William Lobb was an English gardener who, along with his brother Thomas, was hired by Veitch Nurseries to travel the world, collecting plants and their seeds to send back to Britain.

With global exploration introducing a taste for the foreign, Victorians were beginning to plant trees and plants from all over the world to make their gardens more interesting and exotic. Nurseryman James Veitch sent Thomas Lobb to Asia, while William travelled to South America, where he sent back begonias, salvias, nasturtiums and many other plants now common in Britain.

After South America, he headed north to the West Coast of the USA and began sending back a wide variety of pines and fir trees to meet the demand for unusual conifers.

In 1853 Lobb heard about the giant sequoias discovered the previous year at Calaveras Grove, and went to see them. He knew immediately that the trees would capture the public imagination. After collecting seedlings and cones, Lobb accompanied his finds back to England. Soon sequoias were being planted in country estates all over Britain, where you can still see them today, though they need another thousand years to grow as big as the Californian sequoias.

In 1854 Lobb returned to California, but his health was starting to deteriorate. He broke ties with Veitch Nurseries, travelled less and less, and died in 1864. He is buried in relative obscurity near San Francisco.