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The Royal Society of Edinburgh @ Dumfries and Galloway Workshop at Drumlanrig Castle and County Estate, Thornhill Chair:

Professor David Ingram OBE VMH FRSE Universities of Edinburgh and Lancaster Saturday 25 July 2011 Gardens in Art and Science
From the early medicinal gardens of the Italian Renaissance to the role of botanical gardens in addressing concerns such as climate change today, gardens and plants have helped to shape scientific understanding for centuries. At the same time, gardens and plants have inspired countless generations of artists and served as the subject of some of the worlds best loved paintings and decorative arts. Experts from the worlds of art history, botany and horticulture gathered at Drumlanrig Castle for a one-day workshop looking at the contribution of gardens and plants to science and art. Topics discussed included the gardens of Dumfries and Galloway, botanic gardens and their collections, the renowned painter of flowers, Henri FantinLatour, and Impressionist Gardens. The programme was devised and chaired by Professor David Ingram OBE VMH FRSE, of the universities of Edinburgh and Lancaster and formerly Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Gardens of Dumfries & Galloway: Art or Science? Allen Paterson Former Director of Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario Mr Patersons opening talk was illustrated with images of gardens in southwest Scotland, several of which are internationally renowned. He took the ideal role of botanic gardens since early times to respond to the question in the title of his talk, defining botanic gardens as places where science, education and public amenity are based upon the world of plants. Indeed the strap-line (so common in modern businesses and public institutions today) of Ontarios Royal Botanical Gardens uses the phrase affirmatively: Where the arts and sciences meet. It describes the situation perfectly. In addition to the traditional labelled, documented plant collections, herbarium laboratories and themed gardens, a visitor centre holds a 500-seat auditorium, a publically-available library, demonstration workrooms, a shop and a restaurant. This pattern is typical across North America; with little State funding, the cultivation of friends of all categories is as essential as the cultivation of the plants themselves. Concerts, lecture series and art and flower shows encourage public participation throughout the year. Such egalitarianism was uncommon and certainly less extensive, in Britain until the reforms of Thatcherite government insisted that cultural institutions, including botanic gardens, had to find more of their own funding. Charitable Foundations, Friends and Alumni Associations followed and new Visitor Centres began to offer public programmes inconceivable in earlier times and inevitable today. There, the arts and sciences meet and are seen to be mutually supportive. The fine new John Hope Gateway at Edinburgh demonstrates this splendidly; the Botanics have always been available to the public, but their extended role and unlimited potential are now more manifest, to the benefit of all.

Mr Paterson emphasised that such developments have not detracted from the traditions of botanical research and display of documented plant collections. Indeed, they have often been enhanced by the new necessity of effective interpretation at several levels. While the perceived dichotomy between art and science can easily be dispersed in a modern botanic garden, it can be seen equally as erroneous in any garden of note. Cultivation of plants cannot fail to be based upon scientific principles and facts soil types, weather and local microclimates, manipulation of genetic potential in the production of cultivars, choice of species from across the world and so on but the arrangement, juxtaposition and training of the seasonal palette depends upon art. And gardens are frequently embellished by the traditional artforms of sculpture and ornamental buildings. Great Renaissance sites were often programmatic gardens with classical themes taken from Virgil and Ovid. Many 18th-Century landscape gardens in Britain followed this pattern while at Stowe (in Buckinghamshire) the programme included philosophical and political allusions understood by the cognoscenti. Modern gardens seldom stray beyond the science within horticulture and the art of design, but in Dumfriesshire is a unique essay linking the Two Cultures. Charles Jenckss Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack illustrates the physics underlying our universe. On a smaller, though no less intense, scale, Ian Hamilton Finlays Little Spartacus uses classical and literary allusions to build an inclusive artwork up in the Pentland Hills. Mr Paterson posed a further query: What are gardens for? And using the 17thCentury John Parkinsons phrase For use and for Delight, he showed images of local gardens that respond to both questions. The list included plantsmens gardens at Corsock House, Steadstone House, Biggar Park and his own garden nearby at Grovehill House. The grounds of The Crichton Royal, now a University Campus, in Dumfries are essentially a therapeutic garden while the gardens and policies of Drumlanrig Castle (where the study day was held) have been laid out, adapted and embellished over four centuries as a finely-wrought setting for the central gem, the great house itself. Each is an individual essay in creativity, where art and science, use and delight combine to make what Francis Bacon famously described as The Purest of Human Pleasures. Question Could the science be brought out more into the public arena so people have more appreciation for the plants? Mr Paterson suggested that there is a danger of being too didactic. People are often unnecessarily put off by botanical nomenclature and in what they are apt to see as pretentious Latin. He believes that if a visitor spends time in a botanic garden and goes away even slightly better informed then that is sufficient, but there is also a need to have effective interpretation there for those who want it.

