Collections of nursery catalogues, postcards, garden guides and ephemera giving a unique insight into the social history of gardening, and an important part of our nation’s cultural heritage.
London and Wisley hold an extensive range of nursery catalogues. Catalogues date primarily from the 1860s, (a few examples of 18th century catalogues are held in London) and are mainly of British firms.
Horticultural trade catalogues can tell us much about plant history, and gardening trends. As trade ephemera these collections are important historical records, of use to historians, researchers and vital to the Society’s botanists.
Read our Research Guide on Nursery Catalogues.
Catalogues may be consulted in the research collections at London and Wisley. Wisley’s collection covers mainly 20th century firms and some seed catalogues. London’s collection covers mainly 19th and 20th century firms, and includes seed and sundries catalogues.
Ask our enquiry teams to check if we have catalogues for individual firms.
E-mail London library: firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail Wisley library: email@example.com
Garden guidebooks vary considerably in quality, from the amateur and anodyne to through pieces of historical research. Desmond’s Bibliography of British Gardens frequently lists 'Official guidebook' as the first item in its entry for a particular garden.
This collection is therefore a most important supplement to the other sources of information about the history of individual gardens. This collection is in development and is beginning to be catalogued.
A delightful record of British municipal parks - of keen interest to designers, local authorities and others involved in restoration and conservation. After two decades of park-making, coverage of parks in the horticultural press diminished.
For many of the country’s parks, only the local press or picture postcards provide any information.
Our collection of 5000 postcards, mostly post-1902, is one of only two publicly accessible collections in this country.