This past weekend, I visited Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. I’ll write about my rain-shortened visit to the Arboretum in another post, but while the rain chased most of the Aboretum’s guests into the visitor center, I took the garden path less followed to the Sterling Morton Library to view the Flora! Illuminated exhibit that runs through June 30.
The exhibit is an A through Z journey of botanical illustrations featured along the walls and display cases of the library.
Along with the illustrations are woodcut letters that serve as drop caps for the plant names, accompanied by a witty or poignant quote where the plant is mentioned.
The most breathtaking illustration was the magnolia by Georg Dinysius Ehret, featured in the 1771 edition of Mark Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. the volume’s three foot wingspan was displayed beautifully in a glass case between the library’s reference and reading room.
The reading room was a warm, flowing place that oozes botanical and natural history. It is the kind of place where I could lose myself for days among the great lovers of plants. Outside the reading room, behind rain drizzled panes of glass, lay the May T. Watts Reading Garden, which I hope to visit someday when the weather is more appealing.
As a photographer and graphic designer, but a poor freehand artist, I’ve always held botanical illustrators in the highest esteem. Before leaving the library, I paged through a few books in the reference room, including this copy of The Besler Florilegium: Plants of the Four Seasons by Gerard G. Aymon.
The Sterling Morton Library was the perfect diversion during the deluge outdoors, but would be a beautiful place to browse through the pages of botanical history on any day of the year.