Botanic Gardens - Gardens for Science Emeritus Professor John Parker Former Director, University of Cambridge Botanic Garden Professor Parker proposed that botanic gardens are not the same as other gardens; they are different as they are focused on the plants themselves rather than on human perceptions of plants. What are gardens? An image of a painting of the Virgin Mary surrounded by a walled garden depicts it as a misplaced section of heaven. This painting, in the Persian tradition, clearly portrays plants that have distinct significance and religious overtones, giving a sense of the spiritual as well as the aesthetic importance of gardens. Rubens Garden of Eden is an example of a painting depicting the world of plants within gardens as existing for humans to use and exploit. Professor Parker described an early medieval plan of the Benedictine Monastery garden at St Gall, which shows a garden of simples, or herbs for medicinal use. Professor Parker described plants as the worlds great chemists, and explained that there has been a long tradition of using plants in a medical way throughout history. During the Renaissance, the study of medicine at the universities, including investigative dissection of the human body, was installed as an exact science. The scientific advances were accompanied by a need to systematise plants from a medical perspective. So plant collections, to aid this systematic study, became part of the science of medicine, and the places where they were held were often referred to as physic gardens. Thus botanic gardens had their origins in this era of scientific revolution. The Botanic Garden of the University at Padua, established in 1545, is usually considered to be the earliest foundation. It is classical in style, incorporating statuary and water, with beds of rectangular shape arranged in concentric circles. These beds were planted with species linked by their medicinal uses plants for treating heart complaints, liver diseases and so on. Professor Parker characterised botanical gardens as having collections, like living museums of such things as aromatic plants but having no necessity for an aesthetic sense in their design. They were, and are, primarily research collections, and, as a corollary, teaching collections too. The establishment of botanic gardens quickly spread from the Renaissance Italy of the early 16th Century to other European countries. Thus the 1587 Botanic Garden at Leiden in the Low Countries was similar to that at Padua, having quadrants of rectangular beds holding collections. However, the science had moved away from the concept of grouping plants together for their medicinal uses towards different relationships and categorisations of the plant world. The Dutch were amongst the first European colonial powers to routinely collect plants throughout their spheres of interest; thus Protea species from the Cape of South Africa were soon displayed at Leiden. Botanists quickly realised that other parts of the world had differences in their floras from that of Europe. This diversity needed to be understood and this knowledge incorporated into the classification and systemisation of plants. The first botanic garden in England was opened at Oxford in 1621, after a visit to Leiden by the Earl of Danby. The design of the Oxford Botanic Garden still resembles an Italian physic garden of its era. The establishment of these gardens spread rapidly throughout Europe in the late 16th and 17th Centuries. Carl von Linne, botanist and zoologist, also known as Linnaeus (17071778), moved to Uppsala Botanic Garden, Sweden, in 1728. This Botanic Garden had been established in 1655 and, when Linnaeus arrived, he found it in a very tired and rundown state. He set about correcting this as he developed his life of classification. Linnaeus can be considered as the father of modern taxonomy; he believed his role in life was to give names to everything on earth, Gods systematist! His

