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Item BLT 1/1 - Thomas Blaikie diary 1775-1781

Part of Thomas Blaikie collection

Identity area

Reference code

GB235 BLT/BLT 1/BLT 1/1


Thomas Blaikie diary 1775-1781


  • 1775 - 1781 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

One vellum bound notebook.

Context area

Name of creator

Blaikie, Thomas, 1751-1838, gardener (1751-1838)

Biographical history

Thomas Blaikie was born in 1751 in Corstorphine, the son of a market gardener. It is suggested he may have been a student gardener at RBGE and possibly then worked at Kew, the Hammersmith nursery and Upton House in East Ham for Dr John Fothergill. He was engaged jointly by Dr Fothergill and Dr William Pitcairn to undertake a plant collecting trip in the Swiss Alps from April to December 1775. In September 1776 James Lee of the Hammersmith Nursery engaged Blaikie to provide plants for the Comte de Lauraguais and he was subsequently employed to work on the Comte’s garden in Normandy. From 1778 he was employed in the gardens at Bagatelle by the Comte D’Artois, the youngest brother of Louis XVI and future Charles X. He also worked at St Leu, Monceau and Le Raincy for the Duc de Chartres (who later became Duc D’Orleans and then Philippe Égalité) and undertook a number of private commissions. It is also thought that he was involved in making alterations to the gardens at Malmaison.

Blaikie is credited with introducing the English style of gardening and British gardeners to France, where his method of grafting came to be known as ‘graffe Blaikie’. He died at his house on the rue de Vignes in Paris in 1838. His diaries covering the period 1775 to 1792 were published in 1931, entitled ‘Diary of a Scotch Gardener at the French Court at the end of the Eighteenth Century’.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Diary covering the period 1775 to 1781 including an account of a collecting trip in the Swiss Alps and a list of plants collected and sent to Fothergill and Pitcairn from Bourdigny in November 1775. The first page has been cut out.

Contains a loose and undated handwritten note in English and French on particular dates and points in Blaikie's life including residence, age and date of death. (Box 1)

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open for consultation on appointment with the archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction

Permission for reproduction is required from RBGE.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Material is fragile and requires careful handling.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

This diary was published and a copy is held in the RBGE library:
Thomas Blaikie – ‘Diary of a Scotch Gardener: at the French court at the end of the eighteenth century’ – ed. Birrell, Francis, 1931 (F\4\BLA)

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Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area