conservation appeal workRHS Libraries Conservation Appeal

Please make a donation today to the RHS Conservation Appeal and help us restore our heritage collections, including 19th century books, artworks, archives and photography
The RHS Libraries hold the world’s finest collection of literature on horticulture and related subjects, spanning over 500 years of our gardening heritage.
Our collections number more than 90,000 books and 100s of periodical titles covering garden history and design, practical gardening, botany, horticultural science, botanical art and much more.
Our 250,000 photographic images give a unique insight into the social history of gardening, and are an important part of our nation’s cultural heritage. In addition we have more than 30,000 original botanical illustrations. It is one of the most important and comprehensive botanical art collections in the country.
Help us preserve our gardening heritage by making a donation today


plant hunter journalsRHS Plant Collector Journals
Between 1821 and 1864 the Royal Horticultural Society commissioned ten plant collectors to explore the botanically rich regions of the world. From the Americas to China, between them they travelled to every continent except Australia in search of new ornamental, tropical and commercial plant varieties. Plants, bulbs, specimens and seeds were sent back to the Society’s original garden at Chiswick for scientific research and propagation and for seeds to be distributed to members. A large proportion of all plant introductions to British gardens during this period were a result of the RHS collectors.
As part of the Society’s academic and scientific remit, collectors were required to keep detailed journals of their botanising expeditions. The RHS Lindley Library holds unique, and in some cases unpublished, manuscripts, journals and correspondence detailing their travels.
The journals extend beyond tracing plant introductions to recording local climate, habits and customs, as well as practical and economic details of travelling abroad at this period. Today these handwritten documents – including letters, finances, articles of agreement, and plant and seed lists – form a comprehensive insight into 19th-century plant collecting. These unique records, detailing amazing trips, are now in need of careful attention to ensure that these fragile resources are available for future generations to learn from and enjoy.
Each collection of journals and their associated paperwork, will be fully restored and conserved.
This will include:

  • Cleaning and removal of accumulated stains and dirt
  • Repairing paper tears and creases
  • Re-sewing bindings
  • Repairing covers and broken spines
  • Removing of individual letters from current poor bindings (held by animal glue on acidic papers)
  • Creating new conservation bindings mimicking the style of originals before finally being stored in custom built boxes

Work will take between three and eight months per collection.

Help us conserve these unique journals by making a gift today

Donate by phone on 020 7821 3125
Donate by post using our donation form 632 kB pdf


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We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.