classifications were not uniquely biological he referred to both animate and inanimate objects, such as rock, as species. In the 18th Century the world was opening up to European colonialism and new plant species were flooding into Europe. Linnaeus was very pragmatic about the classification of these new species and, rather than try to fit them in to the system of existing knowledge, he devised a sexual system of classification to cope with the explosion of new plants. He simply grouped them according to how many stamens and pistils the flower possessed. In this way, Linnaeus was able to create a catalogue of the diversity of the world using a practical rather than a biologically meaningful system. Botanic gardens spread worldwide to South America, Asia and Africa under the guidance of the great European trading institutions such as the East India Company. By the 18th Century, botanic gardens in the home countries were incorporating glasshouses, so providing artificial environments where exotic specimens could be grown and enabling wondrous worlds to be recreated in a European environment. Underlying all these botanic gardens was the principle of plants for use. John Henslow (17961861), Professor of Mineralogy and Botany at Cambridge University, changed the botanic garden landscape of the 19th Century. He considered the Garden at Cambridge unsuitable for the needs of modern botany. During his era science became truly modern, and could no longer be satisfactorily considered as natural philosophy. Thus the new study of botany became focused on the science of plants themselves, not simply concentrating on their medicinal or other economic benefits. Professor Parker stated that plants themselves were interesting as the major component of the biological world, not just because of their use to people. But these plant collections for the study of scientists could also be arranged with due regard to aesthetics. At Cambridge, under Henslow, this gave rise to the first major example of the British style of gardening, referred to as Gardenesque, in which the design of the landscape gives an opportunity to appreciate the individuality of the plants themselves. This style is evident in Henslows new Botanic Garden, and is clear in the design of the Systematic Beds. No longer were these beds the simple rectangles of the classical tradition, but were instead curving and irregular in size and shape, themselves formed into curving patterns without any straight lines. The new knowledge was presented in a series of 150 beds containing different families of plants, now classified after the natural system of the Swiss botanist de Candolle. Henslow also laid out the specimens within the Botanic Garden at Cambridge to exemplify his own research programme on the nature of species, which he based on studies of patterns of variation in nature. Thus he proposed that the units detected in nature through studies of variation corresponded to species, and the reality of these species could be established by tests of hybridisation. Charles Darwin was one of Henslows students and he left Cambridge with a sound knowledge of Henslows research on species. The concepts of variation and hybridisation emerged later as the foundations of his own understanding of the nature of species as expressed in On the Origin of Species in 1859. Botanic gardens in the later 19th Century became the foci for experimental botany, for example for studies of pollination behaviour. Thus, at Cambridge, William Bateson in 1895 pioneered a new science which he later christened genetics. His chosen experimental system was the sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus. In one startling experiment he crossed a white sweet pea with a flat standard petal with a white sweet pea with a hooded petal; the next generation was fully coloured. Bateson deduced that two distinct genes were involved in the specification of flower colour, and that genes and the characters they determined could be teased apart. The number of botanic gardens across the world has increased enormously in the

20th Century, particularly recently with our growing appreciation of the significance of biodiversity to the planet. Sadly, this is not true of the United Kingdom, where few botanic gardens are still associated with teaching and research and most University support for them has been withdrawn. It has been a sad tale of closure. The botanic gardens of the developing world, however, combine science and horticulture in a thriving way. Thus the new Istanbul Botanic Garden is a site dedicated to conservation, not aesthetics; its focus is to help conserve the fasteroding flora of Turkey, not to provide a beautiful environment for the public to enjoy. Similarly, Mexico City Botanic Garden specialises in propagating rare native species of cacti which have been destroyed in the wild in Mexico due to demand from collectors in Western Europe. In addition, some plant species extinguished in nature by human actions have been restored using specimens contained in botanic garden collections. Professor Parker concluded by reiterating that botanic gardens are not like other gardens. They are designed for the glorification of plants themselves, not for the glorification of humans.

Focus on Logan Botanic Garden Richard Baines - Curator, Logan Botanic Garden Mr Baines gave a short overview of the Logan Botanic Garden. Logan Botanic Garden is located to the south of Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway and is Scotlands most exotic garden. The garden plays host to a bizarre and beautiful plant collection from across the globe, including a magnolia, over 100 years old. The garden setting benefits from the north Atlantic drift/Gulf Stream, providing a temperate climate ideal for nurturing plants. The normal winter minimum temperature is -3C and the highest temperature recorded to date is 28C. The lowest ever temperature recorded at the gardens was -8.1C in 2011 however, this was very different to the temperature recorded in Dumfries at the same time, which plummeted to -16C. Since 1969, Logan Botanic Garden has been managed by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Vital research and conservation is carried out at Logan and the gardens continue to source material from far and wide. The plant collection has been dramatically enhanced in recent years and unusually, due to the climate, many of the specimens grow outdoors. There are over 3000 species contained in the gardens and of these over 200 are endangered. Logan Botanic Garden is home to ten champion trees, the largest living specimens in the country, and has 3.5 acres of walled garden and a woodland garden containing examples of trees from South American and Australasia. The gardens are also the keepers of three national plant collections, including Leptospermum and Gunnera. Logan Botanic Garden has exciting plans to develop better visitor services and other displays, including a South African collection. The gardens also host a large number of international students undertaking practical training and taking part in cultural events. Garden staff also work with local school children, offering education in a practical setting. Mr Baines concluded by saying that gardens should be for all and should offer a positive experience.

