Tradescant's Orchard: A Celebration of Botanical Art

Contemporary botanical art made in response to the 17th century Tradescant’s Orchard. ­

John Tradescant the Elder and Younger (1656) by Wenceslas HollarGarden Museum

The Tradescants were 17th century gardeners who introduced many new plants to England.  More than 160 varieties of fruit were listed amongst the inventory of plants grown at the Tradescants nursery in Lambeth, many of which are illustrated in the Tradescant's Orchard. The Tradescants’ Orchard is a rare and unique record, held at the Bodleian library, of 66 fruit varieties grown in Britain in the 17th century. The book depicts fruit specimens in watercolour alongside the fruits name and the date on which it ripened as well as the colour, size and texture of each variety. The fruit specimens are scattered with depictions of insects, birds and frogs which enliven the compositions. 

Ribes uva-crispa ‘Poorman’ (2015) by Linda PowersGarden Museum

The
Contemporary Orchard

The Garden Museum invited 40 of the worlds leading botanical artists to paint watercolours of fruit in response to the Tradescant's Orchard. They have selected either varieties grown by the Tradescants or those now considered to be heritage varieties. In the globetrotting spirit of the plant hunting Tradescants artists from across the globe have embraced the project with works coming from the Netherlands, Korea, the USA and England.

Prunus persica ‘Indian Blood Cling’ (c.2015) by Karen RingstrandGarden Museum

Karen resides in Virginia and three of her paintings appear in the book, American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic. The Director of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation suggested Karen drew the Indian Blood Peach, due to the unusual markings on its skin and dramatic bi-coloured flesh. The Indian Blood peach may be the original variety brought to North America by the Spanish or French, which naturalized and spread over the south eastern United States and was cultivated by Native Americans.

Prunus domestica ‘Victoria’ (c.2015) by Nutty LimGarden Museum

Nutty chose the Prunus domestica because her son has a miniature dachshund called plum and the Victoria plums were wonderful when she was painting in Suffolk with friends. She has studied with Anne-Marie Evans and with Annie Farrer. Nutty was shortlisted in the 2006 Jacksons of Piccadilly Amateur Painting Award and exhibited at the Painting of Plants as Symbols in Religious Art exhibition at Lincoln Cathedral in 2008.

Prunus domestica ‘Coe’s Golden Drop’ (c.2015) by Lesley Ann SandbachGarden Museum

Lesley Ann graduated with a Diploma in Botanical Illustration in 2002. Since then, she has continued to study with Anne-Marie Evans, Helen Allen and Annie Farrer. She was chairman of the Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society for four years and participated with the florilegium in two RHS group exhibitions. Lesley Ann loved the shape of this plum with its distinct ‘buttocks’, one lower than the other. The bloom on the fruit gives it an almost blue haze but it ripens to a rich gold.

Prunus domestica ‘Kirke’s Blue’ (2017/2018) by Elaine SearleGarden Museum

Living in North Norfolk Elaine is blessed with access to a fruit orchard which grows many heritage plum varieties. She first got to know ‘Kirke’s Blue’ as a delicious eater. The following year when the opportunity to paint for this exhibition arose she recalled how beautifully the vivid blue-violet bloom covering the plum had picked up the early Autumn sun. She was also attracted to the size and heavy cropping of the fruit on those ancient boughs. To get to know the specimen Elaine first painted it on Hot Pressed watercolour paper and then onto vellum. Elaine studied with Anne Marie Evans at the English Gardening School at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Malus domestica ‘Egremont Russet’ (c,2019) by Chrissie LightfootGarden Museum

Chrissie’s work has been exhibited in group exhibitions internationally and she has work held in the Hunt Institute, the Chelsea Physic Garden and a number of private collections. She has paintings in the Highgrove Florilegium and the Transylvania Florilegium, currently being created with the support of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, to record in a permanent way the flora of Transylvania. This apple has always been a favourite of Chrissie’s, for its taste, its colour and texture. She grows it in her orchard and it is always a reliable fruiter.

Malus domestica ‘Norfolk Biffin’ (2015) by Chrissie LightfootGarden Museum

Chrissie finds this apple a reliable fruiter in her garden. The apple stores well, getting sweeter with keeping, and is good for cooking and drying. The apples were popular with Norwich bakers and were sent to London fruiterers as a delicacy. Chrissie chose to paint the apple after storing for months as she understood they tasted better this way. The painting depicts the blossom and the apple from the autumn before.

