On 15th September 2019 members were invited together with founder and past members to celebrate the society’s 20th Anniversary. Coffee and biscuits were served on arrival. Members had been invited to bring along paintings which made a marvellous display. Jeni Neale had searched the archives and printed off events from each year of the society and together with folders of information there was a lot to browse through.
One of the founder members Jane Edwards gave a short history of the society which was very informative especially for new members. Our invited speaker Lucy Smith, one of the botanical artists based at Kew, gave a talk on her research entitled ‘Walter, Waterlilies and Waders – The Victoria Waterlily Project’. Lucy started with a brief history of Walter Hood Fitch and his collaboration with William Hooker. Walter created four lithographic plates of Victoria Regis in 1851. There are two species in the genus Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana. Three plants from the seeds of V.amazonica had been grown and one was sent to Chatsworth, another to Syon House and the third kept at Kew.. The plant at Chatsworth was the first to flower and it was cut and taken to Queen Victoria and named for her.
A 2014 exhibition at Kew inspired Lucy’s project and she aims to document the species in detail. We heard how Lucy had to get permission to stay in the glass houses after closing time as the flower opens in the evenings and a gardener must be present to cut the flower. Lucy photographs the flower ( wearing waders) and makes detailed drawings. Lucy has made detailed drawings of both species, buds, flowers, dissected flowers and leaves. We admired the amount of detail that she has already recorded and she has even been to Denver Botanic Gardens to document a plant they have there.
Following the talk a buffet lunch was served followed by cutting of the cake by our Chair Moira Ashby. This was a lovely day to remember.