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Author Topic: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died  (Read 26343 times)

dominique

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #30 on: August 16, 2010, 11:22:53 AM »
As all , I know Jim and Jenny by their seedlists and all seeds which grow at home now. He worked for the pleasure of so many gardeners who will remember Jim every time they look at his so numerous vegetal-childs all over the world. These seedlings have now a spiritual price for ever.
So sad to have lost so monumental personality.
My condoleances and best respect to Jenny and the childrens
Dom
do

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #31 on: August 16, 2010, 01:32:02 PM »
Good news

Got a bulb list from Jenny this am

Seed list to follow when she has sent out the bulb orders



Jean
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 02:07:56 PM by Maggi Young »
Jean Wyllie Dunblane Scotland

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2010, 02:03:49 PM »
A poignant moment.
I have known Jim and Jenny for many years and have sometimes passed on plants/seeds found in my travels in Greece, usually Cyclamen, Crocus and other bulbous plants, Jim too would sometimes send me plants from his travels that he thought I would like.
At a recent Fritillaria meeting at Wisley Jim and Jenny and I were chatting about various plants and he told me the Chionodoxa cretica that I had found at the Omalos in Crete was a very fine clone. I had collected this and seed of Crocus sieberi ssp sieberi for them at the same location.
Today of all days, when his funeral is taking place, I too received the 2010 bulb list from Jenny and found that the Chionodoxa has been named Chionodoxa cretica 'Melvyn', how sad not to be able to ring him and thank him.
As others have said several plants in my collection have his reference number and will be a constant reminder of a good friend.

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2010, 02:17:33 PM »
Oh my goodness, Melvyn..... that is quite something, on this of all days.

 It is so sad not to be able to attend the funera lto pay our respects and support Jenny.... that is what messages from overseas have been saying that we've received here..... frustrating as it is, the distance involved and the complexities of the train system meant that it would take at least 16 hours to travel down to Jim's funeral and 12 plus to get back from Aberdeen.....so much for ease of movement around the UK!
 That just proved impossible to arrange so we are left here, as will others be around the world, thinking  our own thoughts and memories of that remarkable man.

It is good to know that Jenny is brave enough to be getting organised at this time to continue the business on her own. It must be very hard for her to comtemplate such things now  but  it is to be hoped that her work in carrying on will be a happy reminder of their days together.

 I suspect that Jenny and Jim will have discussed this and he will have given her the strength to carry on. I am full of admiration for her.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 06:42:49 PM by Maggi Young »
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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2010, 05:22:11 PM »
It was Jim who got me hooked on Pelargoniums.

At one of his lectures for either SRGC at the discussion weekend or AGS Dublin Group discussion weekend he showed the two UK hardy P. endlicherianum and P. ?quercetorum. I asked him where I could get seed and he asked for my address. Within a few days a plant of each arrived in the post. Very kind of him. Sadly the plants died in the freeze this year
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All photos taken with a Canon 900T and 230

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #35 on: August 17, 2010, 10:51:50 AM »
Dear Friends, with the gracious permission of Jenny Archibald we are pleased to be able to share with you the eulogy given by his old friend Robert Rolfe at Jim's funeral yesterday in Wales.  Would that more of us could have been there to hear this fitting tribute given by a friend....

JIM ARCHIBALD, 1941-2010

Jim Archibald was an exceptionally gifted man, and in particular one of the very finest horticulturists of his generation, or any other. His occasionally iconoclastic but always reasoned views have had a great influence on informed gardeners everywhere.  I’ll have inadvertently overlooked several important facets of his life, but whether you consider his achievements and international standing as a lecturer, as a plant-hunter, a photographer, a writer and a gardener, or simply cherish his memory as a shrewd arbiter and a steadfast friend, he was utterly remarkable.
 
