Published by Big Picture Press, 2016.
Botanicum is the third book in the hugely popular Welcome to the Museum series published by Big Picture Press. The two previous titles were the best-selling Animalium (also illustrated by Katie Scott) and Historium. All three books are updates of the illustrated compendium format.
Botanicum is published in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, where author and professor Kathy Willis works as Director of Science. The concept behind the book is that Botanicum is a plant museum which is open all year round. The book is divided into seven galleries and the illustrated exhibits are numbered and then explained in the key on the adjacent page.
The scope of the book is impressive and ranges from the first plants on Earth millions of years ago to the cultivated flowers of today. There are trees, grasses, vegetables and flowers that are native to the UK but the museum also includes more exotic, tropical plants. There’s also a whole gallery dedicated to how plants have adapted to their environments.
The beautiful illustrations are exquisitely detailed and include cross sections to explain how plants work. Although there is quite a lot of text, it is really well-written and very accessible (even to someone with a limited knowledge of plants, like me). I really enjoyed reading about how vines and creepers, with stems that can barely support their own weight, have evolved to attach themselves to trees, rocks and buildings instead. It was fascinating to learn the story of Charles Darwin, the Christmas star orchid and its pollinator, the hawkmoth. There’s so much in this plant museum to look at, marvel over and learn about. Botanicum is a book you can dip in and out of, linger over and return to, time and again.
This is a large format, high quality book. With its wealth of botanical knowledge and over 100 full colour illustrations, it is the ultimate reference book for those fascinated by the natural world.
Suitable for children aged 10+
Thank you to Big Picture Press for sending me this book to review.