Malus domestica ‘Catshead’ (c.2015) by Nina KrauzewiczGarden Museum

Nina has had a lifelong interest in old texts, particularly medieval European literature and herbals. Through these writings she became aware that our links with the plant world range throughout time and human experience, a concept reflected in her work. The Catshead Apple really does look like a cat's head. Nina discovered it was being grown from cuttings from an old tree that the owner used to sit in reading when she was a child. She wanted to create a contemporary representation that reflects the earliest history of the Catshead Apple variety in England.

Morus nigra (c.2015) by Leigh Ann GaleGarden Museum

Leigh Ann is fascinated by how the fruits of the black mulberry evolve in colour from greenish-white, pink and red to black, by contrast to the white mulberry synonymous with the silk industry. Over 135 sites with Mulberry trees have been documented in London, including several fine examples at Lambeth Palace next door to the Museum.

Fragaria virginiana ‘Virginia’ (2016) by Eileen Malone-BrownGarden Museum

Eileen is particularly interested in the medicinal qualities of plants, as well as plant history and discovery. Eileen was introduced to the Virginia Strawberry in the form of a jam called Little Scarlet. This strawberry was prized by early plant explorers, who found it on their visits to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Eileen added this native plant to her garden in Alexandria, Virginia and has enjoyed observing, drawing and painting it over the past three years.

Pyrus communis ‘Mooie Neeltje’ (c.2015) by Marloes VreeburgGarden Museum

Marloes graduated first in Garden and Landscape Design and later in Biology, specialising in plant sciences and landscape ecology. Following her partner to Edinburgh, she came across the botanical art courses given at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and was hooked. After moving back to the Netherlands, she became an active member of the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists. Marloes sought a species of Pyrus communis that was not only ancient (and if possible of Dutch origin), but with fruits that could be kept for some time. Because of the restricted size of the painting, Marloes wanted to choose a species with small fruits. Once she had seen the Mooie Neeltje in bloom and the tree loaded with small, colourful pears, her choice was made.

Pyrus Communis ‘Bartlett’ (2014) by Mary Page HickeyGarden Museum

The fat, slightly disfigured, heavy-hipped pear, ripening in late fall, has always intrigued Mary. She discovered the Bartlett pear was grown by the Tradescants and is still a favourite in the US. Dean Norton, head horticulturist at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, took her into the orchard to pick this fine specimen in the fall of 2014. After painting the ripened fruit, she ate one half then painted the other finding they are as delicious and juicy to eat as to observe. She returned next spring to paint the delicate white flowers, the first to appear on spring blooming fruit trees.

Cydonia oblonga ‘Champion’ (c.2015) by Andrea KirjassoffGarden Museum

Andrea grew up in California near the Huntingdon Library where she appreciated its great botanical gardens. She continued her love of plants through drawing, painting and documenting botanical subjects from her own garden and beyond. The quince was cut from one of the heritage trees in the Filoli estate’s Gentlemen’s Orchard. ‘Champion’ aged delightfully to its characteristic gold and perfumed the air as she painted. Andrea can think of no more quintessentially heritage fruit than the quince.

Ribes uva-crispa ‘Poorman’ (c.2015) by Linda PowersGarden Museum

Linda studied Studio Art and Art History at the University of Minnesota and worked as a graphic designer and product developer. She studied Chinese landscape painting before taking classes at the Minnesota School of Botanical Art. Linda and her husband travel often, hiking and photographing nature. Gooseberries grow wild throughout Linda’s home state of Minnesota. She lives near a berry farm that grows a variety of gooseberries, so she chose Poorman for her painting. The berries are the largest of any American variety and are the most likely match to those in the original Tradescants’ Orchard.

Prunus avium ‘Donnisen’ (c.2015) by Christine BattleGarden Museum

Christine was immediately attracted to the original Tradescant illustration of the “Whight Cherry”, not only for its subtle colouring but also for its quirky name, so evocative of its period. She also liked the challenge of trying to find a modern equivalent of the Tradescants’ variety and was lucky to discover the ‘Donnisen’ Cherry at Brogdale in Kent. A true Yellow Cherry which ripens to a beautiful soft yellow with the faintest rosy highlights, Christine said it was a treat to paint it.

Prunus insititia ‘Shropshire Prune Damson’ (c.2015) by Penny PriceGarden Museum

Penny trained as a scribe and illuminator. In 2010 she studied Botanical Art and Illustration at Chelsea Physic Garden. In 2014 she taught at the Chelsea School of Botanical Art and now teaches short courses at Kew, the Cambridge Botanical Gardens and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Penny chose the Shropshire Prune Damson as she loved the richness of the fruit’s colour, and because it could be found both in the National Collection at Brogdale and in a beautiful orchard in Norfolk. Damsons were mentioned in the Tradescant listings of fruits.

