Books from our heritage collection

Watercolour of Cymbidium ensifolium from the 19th century album Plantae Icones JaponicaeThe RHS Library faces many challenges in caring for its unique and valuable collections.

From rare 16th century herbals to the personal notebooks of 19th century plant collectors, photographic images and botanical illustrations, the RHS Libraries hold the world’s finest collection of literature on horticulture and related subjects.

Poor bindings, acidic paper, and years, if not centuries, of use mean these treasures are now in need of careful restoration.

Together, we can ensure they are available for future generations of gardeners and historians alike.  
 
Help conserve our gardening heritage by making a donation today.

Donate online

An example of our Plant Collector Journals

RHS Plant Collector Journals 

One of the RHS Library’s treasured collections, the unique RHS Plant Collector Journals are in desperate need of careful attention.

Between 1821 and 1864, the RHS commissioned ten plant collectors to explore the botanically rich corners of the world. From the Americas to China, they travelled the world in search of exotic new plant varieties to introduce to Europe.

Plants, bulbs, specimens and seeds were sent back to the RHS for scientific research, propagation, and distribution to members.

Many of the plants, trees, colours and textures you find in your garden today are thanks to these individuals. 

The collectors were required to keep detailed records of their botanising expeditions, documenting important plant introductions. These manuscripts, journals and letters also tell of local habits and customs across the world, and give a fascinating insight into travelling abroad at this period.

Each collection of journals will be fully restored and conserved which will take between 3 and 8 months per collection. 

This will include:

  • Cleaning and removal of stains and dirt
  • Repairing paper tears and creases
  • Repairing covers and broken spines
  • Removing individual letters from poor bindings (held by animal glue on acidic papers)
  • Creating new bindings mimicking the style of original, and finally being stored in custom built conservation boxes

Help conserve our gardening heritage by making a donation today.

Donate online

Donate by phone on 020 7821 3125
Donate by post using our donation form 44 kB pdf
 

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.