William Aiton

(1731—1793) horticulturist

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Father and son gardeners, botanists, and plantsmen. The elder Aiton was born at Hamilton in Scotland and, from 1754, worked at Chelsea Physic Garden under Philip Miller. He was recruited by the 3rd Earl of Bute to work for the Princess Augusta at Kew (which became the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) where he became head gardener in 1784 and latterly also worked as ‘Gardener to His Majesty’ for King George III who had bought the adjoining estate. At Kew he was the chief author of the plant catalogue Hortus Kewensis (1789), which lists the 5,600 plants grown in the gardens at that time. Dates of plant introductions, and the names of their introducers where known, were given, making it a key source. Aiton was given expert botanical advice for the catalogue by Daniel Solander (1733–82) and Jonas Dryander (1748–1810), who organized the herbarium at Kew for Sir Joseph Banks. The younger Aiton succeeded his father as head gardener at Kew in 1793 on his father's death. He was the author of a second edition of Hortus Kewensis (1810–13), the catalogue of plants grown at Kew, now listing over 11,000 species. He designed new gardens for Brighton Pavilion (Sussex), Buckingham Palace (London), and Windsor Castle. He was put in charge of the royal gardens at St James's Palace and Kensington Palace (see London parks and gardens) and became director general of royal gardens to George IV.

From The Oxford Companion to the Garden in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Lifestyle, Home, and Garden.

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