Introducing….botanical art book looks.

Obviously I love botanical art and I have a lot of books with botanical art in them. So I am considering a series of book reviews and quick peeks covering books containing botanical art. For copyright reasons I am uneasy about reproducing actual artwork, though a picture of the book cover would seem to be ‘fair use’, even if it does not give a true flavour of the book.

I am starting with the oldest series of books in my collection. Kew gardens published ‘Drawings of British Plants’ over a long period from the late 1940s until the 1970s. This aimed to feature simply botanical drawings of the entire native British flora (except grasses) in 31 inexpensive paperback volumes. All of the illustrations, some 1300, were produced by the late Stella Ross Craig often at the astonishing rate of two per week.

I am in awe of the skill shown in these drawings, and the detail considering the speed at which the artist worked.

Stella Ross Craig passed away in 2006 only a few weeks short of her 100th birthday.

The drawings were often done from dried specimens in the Kew herbarium, yet the life in the drawings belies this.

I am dedicating this post to Lisa, who I think would absolutely love these drawings.

I first saw these books in the library at work 20 years ago and loved them then but they were long out of print. Two years ago a friend offered me the first 23 volumes and of course I gratefully accepted. With subsequent purchases I am now only missing a few. In these days of online antiquarian book dealers it is still possible to track them down.

Here is an example of one of the drawings.

Here is the Marsh Helleborine alongside my own pic of the real thing:


  1. The book reviews is a great idea. Go for it. I like this post for its content and because you have dedicated it to our mutual friend Lisa. Now, you have to tell us which volumes you don’t have yet, in case we spot them. Have a lovely and creative weekend my friend.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you my lovely friend๐Ÿ˜„. Volumes 24 to 27 inclusive. Some are available if I look on Bookfinder but they were later reissued bound together as 3 or 4 parts in one hardcover so finding the individual parts is made more complicated.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My heart is full ๐Ÿ’— these are absolutely gorgeous!! Botanical line drawings are my favorite ๐ŸŒน You know me well! I will be on the watch for these gems, the artistry is exceptional. These are absolute treasures, I hope you can find the ones you don’t have. Thank you so much for dedicating this post to me! I certainly think that you should ink your version, I know that they will be brilliant! I am such a fan of your art. Thank you again my friend, you absolutely made my day!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am so pleased you liked them Lisa๐Ÿ˜ . I saw them on my bookshelf and immediately thought of you and how much you would appreciate them. Thank you also for your lovely comment and for the reblog. I am very touched.โค


  3. Reblogged this on LISMORE PAPER and commented:
    This is a must check out by the amazing Arty Plantsman, Darren. These are some of the finest botanical line drawings I have seen. I am encouraging Darren to do some of his own, he is such a talented artist. He is planning on reviewing these gems on his blog. I am so excited to see more!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A wonderful idea and I look forward to get a better insight in botanical books! The ink drawings are beautiful – so rich in detail I would feel sure to identify even mushrooms with their help (and I’m very cautious when it’s about mushrooms!). ๐Ÿ˜„

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Sarah. I have a great book on mushrooms. What worries me is that it tells you what even the deadliest ones taste like. Who tried them? Did the author go to the hospital and ask someone on their deathbed ” yes but what did it taste like?”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow! Now Iยดm curious too! Not that I would want to actually make someone eat them, so I can question them ๐Ÿ˜‰ Could you give me the title? Sounds like a great, if slightly weird, book! Is the author still alive? Maybe we could ask him/her? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Otherwise I would feel compelled to write a short story or more about it! ๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 3 people

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