Prunus Spinosa (c.2015) by Mary Ellen TaylorGarden Museum

Mary Ellen's appreciation of all things natural is a direct result of her upbringing amongst the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. She left her home in Ecuador after two decades to pursue Botanical Painting at The English Gardening School. She is currently the Administrator of The Chelsea School of Botanical Art at the Chelsea Physic Garden, where she has been commissioned to paint a small series of Butterflies at Home. The ancient Blackthorn has always intrigued Mary Ellen, not only as a common hedgerow plant, but for its many uses such as a bird habitat, walking sticks and fruit used for liqueur, vinegar and fermented wine.

Punica granatum (c.2015) by Heidi VenamoreGarden Museum

Heidi portrays the essence of her botanical subjects, while at the same time focusing on the plant's individual components. Her work attracts attention with a vibrant, arresting composition, before drawing the viewer into the details of the work. Heidi chose the pomegranate due to its beauty and origins in the Middle East, where she has spent much of her life and career. This specimen grew in Heidi’s garden in Jordan where pomegranates are valued for their health properties, as well as their flavour. These specimens have a deep red colour from months of ripening in the Middle Eastern sun.

Mespilus germanic, ‘Medlar’ (c.2015) by Sue BakerGarden Museum

Sue has always been interested in plants and gardens and fascinated by the fruits of Mespilus germanica. The medlar tree has a delicate white flower in spring and in autumn produces a strange looking fruit that softens or ‘blets’ to ripeness. The fruit has both an interesting look and taste – and makes the most delicious jelly. This exhibition gave her the perfect opportunity to paint the medlar fruit.

Ananus comosus (c.2015) by Lesley Ann SandbachGarden Museum

Lambeth Bridge is known for the pairs of obelisks at either end which are mounted with pinecone-like stone sculptures. However, Lesley Ann prefers the popular urban legend that suggests that these are pineapples as a tribute to John Tradescant the younger, who is said to have grown the first pineapple in Britain. The specimen that Lesley Ann painted came from the Queen Mary II Exotics Collection at Hampton Court Palace, a National Heritage Plant Collection of specimens that were imported to England during the 17th century.

Mespilus germanica (c.2015) by Dick SmitGarden Museum

Dick chose the Mespilus germanica due to the arrangement of its flowers and its peculiar fruit. He was also drawn to the old history of the shrub. It originated in Southwest Asia and was discovered by the Romans in the 9th century and spread through West and Middle Europe. Because of its shape and unusual appearance, it is very interesting to follow the growth of the Medlar from small flower bud into a strange fruit which is edible in late autumn. Since 2005 he has been a member of the Dutch Society of Botanical Arts and a member of the Board.

Pyrus communis ‘Olivier de Serres’ (c.2015) by Pearl BostockGarden Museum

Pearl initially trained in Fine Art and was subsequently awarded the English Gardening School Botanical Painting Diploma. As a member of the botanical art group based at Brogdale National Fruit Collection, Pearl has access to an amazing collection of heritage fruit. Olivier de Serres, a French variety which first fruited in 1861, is a sweet and aromatic dessert pear formed in an unusual flat-round shape.

Pyrus communis ‘Forelle’ (c.2015) by Pearl BostockGarden Museum

As a member of the botanical art group based at Brogdale National Fruit Collection, Pearl has access to an amazing collection of heritage fruit. Many of the old pears are being grubbed out at Brogdale and not all varieties will be re-grafted and grown on. This irreversible decision means that we are losing many of the old varieties in the name of demand for ‘modern’ varieties. Forelle is one of the traditional conical-shaped pears whose future is uncertain.

Ribes uva-crispa (c.2010) by Marianne GrundyGarden Museum

Marianne’s development as a botanical artist has been gradual, starting with photography and then feeling the urge to paint instead. She took a course with Anne-Marie Evans, which she enjoyed so much that she hasn’t stopped since. This gooseberry grew in the garden of a fellow botanical artist. She particularly liked the colours of the fruit and relished the challenge of trying to depict its transparency.

Vitis vinifera ‘Ferdinand de Lesseps’ (c.2018) by Barbara JaynesGarden Museum

In 2000 Barbara began taking classes with Anne-Marie Evans in Los Angeles and England, and continues to paint with her today. Her art has been exhibited with the A-ME Group at Lincoln Cathedral and she has a painting in The Robinson Gardens Florilegium. Living in southern California, it was difficult to find a heritage fruit dating back to at least 1850. With the help of Filoli, an early 20th century estate and botanical gardens near San Francisco, she found just what she needed in the Ferdinand de Lesseps grape.

