The RHS Lindley Library looks after a collection of over 7,000 orchid portraits. This is a working collection – even in the age of digital photography, a watercolour painting remains the best way of recording these fleeting blooms. Orchid breeders have been creating hybrid orchids since the 1850s and the RHS Orchid Committee has been judging and giving awards to new orchids since 1889. The committee wanted accurate portraits of orchids to help make sure that it did not give an award to the same orchid twice under different names. The first orchid artist was Nelly Roberts, who held the role for nearly 60 years.

In addition to the orchid portraits, our collections include an impressive number of rare books on this fascinating and diverse plant group.