The Archibald Archive Index


Jim Archibald, along with his wife Jenny, was part of the UK horticultural scene from the 1960s to 2010.  He travelled very widely throughout the world and introduced many wild-collected seed to cultivation.  

The SRGC is pleased to be able to host details of the Archibald Archive, containing historic Collection Fieldnotes, Seedlists, and Nursery catalogues along with much other information.

This archive is likely to be used mainly by those who already know of Jim and Jenny.  Others may not known them, but will be growing their plants and wish to learn more about them.  Very few plant collectors have their collection records available to the public in such an accessible format as you will find here.  All this information can be accessed from the menu on the left hand side of this and subsequent pages.

History and an outline of Jim's life

During his early years in Scotland, Jim had travelled in search of plants through North Africa and the Middle East, collaborating with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh and Kew. He also worked with Jack Drake at his famous alpine-plant nursery in the Scottish Highlands. 

From 1967 he spent over 10 years with Eric Smith running ‘The Plantsmen’, a nursery based in Dorset, UK, specializing in unusual herbaceous and alpine plants. Many of the plants they introduced are now classic garden-plants.

After Eric's retirement, Jim and Jenny Archibald ran the Dorset nursery together from 1975 but decided in 1983 to spend most of their looking for plants in the wild. Over the years they travelled through most of southern Europe and North Africa, through Turkey and the Near East to Iran, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. They journeyed extensively through western North America many times and in South America through the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. The visited the New Zealand mountains and the South African Drakensberg. Few people could rival the extent of their knowledge of plants in the wild and even fewer could equal their experience of growing and propagating these same plants in cultivation.

For well over the next twenty years Jim and Jenny Archibald specialised in supplying seeds from wild species of non-woody plants of potential garden-value to the most advanced amateur and professional specialist-growers throughout the cool-temperate and continental climatic regions of the world. Their business was small and personal. They knew their plants in the wild successfully cultivated many of them in their garden in West Wales.

Jim and Jenny maintained unrivalled ranges of seeds from about thirty horticulturally important genera as well as hundreds of other species, many not available elsewhere. Much of the seed was from plants cultivated by them, often from wild seed-collections, made by themselves or other leading field-collectors. Most seed listed had field data relating to the original wild population. They collaborated closely with, and often listed seeds from, the world’s leading growers of each genus. Liaison with many of the most authoritative taxonomists ensured that the seeds they distributed were correctly named.

By the time of his death in 2010, Jim Archibald had been growing plants and collecting seeds for nearly 50 years. 
. . . .
© 2024 Scottish Rock Garden Club | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Scottish Charity No. SC000942