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The Art of Botanical Illustrations

Botanical illustration has a long history and still has its place today, including on Botanical Interests seed packets.

You don’t have to be a complete plant fanatic to appreciate botanical illustration. Deliberate illustrations of plants for the sake of accuracy have been found in cultures as far back as ancient Egypt. The Greeks and Romans, famous for their art, were no strangers to the craft.

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In the modern age, a paradigm shift happened in the way people viewed plants. Humanity went from collecting wild medicinals and culturing small vegetable plots to creating and maintaining elaborate ornamental gardens as a sign of wealth and status. From this period arose a new way of looking at illustrating plants. The most famous example from this period is the Hortus Eystettensis. First printed in 1613, authored by Basilius Besler, and depicting the elaborate gardens of the Prince Bishop of Eichstätt, this seminal work represents one of the first meetings of art and science. Its distinctive style is still recognized and its effects are still felt today.

Botanical illustration continued through the ages as a way to reliably depict plant specimens, usually actual size or to scale, in a manner more permanent than constantly decaying plant material. Artists with honed skills were indispensable as science pushed forward in its attempt to catalog and depict the flora of the world. However, with the advent of readily available photographic media and then the digital age, the botanical illustrator has lost some of their relevance to science.

What they did not lose is their relevance to the artistic world. The gardening world is often one of utility, but also certainly one of aesthetics. In order to view classic botanical illustrations, one need not go to a museum or art gallery. Botanical illustrations can be appreciated by taking a trip to the local garden center and visiting the seed rack display. Botanical Interests’ seed packets are modern works of art. Each packet is illustrated by a botanical artist who still practices the fine art of botanical illustration. To learn more about Botanical Interests and the artists behind the packets, visit to view this month's artist feature.