Years After Her Death, a Gardener's Legacy Lives On

For almost 50 years, Margaret Thomas tended to her five-acre flower garden in Herndon, Virginia. A local landmark for decades, the garden attracted photographers and artists eager to capture the colorful view.

Following her death in 2011, friends and neighbors launched an effort to preserve Thomas’ garden as a park, but failed when Fairfax County refused to add the land to a Park Authority bond, the Fairfax County Times reported.

Developers had been trying to buy the land for years. Several years before her death, Thomas refused an offer of $4.5 million for her land, which is next to Lawyers Road in Oak Hill, less than five miles from Reston Town Center.

The property, which passed to her son, was sold to developers in 2014.

Despite the loss of her garden, Thomas' memory lives on in the development going up on her former land: the Iris Hills subdivision on Margaret Thomas Lane.

A look back at the iris garden cultivated by long-time Fairfax County resident Margaret Thomas.

There's also a more tangible continuation of Thomas's work; many of her flowers survived the end of her garden, living on in her community.

Before the property was sold, Thomas’ son allowed neighbors and businesses to dig up her garden, ensuring that her flowers would be replanted and preserved.

“Just look at all the joy she’s brought to people,” neighbor Karen Ulans told News4 in 2011 after Thomas’ death. “You just drive around any of these neighborhoods and their yards are full of her irises and peonies.” 

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