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Gardens to exhibit provocative flower photos

3 December 2007

Botanic Garden to exhibit provocative flower photos

Wellington Botanic Garden is the place to head this summer to see a free international exhibition of flower photographs which highlight the sexual nature of plants.

Called Herbarium Amoris, which translates as Herbarium of Love, the exhibition features more than 40 large, dramatic, close-up photographs of flowers by Swedish photographer Edvard Koinberg. The photos are a tribute to Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who created the naming system for plants 300 years ago that is still used today.

The system gives all plants and animals two names – a generic (family) name and a name for the species. Linnaeus named some 7700 plants and 4400 animals but he was also fascinated by the sexuality and breeding organs of plants (the male stamens and female pistils) and when his book Systema Naturae was published in 1735, it took just a few months for him to become famous throughout the world.

Photographer Edvard Koinberg says Linnaeus’s ideas caused some alarm, but people were also titillated by them. He was accused of leading young people astray with his accounts of the plants’ love life but this simply added to his reputation.

The exhibition will be opened by Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast and the Swedish Ambassador to New Zealand, Her Excellency Karin Ehnbom-Palmquist, at a private function at 6pm on Thursday 13 December. The exhibition in the Garden’s Treehouse Information Centre will open to the public the following day, Friday 14 December, and run until 10 February (except 24, 25, 26 and 31 December and 1 and 2 January when the Treehouse will be closed).

“We’re proud to be able to stage this exhibition,” says Mayor Prendergast. “It has been touring the world since 2003 and the Botanic Garden showing will be the only New Zealand opportunity to see it.”

The Treehouse is open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 4pm at weekends. Extended hours are planned on some nights during the Summer City festival so people visiting the ASB Gardens Magic concerts at the Soundshell can check out the photos before the show. To coincide with the exhibition, people will also be able to take a walk through the Garden, and another at Otari-Wilton’s Bush, to check out plants on two Solander trails.

Daniel Solander, student protégé and key promoter of Linnaeus and the Linnaean classification system, met fellow botanist Joseph Banks in England and accompanied him to New Zealand on James Cook’s ship Endeavour. They collected some 325 plants, some of which are included on the Botanic Garden and Otari trails.

Emeritus Professor Bergianus Bengt Jonsell is visiting Wellington in conjunction with the exhibition and will be giving a lecture in the Hunter Building at Victoria University on Wednesday 12 December at 6pm, which will examine Linnaeus’s classification system.

Note – the photographer, Edvard Koinberg, will be in Wellington from 9 to 14 December to set up the exhibition and attend the opening. More information is available at www.herbariumamoris.se


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