It is my sad duty to tell you of the death, this afternoon 9th August 2010, of the great plantsman Jim Archibald.
His wife and fellow plant hunter, Jenny has their family with her at this very sad time and I know you will all join with us in sending our condolences to them.
Jim had been ill for some time and in spite of early signs that treatment was succesfull, latterly his health had been failing.
There can scarcely be a single person with an interest in alpine plants and bulbs who is not growing plants derived from the world wide seed collections of the Archibalds , either directly from seed from Jim and Jenny's seed business JJA Seeds, or from that seed grown on by a multiplicity of nurseries across the world.
The extent of their travels and the scope of their seed introductions is quite enormous. Both with a great eye for a good plant and the determination to travel far and work hard to collect seed, Jim and Jenny made a formidable team.
Jim could court controversy with his forthright opinions,often expounded in their seed lists but this was to be expected of an opinionated Scotsman..... it's in the job description really!
From the 1960s Jim was sending seed and sometimes live material by airmail to that great Aberdeen grower, the late Harold Esslemont, who had tremendous respect for Jim's considered approach to planthunting and for the fine plants found and also for the teamwork displayed by Jenny.
An example of live plants sent to Harold is the Saxifraga named for his friend,another giant in the plant world, Per Wendelbo, Saxifraga wendelboi.
Another "Archibald plant" is Muscari mcbeathianum, named for another Scot, Ron McBeath...... the list could go on and on.
The Archibalds had Dionysia archibaldii named in their honour... befittingly it is one of the gems of that genus.
I can think of no better way to recall the contribution that Jim and Jenny have made as plantsfolk or to introduce them to anyone who knows nothing of them than to suggest that you read the chapter in Bobby Ward's book "The Plant Hunter's Garden: The New Explorers and Their Discoveries".
The chapter is titled " What are seeds but dreams in packets" and this could surely sum up the work of Jim and Jenny.
Many people will have had the pleasure of hearing Jim give talks on their work, inspiring the audience with tales of their exploits and it had been hoped that Jim would be well enough to give a talk at the Alpines 2011 Conference in April next year. Sadly this cannot be but still there are those thousands of plants growing around the world, giving joy to thousands of gardeners and Jim's legacy as the inspiration for so very many of the Plant Hunters that have followed in his footsteps to keep his name alive.
Jim and Jenny were a couple with firm friends and admirers in all corners of the world and all will feel Jim's loss and sorrow for Jenny at this time.
For Jenny and their daughter and son, of course, their loss is of a dearly loved husband and partner and a loving father : we can only hope that the family can take a little comfort in knowing the level of respect and admiration in which Jim is regarded by so many.
Jim will be sadly missed.
I take the liberty of posting this photo of Jim and Jenny , taken by Bobby Ward
and this photo is of Jim Archibald with Michael Kammerlander and Ian Young at an SRGC Discussion weekend a couple of years ago....