'Collecting Botanical Prints' subject of program

By BARBARA JOHNSON Special to The State Journal Published:

Ashley Averell, President of The Garden Club of Frankfort, presented a program on "Collecting Botanical Prints" at the April meeting of the club held at the Franklin County Extension Office.

Averell said its amazing to research the early gardens of Europe by reviewing the publications of engravings of the various plants. Her favorite period is the early 1600s where the style was bold, graphic and straightforward in design.

In 1613, Basilus Besler's "Florilegium" in Nurenberg was a landmark of printing. Plates show over 1,000 drawings of plants by season. It is the record of the garden of the Bishop Prince of Eichstatt. Hundreds of species are depicted in the order which they bloomed.

Besler's plates showed plants artfully on the page because the one rule he followed in every drawing was that plants and its leaves turned outward to show all the details of each plant. Only 300 books were produced at that time and it is the largest botanical book to date.

Reprints were made in 1640 and later in 1713. The plates were melted in Munich in 1817. Today's process of photoengraving has made it possible to copy this publication for everyone's enjoyment.

DePasse's "Hortus Floridus" published in 1614 in Holland is unusual. The book was divided into the four seasons. In some copies there were extra plates of tulips, the most fashionable flower of the day. There was short text explaining the plants in Latin, but French, Dutch and English texts followed by the next year.

There are 20th century reprints available. Many of these plates are from the ground level view and include little bugs and mice. These plates are amazing for the time period and their influence was felt for years to come.

Sweert's collection of engraving (1612 in Frankfurt, Germany) was a catalog for seeds and bulbs.

Curtis' Botanical Magazine which started publishing in 1786 would include a few engravings in every issue. The magazine was continued for 200 years and was the one item that really created the interest that Averell has in botanical prints.

Averell said the most amazing thing about all these early issues is that after the engravings were printed, each print was hand painted.

Averell recommends Wilfrid Blunt's "The Art of Botanical Illustrations" as an excellent source of information for anyone who is interested in collecting and studying these early engravings.

In other business, it was announced that the club has donated to the Paul Sawyer Library the following books: Creative Floral Designs, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, Flower Arranging Style, Succession Planting for Year-round Pleasure and Southeast Home Landscaping.

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