Botanical art books – Bulbous Plants of Southern Africa


Bulbous plants of Southern Africa by Niel Du Plessis and Graham Duncan. Illustrations by Elise Bodley. ISBNย 9780624026594 Tafelberg Publishers 1989.

This is a superb book.

It begins with an extensive section on cultivation and propagation, with useful monochrome illustrations.

The heart of the book consists of a treatment of the most desirable members of each genus, together with watercolours by Elise Bodley. In some cases the watercolours are mixed compositions from within one genus, others combine small genera from the same family.

Amaryllids – Cyrtanthus

The thing I love most about this book is that one can tell it is aimed at gardeners. Many such books take a strictly botanical approach to ‘bulbs’ and restrict themselves to the ‘petaloid monocotyledons’. This excludes other plants that, for all practical purposes in the garden, behave the same way -i.e. spend part of the year as a dormant underground tuber. Therefore important genera such as Oxalis are usually excluded, as are tuberous Pelargonium, terrestrial Orchids etc. This book includes all of these, which is great to see.

Tuberous Pelargonium

The selection of species and genera is excellent. There are a few smaller genera which are now quite trendy among the more geeky growers that are not included (Eriospermum for example). But all of the more popular ones are there. The text on each genus is very useful and contains many clues to cultivation.

The watercolours by Elise Bodley are amazing. Both accurate and aesthetically very attractive, not always easy to do when combining a page of numerous similar plants (Oxalis for example).

The book is beautifully presented in a sturdy slip-case but is very large which makes it awkward to fit on a shelf.




  1. It seems like a very lovely book indeed. I’m happy to hear that you enjoy it. Your second picture shows a drawing of a plant that looks like a zucchini flower … I am wondering if it is really this plant? Have a beautiful and creative weekend Darren. xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This set is a wonderful inspiration, I’m sure. Still, I am partial to your works of art. Maybe I’m prejudiced because I know you, but your pieces are instilled with love and joy. The pleasure you have in creating your art is certainly passed on to those who are lucky enough to view it. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’•โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’•โค๏ธ

    Liked by 2 people

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