Some time ago I discovered Rachel Pedder-Smith's Leguminosae (2004), and I fell in love. A seed pod enthusiast myself, I was taken by the meticulous reverence with which she painted various specimens of beans and seeds. And so, I was thrilled to hear about her new undertaking, a magnum opus in collaboration with the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
If you're in or around London this weekend, consider a visit to Plants in Peril and Losing Paradise, two exhibitions at Kew Botanical Gardens. Curated from the Shirley Sherwood Collection at Kew, the exhibition emphasizes plants from South Africa, a continent with the greatest diversity of flora and the highest numbers of plants headed for extinction.
Victorian artist Marianne North, one of the only women of her time to travel to places like the Seychelles Islands, Australia, and Chile, and who left behind a trail of impressive art and writing about her botanical discoveries, is not a household name. But that might just change with a new book and exhibit.
I'm always drawn to objects in which the human and the natural elevate one another. The exquisite 19th-century Japanese panel paintings from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, now on display in a show curated by five London museums, tell a fascinating story about nature and culture.
"It would not be extravagant to call the beauties of this plant unsurpassable. It is everything to be wished for."—A gardener's account of the Victoria water lily blooming in cultivation, Philadelphia, 1851.