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Salisbury Florilegium Society

Regd Charity Number 243439

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Salisbury Florilegium Society

On the afternoon of 22 May 2016, the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral held a highly successful Open Gardens event in Salisbury Cathedral Close. Over 750 visitors were able to tour no fewer than ten private gardens. Usually hidden from public view, they included the South Canonry where they also put on the best teas in town, Myles Place complete with a real live baby owl, Nigel and Lucy Salisbury’s charming garden at No 48, and the garden that many people voted the best of all, the lovely cottage gardens of the College of Matrons almshouses. The event brochure described them well as the ‘Secret Gardens of the Close’ and the visitors loved being allowed to see so many special places, all in top Spring form!

On my own way round the gardens, it struck me just how picturesque each garden was, in its own way. This led on to thinking how wonderful it would be to have a set of watercolour landscapes of all these ‘Secret Gardens’.  Residents of the Close I talked to said that they thought that a local professional artist had completed a set of paintings of the buildings in the Close some years ago, but not their gardens, and certainly not their plants. It struck me that a set of garden landscapes, in watercolour, of the Close’s Secret Gardens, plus selected watercolour studies of some of the flowers to be found there (i.e. a Florilegium) would be a splendid idea.

A florilegium, literally the Latin for a ‘collection of flowers’, is usually a formal botanical illustration record of a collection of flowers and plants. It has typically meant the creation by professional artists of a formal record of plants found in a garden of significance. Prince Charles has a Highgrove House Florilegium, as does

the Eden Project and the Chelsea Physic Garden. They have each produced a record of their work for posterity in the form of a book of their paintings: all of very high quality, and thus very expensive.  Take a look at www.botanicalartandartists.com for more information about the intriguing world of botanical painting.

The Salisbury Florilegium Society (SFS) began in 2016 as a direct result of the ‘Secret Gardens of the Close’ event and is a growing collection of original botanical art depicting the plants from the private gardens within Salisbury Cathedral Close. The aim of the SFS is to document the some of the plant materials of Salisbury’s Cathedral Close, using traditional methods of botanical illustration. In addition, a vignette of each private garden selected will be painted or drawn, to put its botanical illustrations into context. The Florilegium adds to the archives of information about The Close and will be used by The Friends of Salisbury Cathedral to generate funds to support the Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral.

The SFS artists are contemporary amateur botanical artists whose style is classic in presentation and who work in the traditional media of watercolour, graphite, coloured pencils and pen and ink. Admission to the SFS is obtained by submitting an application and a portfolio of work to the Florilegium assessment panel for review. Those artists accepted become part of the Society with the commitment that they will finish and submit, as a donation, at least two pieces of artwork to the SFS. Artists may choose subjects from any garden whose owner has agreed to participate in the project. Additional artwork and continuation on the project may be requested by the Society.

To date there are over 20 original pieces of Botanical Artwork in the collection. A set of 8 of the designs are being made into Limited Edition packs of notecards, available via ‘Secret Gardens of the Close’ exhibition (1-5.30 pm) on 21st May 2017. £10 entry (children under 12 free).

Nick Stiven


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