I was barely a teenager when we first met, in the late 1960s. He had just lectured on his travels in southern Spain and the High Atlas to a gardening group I had newly joined. The previous month there had been a really wooden talk on conifers. When it finished … eventually … John Kelly, a nurseryman friend of the even-then august Mr Archibald, came up and said, ‘Forget that; just wait until you hear Jim’. And so from one of the worst lectures ever to one of the most compelling – I remember it well even now. He was erudite, fluent, funny, informative and had a very listenable voice, for he never lost his refined Edinburgh accent, though he didn’t pepper his vocabulary with Scotticisms, other than to use the adjective ‘wee’ when describing sundry small hummock-forming species. I assumed the surname Archibald was rather grand: Jim would have none of this, comparing its ubiquity north of the border with that of Smith (or given where this service is taking place, Jones) on birth certificates elsewhere in the kingdom.
 
At that time he was living in Dorset, at Buckshaw Gardens, running a nursery set up in 1966 with Eric Smith, who is nowadays best-remembered for his hellebore, bergenia and hosta raisings.  The noun ‘plantsman’ can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, but it came of age when the two of them set up their Sherborne enterprise, registering their business as The Plantsmen. Eric specialised in hardy herbaceous stock, while Jim concentrated on alpine plants, many of which he had introduced himself. They supplied a discriminating gaggle of gardeners, and had some impressive commissions – the grounds of Syon House among them. But while Jim grew herbaceous plants for the wholesale market for eight years after Eric left in 1975, alpines were always his main interest. Part Two of their catalogue – Jim’s preserve – was headed ‘a specialist list of alpine house and choice rock garden plants’. Not, then, for the sort of customers who, as he once sardonically observed, felt it appropriate to stake their pansies.
 
Although not trained as a taxonomist, he had all the attributes that go to make up the finest of this breed. His natural ‘eye’ for plant habitats led him to make discoveries that had eluded notable earlier explorers. As he unaffectedly wrote, ‘you can spot their ‘sort of places’ miles off’. Or rather, he could. Kit Grey-Wilson once went to tropical East Africa, despite advice that the area chosen had been ‘worked out’ botanically: he found a couple of Impatiens new to science on the first morning of the trip. Whereas Jim travelled in 1996 to the Drakensberg, and on extensively-studied Mont-aux-Sources encountered an undescribed Moraea. It was a similar story in Turkey, and again in Iran, his latter-day paeony finds there of especial note. And it was his earlier discovery, in 1966, of a remarkable Dionysia in the Zagros Mts, named after him the following year, that first made the botanical community sit up and take note. This he found in a remote spot: other discoveries often came from rather more accessible habitats. He maintained that it was merely necessary to walk a little further along any given road than previous plant-seekers. He was also involved in important re-discoveries, most notably that of Fritillaria poluninii nearly half a century after it was found in Iraq by Oleg of that ilk in 1958.
 
I’ve mentioned Iran, and although his early Moroccan journey constituted his first important expedition (‘for want of a better name’, as he put it), the Iranian trip was the real trigger for many, many more enterprising plant explorations over almost 45 years. Some of these went relatively unpublicised – his visit to Colombia, for example, South America having first caught his interest in the late 1960s when he was a very keen butterfly and moth collector. (A business contact there would send over stocks).

But those seed-collecting marathons dating from the first half of the 1980s onwards were in effect recorded via bi-annual, rarely tri-annual seed lists. These took the form of comprehensive field notes, rejigged into reams of beautifully-crafted, seductive plant portraits. The declared purpose was ‘to bring a degree of innovation, a sense of responsibility and professionalism to the long-established business of plant introduction’. Over the years, the lists have also acted as a determinedly esoteric clearing house for material sent by friends from the Falklands, Peru, Siberia, China, Japan, the Tien Shan and heaven knows where else. They eclipse any others in their scope and readability, and I’ve kept them all, though some are so well-thumbed that they are dropping to bits.  
 
