Bloomin’ marvellous!

Botanical Drawings by Luke Linnaeus Pope, c.1825 (Ref: MS 2138)

Botanical Drawings by Luke Linnaeus Pope, c.1825 (Ref: MS 2138)

Spring may have got off to a slow start (brrr!) but now it’s here we in the Iron Room are all getting very excited about gardens and gardening!  First we had fantastic success at the Chelsea Flower Show with Birmingham City Council’s Library of Birmingham themed display “Enlightenment” which won a gold medal.  If you missed it at Chelsea, you can catch it again at the BBC’s Gardener’s World Live event.  If all that wasn’t exciting enough the Library is looking for volunteers to help with the outdoor beds in the new Library’s terrace gardens.  We can’t wait to move to the new Library to enjoy the new outdoor spaces.

Meanwhile we’ve been digging around, if you’ll excuse the pun, to look at some of the many archive collections we have relating to gardens and gardening and one of my favourites is the volume known as “Select Flowers, Vol. III”.  It doesn’t sound much but it contains some exquisite botanical illustrations dating from about 1825.

Botanical Drawings by Luke Linnaeus Pope, c.1825 (Ref: MS 2138)

Botanical Drawings by Luke Linnaeus Pope, c.1825 (Ref: MS 2138)

Botanical Drawings by Luke Linnaeus Pope, c.1825 (Ref: MS 2138)

Botanical Drawings by Luke Linnaeus Pope, c.1825 (Ref: MS 2138)

There are more images from this volume in a previous post

It was created by the Handsworth-based draftsman and botanical artist Luke Linnaeus Pope. Named after the great Swedish biologist and botanist of the eighteenth century Carl LinnaeusBloomin who developed a scientific classification system still used today.

Luke Linnaeus Pope worked for the family nursery which had been established by his grandfather, Luke, in about 1786 and then passed to Luke Linnaeus’ father John Pope (1772-1850).  John’s three sons Luke Linnaeus, Alexander and Leonard were also in the nursery business and at its height sold plants to many prestigious customers including James Watt junior, son of James Watt the engineer, who lived at Aston Hall between 1818 and 1848.  We are lucky enough to be able to trace exactly which plants were bought because of the rich survival of records from the Watt family which are in the archive collections in the Library.

James Watt jnr notebook

James Watt jnr notebook (MS 32196/20-12)

Aston Hall was subsequently acquired by the City and you can now visit the Aston Hall and Gardens and get some garden inspiration for yourself!

aston hall


Rachel MacGregor

7 responses to “Bloomin’ marvellous!

  1. I would love to have more information and see more of the drawings as this is my 4th Great grandfather in my family tree. Many of our family are avid gardeners so the interest has obviously come down through the genes.. Since I live in Australia I am unable to get to Birmingham to search the archives.
    I saw this reference to some of his work sold via Christies:and wonder how I can get to see these bookplates too .(see details below)
    yours sincerely
    Carla Oakes (
    8009 / Lot 636
    Bookplates — POPE, LUKE LINNAEUS. Select Flowers… Vol. III. Handsworth Nursery, n.d. 4to, 240 x 190 mm., vellum; minor marginal staining. Printed title and 88 watercolor drawings with the Latin names pencilled in, illustrating the flowers grown in Handsworth Nursery, near Birmingham — JACKSON, M.A. The Pictorial Flora, or British Botany Delineated… London, 1840. 8vo, 216 x 114 mm., modern calf. Numerous partly colored lithgraphed plates. Nissen BBI 964. Francis T. Hill, KKM/HSNY, bookplates. (8)

    Price Realized (Set Currency)

    • macgregorrachel

      We’re pleased you liked the selection of images we have included on the blog – as far as we know “Volume III” is the sole surviving work by the Pope family, and the auction catalogue you have found above refers to the volume we now own, generously donated to us some years ago. I’m sorry you won’t have a chance to visit us in our new library any time soon but we shall certainly look into digitising more of this very special volume so that it can be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible.

  2. Carla, I am a cousin of yours in the USA and I have tons of photos of the art work by Henry and spent hours in the Birmingham Museum photographing Pope’s work, his work books and notes. I also have a copy of the book entitled, “The Life and Times of Henry Pope”. I assume you can see my email, please write to me I have so much information to share with you.

    Charles Pope b.1829 d.1872 is my Great Great Grandfather, his daughter, Ellen Jane b.1872 d.1957 is my Great Grandmother she was born just after his death, her daughter, Ellen my Grandmother b.1898 d.1970, John Richard b.1928, is my Dad (and a dead ringer for Henry) then me, Tracy b.1960. Henry is my Great Great Uncle.

  3. Huh? You write to me as I’ve left my email. Aren’t you interested in sharing the family history?

    • macgregorrachel

      Hi, I’m sorry but Carla isn’t able to access your email address and we (the moderators) do not publish people’s email addresses on this forum. Thank you so much for sharing the information that you have which we have published.

  4. Pingback: 200 and Counting! | The Iron Room

Leave a comment here or send enquiries to

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s