Britain’s gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society, has a long and interesting history dating from 1804. Founded under the title The Horticultural Society of London, by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood, its aim was to collect plant information and encourage the improvement of horticultural practice.
Later in the 1850s, the period saw financial crisis for the Society, due to the lack of income from membership and falling proceeds from its garden. This unfortunately led to the sale of its library, which contained many rare books and original drawings. Prince Albert, its then President, revived its fortunes by arranging a new charter in 1861, resulting in the name, The Royal Horticultural Society.”
Nine papers by society members are included in the two volumes of the Transactions, as well as several vivid chromolithographic plates, this being one of them. The 1812 edition, that this example hails from, is the first of many that William Bulmer printed for the society.
This example was part of the wave of illustrations at this time that departed from previous botanical works in illustrating the plants to appear oversized relative to the backgrounds, giving them an overall stately, dramatic, or even surreal appearance, and making such works decidedly ahead of their time.
Really very pretty indeed.