The Language of Flowers

A geranium sits on the window in The Tale of Two Bad Mice

The Language of Flowers explores Beatrix’s relationship with flowers through her art and life. It invites visitors to look beyond her beloved characters, to see the colourful and realistic flowers around them, showing her talent as both an artist and scientist.

Bringing together her books, sketches, watercolours and decorative items, the exhibition looks at flowers as both medicine and food, and the importance of Beatrix’s flower-filled Hill Top garden in her world-famous books.

Growing up with Flowers

Beatrix grew up drawing, painting and learning about flowers. During her childhood she was instructed through formal flower painting lessons as well as spending summers sketching the kitchen gardens and wild meadows at the large country houses she and her family spent their holidays. Botany and flower painting were typical and acceptable subjects for creative young Victorian women like Beatrix, and combined her passions for art and science.

Floral ceramics from Beatrix’s childhood have had special conservation work this year, funded by the Royal Oak Foundation.

Useful Flowers

Through details in her books, we can see how Beatrix valued knowledge about plants and flower as medicine and food. The watercolours of wise Mrs Rabbit show her burrow filled with dried lavender but Jemima Puddle-duck is not so clever. She can be seen picking tasty herbs in the garden- not knowing that thyme and sage are tasty seasonings for duck. 

Wildflowers and wildlife

Beatrix surrounds her characters with beautiful and realistic wildflowers, giving clues to season and location: Squirrel Nutkin plays with rosehips in the autumnal forest. Buttercups surround Mr Jeremy Fisher’s watery home. Mrs Tiggy-winkle lives in the hills among the sturdy bracken ferns. 

Flowers and insects go together and Beatrix was fascinated by both. From childhood she closely studied insects and they were often included in her work- from her early Christmas card designs to the ladybird and butterfly that torment Mrs Tittlemouse.

Living with Flowers.

Beatrix was inspired by cultivated flowers in the garden and in the house. She captured her love for potted geraniums in several of her books. Illustrations from The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan, one of Beatrix’s most flower-filled books, show the colourful and unruly cottage gardens of Near Sawrey that Beatrix loved.

The Language of Flowers exhibition runs at the Beatrix Potter Gallery until 30 October. There is no need to prebook your visit. 

Coinciding with a major exhibition of Beatrix Potter’s work at the V&A, the Beatrix Potter Gallery is one of three Lake District properties hosting exhibitions dedicated to the author, illustrator and conservationist. Find out more about the exhibitions at Allan Bank and Wray Castle.  

A close up of the Beatrix Potter mural at Allan Bank

A Letter to the Earth from Beatrix

This year Allan Bank hosts a new mural commission by Japanese artist Hideyuki Sobue.

The Potter family standing outside Wray Castle

Brought to Light: the photographs of Rupert Potter

Step into the Dining Room and discover our new display Brought to Light: the photographs of Rupert Potter.