“Conservation is in the Grootbos DNA – it doesn’t know fences or boundaries,” conservationist Sean Privett shared at the launch of Grootbos Florilegium. Sean is the author of the book that is a first for botanical art. It is a spectacular collection of intricate botanical illustrations by 44 of the greatest botanical artists in the world. Years in the making, this book celebrates decades of Grootbos conservation efforts.

Found on a narrow coastal belt on the southern tip of Africa, GROOTBOS is a private nature reserve dedicated to protecting, rehabilitating and conserving the indigenous flora and fauna of the Cape floristic kingdom. The flats, slopes and valleys of Grootbos are a microcosm of the extraordinary botanical diversity that characterizes the region, one of the most species-rich habitats in the world.

Grootbos Florilegium is a unique marriage of art, natural science and storytelling used to share the treasures of our botanical heritage, diversity and sustainability.

grootbos florigelium book launch

Grootbos Florilegium: A first for botanical art 

Opening eyes and hearts to the beauty and value of the landscapes that sustain us all – that is the wish of Sean Privett.

The spectacular hard-cover work is brimming with meticulous detailing. It documents floral structures, bursting seedpods, brightly coloured beetles, foraging ants, floating pollen and striped field mice. This is coupled with scientific facts and narrative stories about each plant. This is a florilegium immersed in the natural world, informed by ecology and the fragility of our botanical heritage.

Each chapter includes an up-front ‘Wunderkammer’ of artists’ notes, colour swatches, working drawings and archaeological details. These reveal a glimpse into the creative process and ancient origins of the area. These field notes and archaeological tidbits bring life to imagery already bursting with it.

grootbos florigelium book launch
Celebrating 25 years of conservation in the Cape Floristic Kingdom, the Grootbos Florilegium is not only the first contemporary florilegium in Africa but also the first in the world to feature pollinators alongside plants. The book contains over 120 original artworks by 44 local and international botanical artists. The volume captures the plant and insect life of the particularly diverse and charismatic Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. The reserve inhabits a narrow coastal belt on the southern tip of Africa, home to over 900 species of fynbos. 

Michael Lutzeyer, the founder of Grootbos, dreamed of inspiring a broader public about the fynbos and its intricacies. He was inspired to use botanical art to showcase 25 years of dedicated botanical surveying and conservation on the reserve and across the regional Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. World-renowned botanical artist Vicki Thomas was instrumental in formulating the plan of a Grootbos florilegium. Working with Lutzeyer, Thomas and the Grootbos team embarked on coordinating groups of artists to contribute to this groundbreaking collection of botanical art.

grootbos florigelium book launch

Vicki Thomas – Amaryllis belladonna

The delicate artworks in the book were gathered over a period of four years. During that time, the artists spent hours in the Grootbos landscape, immersing themselves in the Cape Floristic Kingdom and observing the plants and pollinators alongside them.

his additional detail, captured in an accompanying ‘vignette’ to each artwork, illustrates these intricate relationships. Each double-page spread depicts the artwork and highlights some prominent scientific facts. It also has an engaging narrative text, revealing fascinating stories about each plant.

“My interaction with the people so passionately protecting this environment and the artists depicting it has been a richly enhancing and bonding experience – the pinnacle of a long career in botanical art,” says Thomas of her experience as the coordinator of Grootbos Florilegium and one of the featured artists. 

grootbos florigelium book launch

Mieko Ishikawa – Ferraria crispa vignette

Privett, also director of conservation at Grootbos, says, “We trust that Grootbos Florilegium will inspire and contribute towards a deeper interest in, and love for, the Cape flora and all its complexities.”

All profits from the sale of books, prints, and Grootbos Florilegium tours of the nature reserve and the new Hannarie Wenhold Botanical Art Gallery will go towards the Grootbos Foundation, to be split equally between conservation and cultural programmes.

>Grootbos Florilegium is available for purchase online and in-store at select retailers. 

grootbos florigelium book launch

About the Foundation 

The Grootbos Foundationis a non-profit company established in 2003 by Grootbos Private Nature Reserve owners, the Lutzeyer family, with a vision of the conservation of the Cape Floral Kingdom and the upliftment of local communities. 

The foundation aims to conserve, rehabilitate and protect the unique Cape Floral Kingdom, and to develop sustainable livelihoods for its people through ecotourism, enterprise development, sports development and education.


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