Sir Harry James Veitch, gardener, was born in Exeter on 29th June 1840. He was educated at Exeter Grammar School, and later studied in both Hamburg and Paris. During his period in France Veitch joined Vilmorin-Andreux and by 1858-9, he had moved to its Chelsea branch. Harry James was particularly interested in plant hunting and was responsible for sending Richard Pearce, a gardener at the Veitch Nursery, Exeter, to China, Peru, and Bolivia in 1859. His firm also sponsored Ernest Henry Wilson's first two trips to China. Veitch went on to work at the Veitch nursery until 1900, and during his time the firm raised its profile as a nursery that could introduce many exotics into British gardens. Between 1906 and 1914 Veitch came out of retirement to manage the nursery during a period of decline.
In 1867 Harry James married Louisa Mary but they had no children. He became a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1886 and received the Victoria medal of honour of the Royal Horticultural Society. He was knighted on 6 July 1924.