Focus on Fantin-Latour: Painter of Garden Flowers Ms Emma House Keeper of Fine Art, The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle Ms House introduced her talk by advising the audience that many of the paintings she would be discussing were currently on display in an exhibition at The Bowes Museum, County Durham. The Bowes Museum was the gift of John Bowes, the illegitimate son of the 10th Earl of Strathmore, and his wife Josphine, a Parisian actress, to the people of County Durham. Between them they gathered together an amazing collection of art and decorative objects. Henri Fantin-Latour was born in Grenoble, France in 1836 and was to become one of the finest 19th-Century painters of flowers. Originally, his paintings were not particularly revered or liked by French society and, like many an artist, he had difficult times when life was a struggle to survive. Fantin-Latours big break came about thanks to the artist Whistler, who introduced Henri to Londons artistic and intellectual society and to members of the Greek community in London, many of whom also became his patrons. Fantin-Latour met Edwin Edwards in Paris in 1860, and visited Edwards and his wife Ruth in England the following year. The Edwards, in addition to purchasing many of Fantin-Latours paintings themselves, also praised his work amongst their society friends, helping him develop a base of patrons and eventually becoming his agents in England. This, obviously, was not without financial benefit to themselves. Henri Fantin-Latour met and married Victoria Dubourg, herself an aspiring artist. She inherited her uncles home in Bur, Normandy in 1880. The garden of this cottage was filled with an abundance of flowers, inspiring Fantin-Latour to create endless floral compositions. Ms House presented and described images of a selection of Fantin-Latours paintings to the audience, describing how Professor Ingrams assistance in identifying many of the plants therein and explaining their significance was invaluable and added a new dimension to the current exhibition. Again exemplifying how, in the world of botany and gardens, art and science are compatible and mutually beneficial. Fruit & Flowers, 1866 Ms House described how Professor Ingram identified this as an impossible painting, referring to the paradox of the spring flower selection positioned next to autumn fruits. Fantin-Latour used the same model fruits in a variety of paintings next to flowers from differing seasons. The painting also includes depictions of Narcissus, an 18th-Century plant originating in the Mediterranean, Spanish bluebells and Wallflowers from northern Europe. Nasturtiums, 1880 This painting depicts the Nasturtium variety Tropaeolum Majus rising up from the bottom of the page. Nasturtiums were originally imported from Peru and many early botanists named plants in accordance with similar scents from already named species. The Nasturtium, as such, meaning twisted nose, was named after another plant in the cabbage family which had a similar peppery taste and smell. At a later date it was decided that this classification was incorrect and the name Tropaeolum meaning trophy of shield and helmet, was afforded to the plant. Ms House explained how Professor Ingram pointed out that the plants in this painting are all clones with double heads and the only way to reproduce them is by taking cuttings. Capucines, 1887 These flowers were taken from the garden in Normandy and have a fresh look. These Nasturtiums are reproduced by seed and show no uniformity or clones. Their colour is very bright and at dawn and dusk, as with many flowers, this is even more intensified. The glass vase in which they are depicted was a gift from Mrs Edwards and was designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

