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Portraits of a Garden

Submitted by on September 30, 2010 – 1:17 amNo Comment

The earliest florilegia—anthologies of illustrations describing living collections of flowering plants—first appeared 400 years ago. Europe’s royalty was avidly assembling collections of new and rare plants from all corners of the world and had begun to commission artists to record the marvels growing in their gardens. The illustrated herbals of previous centuries were often of considerable beauty, but they were, above all, medical books. Florilegia were drawn from life and botanically accurate, but they also placed new and exuberant emphasis on the beauty of plants.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Florilegium Society, a group of the country’s most accomplished botanical artists, is reinventing this centuries-old form. Established in 2000, the Florilegium is a multiyear project to document Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s living collections through botanical art and preserve the same plants in our 250,000-specimen herbarium. Florilegium Society artists and Brooklyn Botanic Garden botanists and gardeners collaborate in this perfect marriage of art and science.

The fifth section of their drawings is on display on the lower level of the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery in the garden. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

The illustration by Nan Dedrick is Prunus cerasus ‘Montmorency’. Done in 2010, it’s watercolor on paper of a plant in the Herb Garden. Reproduction courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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