Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Botanicum By Katie Scott and Kathy Willis Big Picture Press, £20

Billed as a ‘curated guide to plant life’ one might feel overwhelmed before even opening the oversized cover of this new work,. But what lies inside is a beautiful and tremendously well written guide to plant life, from algae to the Amazon waterlily.

Central to the simplicity and quality of this book are Katie Scott’s exquisite illustrations. Some pages of her art, such as a plate of orchids and bromeliads, will leave the reader hard pushed not to cut them out and frame them. The large format of the book fully does the illustrations justice.

The title starts with a splendid double page spread of an illustrated plant family tree, before splitting the illustrated plants into seven sections, starting with algaes and finishing with plants that have adapted to different environments.

A background of the science and history of the featured groups of plants is elegantly explained. Willis writes with an admirable lightness of touch when distilling the history and formation of such vast plant groups as ‘tropical trees’ and ‘alpine plants’ into just a few paragraphs. Each plant featured is captioned separately from the body of the text and each chapter is broken up with a wonderful ‘flock style’ print of Scott’s that would make the most delightful wallpaper. A volume to treasure.

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