Despite all of her exotic travels, the “huntress of flowers” wrote in her memoirs, “No life is so charming as a country one in England, and no flowers are sweeter or more lovely than the primroses, cowslips, bluebells, and violets that grow in abundance all around me here.”
Marianne North spent her life in pursuit of plants, and dedicated her skills into painting them. Over the course of her extensive travels which began in 1871, she documented over 900 species of plants, from North America to Asia, India to South America. In 1880, on the suggestion of Charles Darwin, she traveled to Australia and New Zealand, painting many of their unique species.
This extraordinary gallery opened specially to hold her work in 1882. It has since been refurbished, and is a truly gorgeous temple to plant life, as well as the only permanent gallery dedicated to a single female artist’s works in Britain.
The restoration of the building in 2009 included restoration of her 833 paintings, including one, hidden behind a Victorian era backing board, that the gardens and curators had never seen before.