When I was in elementary school, I thought wall charts were the coolest things. Here I am, biblio-nerd-supreme, 40 years later, and I still think so!
Botanical wall charts were introduced in the late nineteenth century and grew in popularity until the 1960s. During that time they were considered fundamental educational tools. Produced as high-quality, brilliantly colored posters, botanical charts were used not only in primary schools, but in university economic and systematic botany classes as well. The large-scale format allowed students to see the botanical posters from any seat in the classroom or lecture hall.
No longer used in formal education, nineteenth-century classroom posters have regained popularity as vintage poster art.
See Botanical Charts: 19th-Century Classroom Posters through Sunday, June 11, 2017
The botanical charts featured in the Lenhardt Library exhibition Botanical Charts: 19th-Century Classroom Posters were produced by Hermann Zippel and Karl Bollman—a botany teacher and print-shop teacher, respectively—who taught at the same high school in Gera, Germany. They combined their skills and produced these beautifully crafted charts called Ausländische Culturpflanzen in Farbigen Wandtafeln mit Ertläuterndem, translated as Foreign Cultivated Plants in Colored Wall Charts with Explanations.
Come see these beautiful illustrations of plants depicted in their full-color life cycles.
With grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, these charts have been conserved and digitized, and are freely accessible at the Biodiversity Heritage Library: www.biodiversitylibrary.org
One of my favorite volumes in the Lenhardt Library’s rare book collection (although I love them all) is Autumnal Leaves by Ellen Robbins, published in 1868. Each of the 18 original watercolor paintings of autumn leaves looks so true-to-life that you want to reach out and pick a leaf off the page.
This volume, specifically, the sumac watercolor, will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent exhibition which runs March 1 to May 14, 2017. I’m delighted that an East Coast audience will have the opportunity to share this treasure.
Although we’ll miss the book while it’s away, through the Lenhardt Library’s digitization program, each page of the book is viewable in the Illinois Digital Archives repository.
Winter is the time to curl up by a fire with all the books you didn’t get to this summer—and this year had some fantastic reads in botany and horticulture. But how do you know what to pick up in a sea of books?
Each year at its annual conference, the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL) awards prizes for the best new works in botany and horticulture that contribute to the body of literature in these fields. Not surprisingly, a selection of these award-winning books are available to be borrowed from the Lenhardt Library. Here are our top four picks—find them online, or check them out on-site on your next Garden visit.
Shopping online? Order through our Amazon Smile link; a portion of your purchase is donated to the Garden.
2016 Award for Significant Contribution to the Literature of Botany or Horticulture:
The Curious Mister Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds by E. Charles Nelson and David J. Elliott ; foreword by Jane O. Waring
University of Georgia Press, 2015. (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book Ser.)
456 p.; 238 paintings, illustrations, photos, and maps
ISBN 9780820347264 (hardcover)
Lenhardt Library call number: QH31.C35C87 2015
2016 Award of Excellence in Botany:
On the Forests of Tropical Asia: Lest the Memory Fade
by Peter Ashton
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in association with the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, 2014
ix, 670 pages; color photos, illustrations, and maps
ISBN 9781842464755 (hardcover)
Lenhardt Library call number: SD219.A84 2014
2016 Award of Excellence in Plant Identification & Field-Guides:
California Mushrooms: The Comprehensive Identification Guide
by Dennis E. Desjardin, Michael G. Wood, and Frederick A. Stevens
Timber Press, 2015
559 pages; color photos
ISBN 9781604693539 (hardcover)
Lenhardt Library call number: QK605.5.C2D47 2015
2016 Award of Excellence in Biography:
James Sowerby: The Enlightenment’s Natural Historian
by Paul Henderson
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2015
336 pages; 150 color plates, 30 halftones
ISBN 9781842465967 (hardcover)
Lenhardt Library call number: QH31.S69H46 2015
CHBL is the leading professional organization in the field of botanical and horticultural information services. It is comprised of librarians who work in botanic garden libraries across North America and in university libraries focused on botany and agriculture. Several Lenhardt Library staff (Leora Siegel, Stacy Stoldt, and Donna Herendeen) have served as CBHL board members in the past—and at present.