Prunus persica ‘Cheon Jung Do’ (2016) by Eun Joo LeeGarden Museum

Eun Joo originally studied Ceramic Arts but went on to study botanical illustration at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington and the Chelsea Physic Garden. She found the Grande Carnation Peach in The Tradescants' Orchard very similar to a kind of peach easily found in Korea called Cheon Jung Do (천중도). A friend of Eun Joo’s has a beautiful orchard which grows several thousand Cheon Jung Do peach trees. She had the opportunity to visit the orchard and referred to the peaches as she researched her painting.

Prunus avium (2005) by Eun Joo Lee and Eunjoo LeeGarden Museum

Eun Joo has had solo exhibitions in Seoul and has participated in various group exhibitions including shows at Lincoln Cathedral; Bom Gallery, Seoul and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. She works in watercolour, pen-and-ink and graphite pencil. Eun Joo first practiced painting cherries when she was taking an English Gardening School course in 2005. She remembers it was a very interesting exercise painting cherries of two different colours. It has been a while since she last painted them so wanted to paint them again.

Diospyros Lotus (c.2018) by Esmée WinkelGarden Museum

Esmée works as a scientific illustrator for the Naturalis Biodiversity Center When the exhibition at the Garden Museum was announced, Esmée had just started painting a date-plum tree, one of the oldest trees at the Hortus botanicus, Leiden, in The Netherlands. Research revealed that Diospyros lotus was a species the Tradescants had grown. Esmée has tried to capture the colour nuances in the fruit and to show their deliciously sweet taste. With this painting she wished to show the incredible beauty of this Diospyros lotus and its life cycle that has been continuing each year for almost 300 years.

Prunus avium L. ‘Napoleon' (C.2018) by Gillian BarlowGarden Museum

Gillian was a student at London University’s Slade School of Art. She is a self-taught botanical painter, having had the benefit of a botanist father with whom exciting plant hunts were part of childhood family outings. This pretty cherry starts pale yellow, lightly streaked with pink. Fruits retain some yellow on the shaded side, but sunshine soon colours the ripening fruit a streaky crimson-pink. The Naples cherry is widely grown commercially under the name of Napoleon or Naps for short.

Prunus avium L. ‘Black Heart’ (c.2018) by Gillian BarlowGarden Museum

This small, almost black cherry has a slightly bumpy surface yielding many highlights on its shiny skin. The dark red flesh is deliciously rich, sweet and succulent, with plenty of very dark purple-red juice, generously staining lips, fingers and clothing. It is no longer grown commercially, as the fruit is small and bruises easily. In his illustrations, Tradescants’ several heart (or Harte) cherry varieties are shown very pointed at the base, with a deep dip for the stalk, qualities he exaggerated to distinguish hartes from spherical types such as the Naples cherry.

Malus domestica ‘Red Tulip’ (2018) by Margriet HoninghGarden Museum

Margriet contacted the Orchard Collection in the Beemster, a region 25 km north of Amsterdam to help her select heritage fruits for this exhibition. The orchard contains over 600 ancient species of apples and pears making it rather difficult to make a decision about the species to paint. Eventually she decided to paint a Dutch species and an English one.

Malus domestica ‘Ribston Pippin’ (c.2018) by Margriet HoninghGarden Museum

Margriet studied History of Art at the University of Leiden and now specialises in botanical painting. She is a founder Member of the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists. This apple is affectionately known as the Ribston Pippin and was first grown in England in 1708 from one of three apple pips sent from Normandy to Sir Henry Goodricke of Ribston Hall at Knaresborough, Yorkshire.

Punica Granatum (c.2018) by Caroline CottinghamGarden Museum

Living in Thailand Caroline noticed pomegranate trees growing semi-wild and thought it might be an interesting subject to draw. Her search for a heritage variety eventually led her back to the Chelsea physic garden where the pomegranate tree there is one of the oldest trees in the garden. Caroline is interested in the therapeutic and medicinal properties of plants and has lived for extended periods in S.E. Asia, Japan, India and Burma.

Prunus dulcis (c.2018) by Sarah GouldGarden Museum

Sarah originally qualified as a landscape architect with a broad knowledge of plants. After studying botanical illustration with Anne-Marie Evans she began to work on calfskin vellum and now paints exclusively on this medium. The almond was introduced to Britain around 1350. Grown for its sweet and oily nuts, it would have been well known to the Tradescants. John Parkinson, a contemporary and friend of John Tradescant, lists it in his Theatrum Botanicum. This almond study was taken from the only almond tree growing at the Chelsea Physic Garden, although the tree has since had to be felled.

Credits: Story

We would like to thank all of the artists involved for their permission and support for this project.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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