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Margaret Best in ‘The Florilegium,’ the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

by Margaret Best, posted by Deb Shaw

BAGSC member Margaret Best has a painting in the newly released book ‘Florilegium’ to mark the bi-centennial of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, Australia.

A Florilegium Society for the gardens was formed with Shirley Sherwood as the honorary Patron and Beverly Allen as president. One of the goals of the society was to produce a high quality book containing full-page works by various botanical artists to portray a diverse array of plants of significant importance to the garden. The complete exhibition of works is to be hung at the gardens from the end of July to November and is expected to travel to the Shirley Sherwood gallery in 2018.

This is a project of over three years in the making and the superb volume has just been released. The book showcases works by 41 Australians artists, 13 British artists, two South Africans, two Japanese and one each from the United States, Canada, Netherlands, France, Korea and New Zealand.

Leslie scouting out the tree, Schotia Brachypetala at The Huntington. © 2013, Margaret Best, all rights reserved.

Leslie Walker scouting out the tree, Schotia brachypetala at The Huntington Gardens. © 2013, Margaret Best, all rights reserved.

The only Canadian with a painting in the book is Margaret Best. She flew to Los Angeles in 2013, and with the help of Leslie Walker and Janice Sharp, Margaret was able to find a sole specimen of a Schotia brachypetala, in The Huntington Gardens. This is a South African native tree known in Australia as the ‘drunken parrot tree’. Wild parakeets are attracted to the gardens by the clusters of small red flowers that drip nectar. After a short period, the copious quantities of nectar ferments and causes the birds to become intoxicated!

Margaret working in Janice's studio. © 2013, Janice Sharp, all rights reserved.

Margaret working in Janice’s studio. © 2013, Janice Sharp, all rights reserved.

Graciously hosted by Janice, Margaret was able to work in her wonderful studio for a week to complete drawings, colour matching of flowers, leaves and pod specimens for a large study. More than year later, Margaret visited a remarkable specimen in Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town. With the help of the curator Ernst Van Jaarsveld, she was able to acquire a small branch from the landmark tree. That caused a last minute composition change to include the textures of bark and new growth emerging from older parts of the tree.