The Grootbos Florilegium project aims to showcase the unique specimens of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Through the project, it hopes to preserve and celebrate the region’s botanical wonders.

The Cape Floral Kingdom is the world’s smallest yet most diverse floral region. The UNESCO World Heritage Site lies at the southern tip of Africa and over 9,000 plant species, most of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world, are found here.

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Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a set of luxury lodges committed to preserving the region, lies within the Cape Floral Kingdom. They have spent decades researching and observing the plant species, not to mention even discovering six completely new species. As a way to preserve and celebrate the region’s botanical wonders, Grootbos called upon botanical artists across the globe to create Africa’s first contemporary florilegium.

A florilegium is a collection of botanical artworks from a particular region. The Grootbos Florilegium joins the ranks of just 11 other living collections of original botanical art around the world, including the Highgrove Florilegium which records the plants found in the garden of Charles, Prince of Wales.

What is Botanical Art?

Botanical art is a scientific way to express the world’s unique flora. It’s an artistry that dates back to medieval times. While the artwork is scientifically and botanically correct, more emphasis is placed on the aesthetic value of the plant or flower. (In contrast, however, in botanical illustration, the emphasis is on the scientific record. Botanical accuracy is needed to identify the plant.)

Brunia laevis - Lynda de Wet

“The greatest flower artists have been those who have found beauty in truth; who have understood plants scientifically, but who have yet seen and described them with the eye and hand of the artist.”

Wilfrid Blunt – Ch. 1, “The Botanical Artist” in The Art of Botanical Illustration

The Grootbos Florilegium

Botanical artist Vicki Thomas, Grootbos resident botanical artist Chris Lochner, and Sean Privett, the Grootbos Foundation Conservation Director, spearheaded the Grootbos Florilegium. They invited botanical artists from all over the world to spend time on the reserve and document the specimens through their art. The artists spend months studying their specific plant and slowly capturing it with scientific precision.

Erica cerinthoides - Gillian Foster

An aim of the Grootbos Florilegium is to showcase the harmony between the plants, animals, and people that live in the area. One thing that sets the Grootbos Florilegium apart is that many of the artists have created vignettes to contextualize their plants within the ecosystem in addition to their main paintings.

Their collection, currently at 120 pieces of art, is now on display at Forest Lodge; however it will later reside in a custom-built art gallery on the reserve, with original artwork stored in special vaults to preserve them for future generations.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, complementing any safari to Southern Africa. It sits within an ancient milkwood forest surrounded by flowers and looking toward Walker Bay. Three unique properties sit on the reserve. Grootbos Forest Lodge consists of 16 freestanding one- or two-bedroom suites nestled in the ancient milkwood forests among lush flora.

Meanwhile, Grootbos Garden Lodge has been completely rebuilt as of 2022. In fact, the family-friendly lodge celebrated its grand re-opening in April.

And finally, Grootbos Villa is one of the finest luxury accommodations in South Africa. It is without a doubt the most exclusive offering within the reserve. It is available for exclusive-use only and is ideal for families and groups of friends.

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Visit the Grootbos Florilegium with Ker & Downey

Explore the fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom and see the Grootbos Florilegium with Ker & Downey. Our destination specialists are at their best when creating a journey unique to you. To start planning, contact Ker & Downey. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for daily travel inspiration.