Botanicum: a sight to behold

This week's blog post comes in the form of inspiration. It's all around us, yet, we often fail to notice it because we are so digitally engaged. Our digital lives allow us the opportunities to learn about anything we want, but there's so much inspiration just in front of our eyes that we often miss it.

I walked by a London bookshop this week and out of the corner of my eye, this book started screaming at me. I looked over, smiled, and immediately walked into the bookshop, bought it and brought it home with me. It's a stunning depiction of early plant life brought to life with amazing illustrations and great historical facts. It's called Botanicum. Curated by Katie Scott and beautifully illustrated by Kathy Willis.

I take inspiration from all kinds of places and this book is an especially creative and visually stimulating offering. As we are bombarded by digital data every day it’s so easy to forget to get back to nature, physically and in this case, via a good book. Aside from the stunning illustrations, it’s a great learning tool to understand how plant life was formed and the variety of plant life that’s been documented into a few distinct groups. It's carefully curated, and easily digestible content is an easy read and a great way to learn about where our plant life originates.

Asterolampravulgaris

Asterolampravulgaris

For example, did you know that Algae is one of the oldest plants? They date back 3800 million years from single cells to giant seaweeds. This particular illustration is an asterolampravulgaris - a round saucer-shaped marine diatom found in tropical waters.

Red Marasmius

Red Marasmius

Fungi and Lichens were crucial in helping plants gain hold on dry land around 470-400 million years ago. Although fungi are not classed as plants - they don't make food by photosynthesis, don't have roots, and they don't reproduce by spores - they are included because of their function in the plant ecosystems. They help break down plant litter and animal remains into the soil, ensuring sufficient nutrients for plant growth.

 

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba, native to China, appear all around the world, partly because of their handsome looks, but also because they are resistant to extremes of weather and pollution found in cities. The oldest recorded tree is thought to be 3500 years old. What appear to be plum-like fruits are actually naked seeds that emit a terrible vomit-like stench! Ginkgo biloba appears not to have changed much in 250 million years - the modern leaf is almost identical in shape and form to examples found in fossils. Amazing that this tree has adapted little over time!

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

From the 17th century, the wealthy created elaborate glass houses displaying ornamental shrubs like this Chinese Magnolia. Professional plant hunters were sent to scour the world looking for new discoveries. 


While I could go on about all of the stunning illustrations and great nuggets of plant history found in this book, I don't want to spoil the fun for you! I'll let you order your own copy of Botanicum or even better, get the postcards, too. You won't be disappointed!

I hope you enjoyed this review, please let me know in the comments where you find your inspiration from, I'd love to know.