08 September 2014

return to KEW: FLOWER POWER - North of Finnis

sometimes wading through the excesses of magazines is daunting. 
I confess, I am just perusing some from March and April
To my delight, an unearthly fashion editorial in Departures magazine, styling by Amanda Ross and pictures by Sarah Maingot, reminded me of my trip to Kew Gardens in June of 2009. It was early days for little augury, so again, I confess, my obvious desire to go back. 

Here from 2009, FLOWER POWER, and the fine specimens painted by Marianne North.

 photograph by Sarah Maingot,

 an overwhelming over door North Style

In looking at Marianne North's beautiful works of art, true labors of love- I am overwhelmed by the volume of work and the love. Marianne North waited until she was 40 to start fulfilling the work of painting some 900 botanical specimens. North was independently wealthy- having been sole heir of her family's estate-something necessary for such an undertaking especially for a middle aged Victorian woman.

Her passion led her and her brushes to North and South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka. Armed with a few painting techniques, she traveled and painted: to record what she saw- not to paint beauty. The result of her travels- Both, an unprecedented record and beauty.
Her final journey led her to create a gallery with its interior modeled on a Greek temple for the nation of Britain at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (click to see the restoration)

one of the 900

Room with a View I


detailing Beauty
(photograph by Tobias Harvey)

NORTH-Signature Style

Marianne North

(all photographs from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew unless noted) See all the paintings at this link

why not your own North Gallery- Finnis Style?

Wall Flowers
the inspiration of horticulturist Valerie Finnis.

photograph by Jan Baldwin

A hall enlivened by horticultural photographs cut out of magazines in the Nottinghamshire home of the late Valerie Finnis. Pale Blue Muscari (grape hyacinth) and the silver-grey Artemisia bear her name. Valerie Finnis created gardens, specifically-after teaching at the Waterperry Horticultural School for Women for 30 years- Her own. Still- lifes by Finnis, more 55,000 transparencies survive, along with photographs of her gardener friends. To see Valerie Finnis' photographs (click)to read this wonderful post by Each Little World:Dressing for the Garden.

Room with a View II

photograph by Jan Baldwin

Valerie Finnis Pale Blue Muscari

Valerie Finnis Artemisia

Valerie Finnis amongst her work
photograph by Jan Baldwin

North and Finnis created their own worlds - abroad, at home: Both leaving their own lasting impressions on us. Think about a Finnis wall in your own world.


 Departures magazine March/April issue

the Telegraph UK , Marianne North: The Flower Huntress by Kathryn Hughes
World of Interiors January 2008, Female of the Species, by Frances Spalding
www.kew.org, Restore a Painting, Save Our Heritage
World of Interiors, April 2009, Snug with a Pug and a Trug, by Amicia de Moubray


  1. Dear- One of my new favorite posts to date. I would love to see these 900. Just beautiful and what a wonderful idea to recreate it at home. B

  2. The Valerie Finnis wall is so pretty. Can't wait to recreate this idea. I did not know anything about her, though I am familiar with her namesakes.

  3. Thank you la. I've spent ages on this glorious post
    and totally inspired now.

  4. Rose- This is when I wish I had the nerve to paint- maybe some day. I would love to see any of your inspirations.!G

  5. Wow, I love her work! Thank you for introducing me to her, if her goal was not to paint what is beautiful but to capture what she saw, the truth is that nature is beautiful and just by capturing it, she also painted the beautiful.

  6. I thought she was a gutsy lady, apart from being a talented artist. I would NOT go where she went, even with company.

    Thanks for the link
    Art and Architecture, mainly

  7. Noth, an artist, adventurer, and way ahead of her time. Her botanical works of art are so impressive.
    Bravo to Valerie Finnis as well. The photograph with her pug is wonderful!

    The Arts by Karena

  8. Imagine my surprise, reading this wonderful post and discovering a link to my own. Thanks! I like the connection you made between the two women and their walls. I have a red room with a wall of mostly floral art and lately I've been adding blue floral works to my blue room. Thanks again.

  9. Loved meeting both theses women , Marianne was encouraged by Darwin to travel to Australia.

  10. Ahhh, Valerie Finnis, one of my favorite English woman, a telephone friend......a dear, dear and talented woman. And thank you for the info on Marianne North, at Kew! You are a wealth!

  11. Oh thank you so much for this splendid post. I always enjoy Little Augury, and this one made my day with that super link to Each Little World - what treats you both are. And I love the idea of a Finnis wall of flower images - want to make that happen in some form. Thanks!



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