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Jackie Power

The Highgrove Florilegium at the Garden Museum

The Highgrove Florilegium exhibition features watercolours of flowers, fruit, and trees by more than 70 leading botanical artists from around the world.

Elizabeth Dowle: Malus domestica 'Ribston Pippin'
Elizabeth Dowle: Malus domestica 'Ribston Pippin'

The artists have produced paintings of plants and trees grown in the Gloucestershire garden of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The word 'Florilegium' is Latin (originally from the Greek 'anthologia') which over time, has come to mean an illustrated record of selected plants. The watercolours in this exhibition are botanical illustrations of a selection of flowers, trees, vegetables including medicinal plants.

All are beautifully depicted, but several paintings stand out, such as Iris 'Black Swan' (Kate Nessler). Details captured reveal the fine texture of folds of petals looking like silk, as they are seen on the real plant. The delicate yellow flowers of Jasminum nudiflorum, a painting by Mieko Ishikawa, bring the vitality and freshness of this winter flowering shrub to life.

The fruit and vegetable paintings were particularly surprising; the humble beetroot – Beta vulgaris 'Boltardy' (Jessica Tcherepnine) – show how interesting vegetable plants can look with highly decorative leaves and startling colours.

Elizabeth Dowle's painting of Malus domestica Ribston Pippin apple is so lifelike it could be 'picked' from the branch. So too, Hazel West-Sherring's painting of a pear – Pyrus communis 'Sucrée de Montluçon' – the blush on the grainy yellow-green skin made it look ripe and ready to eat.

One of two medicinal plants featured in the exhibition is Ginkgo biloba. Josephine Elwes's details the summer and autumn colours of the unusual fan shaped leaves of this ancient single species tree.

The paintings in the exhibition are arranged according to the layout of the garden at Highgrove. There is an informative fold-out booklet provided free of charge which shows the plan of the garden and looks at a selection of the work in detail.

A small colour paperback 'The Highgrove Florilegium Exhibition' is available priced 6.50 and features many of the paintings on display. A limited edition set of The Highgrove Florilegium volumes I & II has been produced and is on view. This first royal Florilegium in the UK is being published to raise money for The Prince's Charities Foundation.

• Jackie Power is a medical herbalist – www.jackiepower.co.uk

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