Or: How my love for walks, nature writing & sketching currently seems to merge in a joyful celebration of all things growing –


Phacelia tanacetifolia; “purple tansy” or “fiddleneck” 

It seems I am about to sketch a florilegium for myself, for the simple joy of doing it – .

The florilegium – a short history

In medieval latin a florilegium (plural florilegia) was a compilation of excerpts from other writings: from flos (flower) and legere (to gather): literally a gathering of flowers, or collection of fine extracts from the body of a larger work.

Medieval florilegia were systematic collections of extracts taken mainly from the writings of the church fathers  from early Christian authors, but also pagan philosophers such as Aristotle, and sometimes classical writings.


Sambucus nigra; “black elder”

The book cited as most likely establishing the definition of “florilegium” as a book of flowers is Florilegium a small book published in Antwerp, Northern Belgium, around 1590 by the engraver Adrian Collaert. The entire content of the book consisted of small engraved flower pictures.

The publication of florilegia in the 1600s began in response to a number of factors. During the European aesthetic revolution of the 1600s, plants in general and their fruits and flowers in particular came to be appreciated for their beauty and visual appeal. Prior to this time, plants were valued primarily for their medicinal, culinary, and household uses. This newly developing aesthetic appreciation coincided with European empires expanding and establishing trade routes throughout the world, making it possible for royal and wealthy patrons to import exotic species of plants, flowers, and fruits. All these imported beautiful and exotic plants led to development of a new concept in gardening—the “flower garden.” Instead of growing a garden of herbal and medicinal plants for practical use, the flower garden was planted solely to display plants for their aesthetic value. The garden gave pleasure and enjoyment as well as status to the patron. Florilegia, or “flower books,” were initially books of the cultivated plants in these flower gardens. These florilegia were “beautiful books,” usually having as the only text the name of the plant.


Rubus fruticosus; “blackberry”

Today, florilegia are compiled as visual records of a living collection of plants, such as the plants in a particular botanical garden or region, or perhaps a group of endangered plants. Florilegia can be compiled and published as a book, or they can exist as a curated collection of botanical art.

Recently Prince Charles commissioned a florilegium to illustrate rare Romanian wild flowers, The Transylvania Florilegium showcases 124 watercolour paintings from 36 different illustrators.


Rubus fruticosus; “blackberry” & clematis

A florilegium built of simple sketches might be contradiction in terms – but I’ll do it anyway!


19 Comments Add yours

  1. lepastelbleu says:

    wonderful! bellissimo!

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you – I have so much fun doing this 😉

  2. bluebrightly says:

    This post is an utter joy! Your write-up about Florilegium is interesting, the link – wow, what an amazing book! – is fun, and most of all, your drawings are beautiful. The Fiddleneck watercolor is extraordinary – it looks like it could spring open, it has so much life. The Black elder left page is beautiful. The Rubus pages = you know Elsworth Kelly’s plant drawings. right? You achieved the same fullness he achieves in the simple outline drawing of the leaves, I love how solid they appear. Thank you for this inspiring post!!

    1. Sigrun says:

      Dear Lynn, thank you so much for wonderful encouraging words! Thank you also for mentioning Ellsworth Kelly. I must admit I barely know his work, and have never seen any of his drawings until now – when all of a sudden (and I suppose you knew this would happen ;)) I have fallen head over heels in love with his wonderful simple lines. Such incredible joy!

      1. bluebrightly says:

        Wow, that makes me very happy. I just came back for another look here….this post is a keeper! 😉 Ellsworth Kelly is known for those drawings, but even more so for extremely simple, primary color abstracts, and to think about those paintings and his drawings is interesting, i’ve always been intrigued that the same man did both kinds of work. In person, the paintings have a lot of power, and so do the drawings.

  3. Rio says:

    Lovely! Thanks for these–needing some beautiful pictures these days.

  4. This was so interesting! I wasn’t familiar with the term Florilegium, and I feel I should have been, as a writer, gardener, naturalist, and reader. I always glean knowledge from your posts. Thank you!

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you, Cheryl!
      The term FLORILEGIUM is new to me too; and so reading about it, and connecting it to my own current makings, has been very interesting. Words as flowers – flowers as meanings; there must be many new discoveries to be made!

      1. And isn’t that an exciting thought?!?

  5. pflanzwas says:

    Your sketches are beautiful, so vivid! It will be, no, it already is, a wonderful Florilegium! I love it!

    1. Sigrun says:

      such wonderful encouragement – thank you ☺️

  6. Ward Mertens says:

    Where and how did you learn to draw like that? I’d like to get started too. Your drawings are very inspiring.

    1. Sigrun says:

      First: THANK YOU!
      next: I think I mainly learn to draw by looking. But also – I spent 18 months studying architecture (30 years ago) it might still have an influence on my line.

  7. Wonderful–keep at it!! I am eager to see more.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you, Ann 😘

  8. Alli Fai says:

    So lovely!

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you, Alli, glad you like it! I have had so much fun making these pages 😉

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