Rosy Wealth of June, 1886 This painting seems to include the whole garden of Bur. The scent in the room at the time of painting must have been overwhelming. The Delphinium was grown in France for many years and new varieties from Russia and North America strengthened the existing ones. The Amaryllis Belladonna, an old French garden plant, has a rich fruity smell. Dahlia hybrids were brought across from South America in the later 18th Century and by the mid 19th Century were very popular in France. Other flowers in the painting include Larkspur; Begonia; six roses. Including a Bourbon rose; and Phlox, the flame flower with a snuffy pungent scent. Of all the botanical images Henri Fantin-Latour created, his most praised are those which depict roses. Many roses are very difficult to identify from paintings, as often information such as their scent, leaf detail and extent of thorn detail is difficult to ascertain from a two-dimensional image. Working with rose expert Peter Beale, Professor Ingram managed to identify many of the roses in Fantin-Latours paintings for the first time. Many of the roses depicted in Fantin-Latours paintings can still be purchased and grown today. Fantin-Latour died in Normandy in 1904. He is buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, France. Impressionist Gardens Dr Clare Willsdon - Reader in History of Art, University of Glasgow Dr Willsdon took the audience on a journey through Impressionist images, explaining the painters' thinking on gardens and horticulture and the political undertones involved in the Impressionist movement. Specific works were also analysed and discussed, in some cases from the Impressionist Gardens exhibitions at the National Gallery of Scotland and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, for which Dr Willsdon had been Academic Adviser and co-curator (201011). Dr Willsdon stated that Impressionist gardens reveal an intriguing and close relationship between science and art. Many Impressionist artists had a keen interest in horticulture and tended their own gardens. Claude Monet was particularly interested in botany, subscribed to the proceedings of botanical congresses, and owned many specialist volumes on botany and horticulture. He stated that If I have become a painter, I owe it to flowers and that gardening was a metier I learnt in my youth, when I was sad, implying that horticulture is quintessentially cathartic; a means of renewal. Gustave Caillebotte was another keen Impressionist-gardener. Monet and other Impressionist painters treated the garden as, in effect, an artistic laboratory for the study of nature, as shown in Pierre-Auguste Renoir's painting of Monet painting in his Garden at Argenteuil (1873). Indeed Monet, Renoir and Edouard Manet all used Monets garden at Argenteuil as inspiration for paintings. Monet went on to develop a serial approach to painting which involved using a succession of canvases throughout the day to capture the same scene in changing light. He perfected this technique in his Water Lily paintings during the early 20th Century, and considered his garden at Giverny, whose pond they portray, to be his most beautiful work of art. The flowers in Monets paintings are frequently quite clearly identifiable. He also often used new varieties of flowers in his paintings, as shown by his depiction of Dahlia hybrids in his 1873 painting The Artists Garden at Argenteuil (A Corner of the Garden with Dahlias). Dr Willsdon discussed some of the works which led to Impressionist garden painting, including still lifes by Eugne Delacroix, who regarded science and art as interchangeable, and the painting African Woman with Peonies, created by Frdric

Bazille in 1870. The flowers depicted in this image have botanical precision. Bazille painted it as a gift for his sister-in-law who had just given birth, and the flowers and plants appear to allude to this, as several had symbolic or medical connotations. The iris was known as the flower that announces events clearly relevant to the birth of the child whilst peonies were believed to annul spells, and they therefore safeguard the child since they clearly outnumber the sprig of laburnum, a traditional symbol for a spell, in the models left hand. Viburnum (guelder rose) was used to treat spasms resulting from childbirth. Not only does this painting signify the coming together of art and science, but also the union of folklore, science and art; at the same time, its effect of natural lighting predicts that of Impressionism. lmpressionist painters also used flowers and gardens to experiment with colour. Renoir exploited the colours of dahlias in his painting Garden in the Rue Cortot (1876) and Caillebotte's Garden at Petit Gennevilliers (1893) depicts the brilliance of the dahlias' primary colours. The public gardens of big cities, including those such as the Parc Monceau in Paris, provided 'green lungs' for the people and amongst the original reasons for their establishment was their ability to help destroy toxic emanations. Gardens were integral to Baron Haussmanns reconstruction of Paris for Napoleon III in the 1850s and 60s, creating a symbiotic relationship of sewers below ground and trees above in the fight against cholera. These gardens, with their new plantations of trees, and decorative plants from overseas, such as banana trees, were in fact as much about Napoleons power his regularisation of Paris as about art and science. However, the Impressionist painters, hating Napoleon IIIs autocratic regime, hardly ever painted his flower beds. The paintings that do depict these public areas often give glimpses into the painters' political allegiances. Manet's Music in the Tuileries (1862) shows the historic Tuileries gardens almost as an untamed forest, and includes images of Republican friends; Renoirs Champs Elyses during the Paris Fair of 1867 (1867) shows the flower beds not in bloom. These details can be seen as deliberate snubs to Napoleon. Impressionist painters liked to paint their own gardens, as they could directly shape how their subject looked. In the 1870s and 80s, after the trauma of the FrancoPrussian War and Paris Commune, the new art-science of the Impressionist garden was implicitly associated with hopes for a brighter future, and ideals of patriotism and republicanism. In Manets Laundress (1876), for example, with its imagery of cleansing, growth, childhood and light refraction, the sunflower is particularly suggestive, as it was the emblem of the new Republican Republic. The use of the exotic red-flowered Epiphyllum plant in the foreground of Monet's Artists House at Argenteuil (1873) adds a vital splash of colour; the red vibrates against the blue of the pots and the shadow is infused with violet reflections. Such effects, consistent with scientific colour theory, led critics to complain of the Impressionists Violettomania. Berthe Morisots imagery of her young daughter in her holiday garden asks us to look at nature with the childs unprejudiced eye, just as the scientist Claude Bernard sought to replace preconceptions with empirical evidence. At the same time, her delicate brushwork suggests the vulnerability of child and flowers so that emotion is allied with science. Dr Willsdon concluded by showing how, from the late 19th Century, the Impressionist garden was associated with the new science of psychology in Albert Besnards murals for the Ecole de Pharmacie in Paris, and developed in new decorative directions in works by Gustav Klimt, whilst Monets Water Lily murals for the Orangerie in Paris were created as images of regeneration after the First World War, with the support of the former doctor and French premier Georges Clemenceau. She stated that the art of the Impressionist garden brings many elements of science into play and that there is little evidence of a schism between artist and scientist.