This seed venture was first flagged up in June 1983: Jim tricked it out to look like a high-powered job advertisement, aimed at those ‘likely to be dissatisfied with their present situation, due to handling wrongly-named or lifeless seeds supplied in inadequate quantities at the incorrect time for satisfactory germination’. ‘If you feel that you have the right qualifications’, he added, half-seriously. One’s first thought was: ‘This man’s got a nerve!’ Well of course he had, and just as well that he kept it so steadfastly over the past couple of months, when he dealt systematically not only his own affairs, but also those pertaining to a sizeable chunk of British horticulture. You would arrive to find him with a list at the ready, full of prompts and agenda items that he ticked off one by one as they were discussed and dealt with. He had a knack for orderliness and precision, for all that he described his seed bank and his huge slide collection as chaotic.
 
He said that he was lazy. He was nothing of the sort, as those who have had the pleasure of visiting the inspirational garden he and Jenny developed near Llandysul will know. They have part-tamed and sympathetically re-ordered a wooded area over which red kites twist and turn, and within which a sometimes ferocious stream meanders, margined by the most deft and subtle plantings. Up the hillside, nearer the house, the polytunnels alone would keep most gardeners fully occupied. Here were meticulous blocks of Oncocyclus and Regelia irises, almost every Fritillaria in existence, Chilean alstroemerias in exuberant masses, a simply fantastic collection of paeony species, and much more besides.

Having introduced so many plants, others would have been tempted to make free with cultivar names. Not Jim. Some of the more outlandish that they coined provoked snorts of derision. Offhand, for him I can only summon up Linaria tristis ‘Toubkal’ from his first Moroccan trip (made with Barrie Gilliatt and Janette Stephen, who later became his first wife), along with Narcissus ‘Julia Jane’, Primula allionii ‘Stephen’ (after their children), and a paeony named for Jenny.
    
He considered himself a hopeless correspondent. An intermittent one, certainly, but how could it be otherwise, given the masses of contacts and friends worldwide? And what pleasure his letters brought; often on creamy parchment-coloured notepaper, with a line drawing of an Atlas Moth top right, written in black ink, in his distinctive, slightly arty, well-formed hand. Amusing postcards would sometimes arrive too, and gifts other than plants – I own a tie (a little too lively to wear today) that he bought in the States in 1991, the year he and Jenny married, almost on a whim, in Carson City, Nevada, fitting in their seed-collecting activities around the service, or rather, given the dedication they are famed for in the field, vice versa.  
 
He reckoned he wasn’t a natural writer, by which he meant that it was often a slog, but of course it is for everyone, from time to time. When he knuckled down to it, he wrote like a dream. It is a great loss that the brace of books he had hoped to write is not to be – he was always too busy, whether he was at home or abroad (where he was emphatically not on holiday). Writing recently to another inveterate plant-hunter, John Watson, he mischievously employed CITES-speak to observe: ‘There aren’t many of us left; almost extinct. Definitely rare and critically endangered.’
 
Regarding himself as something of a horticultural renegade, he precisely tossed the written equivalent of grenades in order to explode the unfacts and uninitiatives that threatened to hamper the ‘enthusiastic and adventurous gardeners’ who formed his loyal constituents. This went down very well indeed in many quarters, badly in others. Which is what he intended. Even so, in reality he was at the very heart of the  horticultural community, and his friends were largely drawn from what he christened ‘the hypersensitive horto-botanical establishment’ – just look around you today. No committees for him; no working parties or discussion groups, but he liked to judge at shows, where he inevitably, effortlessly upped the ante, and always amused.
 
He had the most infectious laugh, somewhere between a throaty chuckle and a husky wheeze, which was deployed liberally. Conversation never flagged, for he was endlessly curious (‘Now, tell me’, he would often preface his sentences), extremely bright and very widely-informed. He was in particular a gifted anecdotalist, mimicking with gleeful mirth the appalled reaction of a conservative American audience when a lecturer included a slide of a woman, stark naked and full-frontal, rising from a mountain lake. On another occasion, he related a High Noon type encounter between a serially wronged wife and a horticulturist whose enthusiasm for experimental propagation techniques was not confined to plants. Who now can begin to match his pleasurable, honed indiscretions?
 
