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The Florilegium

The Florilegium Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Inc was formed in 2005 to create a florilegium, a collection of contemporary botanical paintings of plants in the living collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

The society is a self-funded, voluntary organisation, endorsed by the Trust. The original paintings and their copyright are gifted by the artists to the Trust and held in the Daniel Solander Library in the National Herbarium of NSW.

Established botanical artists from Australia and overseas are invited to join the Society and submit paintings for inclusion. The paintings accepted are of the highest standard, botanically accurate and painted as individual artistic responses to the subject.

Click here for the list of Florilegium paintings and artists

What is a Florilegium?

The word 'florilegium', literally a gathering of flowers, was first used in 1590 to describe a publication that focused on the beauty of the plants rather than their medicinal value. Florilegia flourished from the 17th century to the late 19th century and they portrayed collections of rare and exotic plants. Now, the modern florilegium seeks to record plants in gardens of botanical and historic significance or creating collections which highlight the diversity of their respective countries’ flora or of those that are now rare and endangered.

The First Project

The Florilegium

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney: Celebrating 200 Years

The Society’s first project marked the bicentenary of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney with 89 paintings donated to the Trust. Florilegium: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney: Celebrating 200 Years was published in 2016. It provided a historical overview of the Gardens, and each colour plate was accompanied by the plant description and text relating it the history of the Gardens.

Sydney Living Museums held a major exhibition – Florilegium: Sydney’s Painted Garden – at the Museum of Sydney from April to September 2016. It explored the botanical and horticultural development of the Gardens and its influence on private gardens, public parks and landscapes of New South Wales since 1816.

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in Kew Gardens exhibited Florilegium: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney from March to September 2018. It highlighted the history and the scientific achievements of the Gardens.

The Second Project

Botanic Endeavour

The Florilegium Society celebrates the Banks and Solander collection

The second project links the historic Banks and Solander specimens held in the National Herbarium of NSW with the Living Collection of the three Gardens to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s voyage in HMB Endeavour.

A beautiful limited edition publication features these recently gifted paintings.
The focus is the time and place of the collection of these specimens, their history and invites reflection on what they mean to science, to the Indigenous peoples, to those who collected them and to the Gardens today.

The 45 paintings are reproduced in a full colour and paired with the newly digitised Banks and Solander specimen images. Written by Colleen Morris, each species has its indigenous names and uses where known, a description and quotes from the journals of Joseph Banks, Daniel Solander and artist Sydney Parkinson. It includes a preface by Denise Ora, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands, a foreword by Dr Shirley Sherwood OBE, an introduction to the Florilegium by Beverly Allen and an essay on the Banks collection by Dr Brett Summerell, Director, Research & Chief Botanist, Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands.

Published by the Florilegium Society with support from the Australian Garden History Society it is limited to 600 copies. The size is 245 x 300mm and 132 pages.

The price is AUD65.
As the planned exhibition Botanic Endeavour has been postponed, the book is available from the Society by mail order.
Click here for further information:
Click here to download order form

Only a small number of the 75 artists who have contributed to the Florilegium since inception are able to visit the three Gardens, but they have given so much of their time and energy and skill to create these important paintings. Their generosity is the foundation of the projects

Like the scientific accuracy that botanical art adheres to, the richness of the horticultural displays in the Royal Botanic Gardens is underpinned by the tradition of a scientific garden, plant collecting and the educational role that the Gardens encompass as part of our heritage.


On Botanical Illustration page - Image representing 'Florilegium': Kalopanax septemlobus - Artist: Noriko Watanabe
Slider images aboveLambertia formosa - Elaine Musgrave; Banksia marginata - Margaret Pieroni; Isopogon anemonifolius - Mary Anne Mein; Erythina vespertilio - Dianne Sutherland; Hakea gibbosa - Linda Catchlove; Platycerium bifurcatum - Fiona McKinnon; Epacris microphylla - Lesley Elkan; Callistemon viminalis - Leigh Ann Gale; Actinotus helianthi - Beverly Allen and Telmatoblechnum indicum - Halina Steele.   All images copyright RBG&DT                      


Join Botanical Artist Angela Lober as she creates her Florilegium painting of the Norfolk Island Pine

Video Courtesy of Sydney Living Museums