Art Nouveau - the Garden Invades the Art Howard Coutts Keeper of Ceramics, The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle and Professor David Ingram OBE VMH FRSE Universities of Edinburgh and Lancaster and Former Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh The Bowes Museum was the gift of John Bowes, the illegitimate son of the 10th Earl of Strathmore, and his wife Josephine, a Parisian actress, to the people of County Durham. Between them they gathered together an amazing collection of art and decorative objects. Josephine Bowes was one of glass designer Emile Galls earliest patrons. During the mid 19th Century, whilst the British were developing mass production, the French continued to manufacture hand-made quality objects. The French government funded the arts and sent pieces chosen to show their expertise to the public exhibitions. The major state-funded porcelain factory was that at Svres, whose pieces were always well researched. The mid 19th Century also saw the rise of the Art Nouveau movement, an augmented taste for Japanese art, and the emergence of Impressionist art. These new tastes began to be reflected in the styles of manufactured objects, with pottery overtaking porcelain in popularity and the development of cramique impressionniste; a style of pottery incorporating Impressionist art and using decorative glazes. State factories, such as Svres, came under threat from these rivals and they were criticised for an obsession with the Greek taste and the poverty of the forms, the bad taste shown in the choice of designs and ugliness of its colours. The Svres factory was sensitive to this criticism and made changes; including recruiting new designers, such as Rodin, and trying to keep up with advanced French taste. A key figure of the Art-Nouveau era is Emile Gall (18461904), botanist and glass designer. Gall saw flowers as having personalities. He produced vases that are flowers in their own right using a technique that has a carved effect similar to Chinese work. He also managed to achieve pastel colours in glass, something never previously achieved in the man-made world. Galle also designed furniture. This was not structurally solid, rather elegant but not practical. The furniture design was elaborate, incorporating botanical elements, aiming to bring plants in to the drawing room. This was French design to be seen rather than used. One example of his work is a fire screen with a Clematis design incorporating an elongated botanical design in the Art Nouveau style. The Svres factory in the 1890s used semi-freelance artists. The Vase de Blois, signed by Gbleux is a typical Art-Nouveau vase measuring over five feet tall. On first appraisal, the design would appear to show elements of a tropical rainforest put together in a random manner. Professor Ingram analysed the Vase de Blois, describing the plants and flowers depicted: Ondontoglossum (Wallichianum or Albertianum) These hybrid orchids originate from South America, possibly the cultivar, and were very popular in 19th-Century glasshouses. The images of the plants are painted in great detail and include artistic representations of aerial roots. Paphiopedilum, cultivar Leoniae This is a solid looking, ground dwelling hybrid ladys slipper orchid originating in the Himalayas. Cattleya gaskelliana Var. Alba A tree-dwelling orchid with aerial roots from South America. Nepenthes This carnivorous pitcher plant grows high in the canopy of South East Asia. It was widely grown in glasshouses in Victorian times.

Palmae These plants are sketched into the background, holding the composition together. Two types of palm are depicted, the first a palm with fan-shaped leaves, very like the hardy palm Trachycarpus fortunei, originating from China or Burma and grown widely in Europe. The second is a pinnate palm, the leaves resembling a feather. It is similar to the date palm Phoenix cactylifera, again widely grown in Southern Europe for many centuries. Melopsittacus undulates These are budgerigars which are found in large flocks in Australia. They were imported into Europe in the 19th Century. France was a great centre for breeding budgerigars in the 19th Century, where they were kept in aviaries. Professor Ingram concluded that, rather than being randomly put together, it is likely that the painter of this vase created the composition following a visit to a botanic garden, probably the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, where all these plants would have been on display. The Vase de Blois is another example of art and science working together. The Vase is not only aesthetically pleasing but also firmly grounded in both the science and the artistic style of the day.

Opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the RSE, nor of its Fellows The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotlands National Academy, is Scottish Charity No. SC000470