In closing, I have been particularly asked to state what many of you will know: in life Jim was inseparable from his briar pipe. Because he found it diverting, I include the following aside. After the death of another celebrated smoker, Princess Margaret, ‘Private Eye’ published a cartoon. In the background Slough Crematorium, with a plume of smoke coming from the chimney. In the foreground two men, and the speech bubble: ‘One last puff: it’s what she would have wanted’. Well, what Jim would undoubtedly have wanted was his pipe. It is with him now. I just wish so very much that he was still here with us.
                                                                                                                               ROBERT ROLFE

« Last Edit: August 17, 2010, 11:01:42 AM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ranunculus

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #36 on: August 17, 2010, 11:23:25 AM »
Oh, when the time comes, to be permitted a eulogy one thousandth as fitting as that! 

Thank you Robert!  Thank you Jim!  Thank you Jenny!
Cliff Booker
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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2010, 02:29:04 PM »
Bobby Ward has written an appreciation of Jim for the North American Rock Garden Society... it will be published in their next bulletin and is on the  the NARGS website here: http://www.nargs.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=211:in-memoriam-jim-archibald&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=136
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Lesley Cox

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2010, 09:45:09 PM »
What a wonderful privilege to be able to read RR's fantastic eulogy. It said so succinctly the little I knew of Jim and so much more besides that I almost feel I knew him well.

So many thanks to Jenny for this opportunity to share in Jim's last time before passing from the sight of men.
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #39 on: August 17, 2010, 10:03:50 PM »
Yes, it was very good of Jenny to allow Robert to share his words with us.
Jim  had arranged the order of the service to include readings and some great music.... as might be expected it was not quite what is usual at such occasions ...not too many such services are accompanied by the music of Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke : I do hope that was included!


from the Roaring 20's was heard..  I can well imagine Jim's impish pleasure at such a plan.

Also included was the "funeral march" by W C Handy, which does have a more sombre touch in places!


I hope you follow the embedded links to listen to these pieces of music and enjoy them, as you raise a glass to Jim....

Cheers, Jim, and Jenny!

« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 09:08:12 AM by Maggi Young »
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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #40 on: August 17, 2010, 10:58:22 PM »
And a big thanks to Maggi for putting all this together as a tribute to Jim.  And thanks to Robert for his thoughts and memories, no one could have said it better.

There's memories from Val Lee and more detail of the service here:

http://www.alpinegardensociety.net/discussion/miscellaneous/Jim+Archibald+Plantsman+and+personal+friend/429/
Diane Clement, Wolverhampton, UK
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Oron Peri

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #41 on: August 18, 2010, 08:33:00 PM »
It is not surprising to see so many people from every part of the world feeling the same way about this extraordinary man.
Jim's knowledge, enthusiasm and love for bulbs were and will always be a strong and important inspiration to me.

 His spirit will appear here every Autumn and Spring in form of beautiful colors and scents.

THANK YOU
« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 08:37:39 PM by Oron Peri »
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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2010, 11:20:34 PM »
An obituary has appeared in 'The Daily Telegraph':

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/7960472/Jim-Archibald.html
Gerry passed away  at home  on 25th February 2021 - his posts are  left  in the  forum in memory of him.
His was a long life - lived well.

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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #43 on: August 23, 2010, 11:29:24 PM »
Gerry, thank you for this link.
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Re: Sad news: A plantsman lost to us - Jim Archibald has died
« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2010, 09:32:55 AM »
Thanks for the link Gerry.

Jim's obituary is a wonderful story of a young boy inspired by his Father to experience the joy of growing plants and to his success with his alpine plant which won him a prize, aged just 12, from The Scottish Rock Garden Club.

It is fitting that so many SRGC Members have expressed their joy of growing seeds collected by Jim on his expeditions..... and so his inspiration goes on in gardens all over the world that make his vision a dream come true.

A truly magnificent life story.



 
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