Alison Turnbull

The Family Beds

This artist’s book by Alison Turnbull is a practical guide to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. The collection at Oxford has been colour-coded in this book to represent the shift from a morphological or visual system to one based on genetics.

Taking as a model the pocket-sized volumes that were published in the 17 th century in early botanic gardens across Europe, the book has a comprehensive plant list and a foldout colour-coded plan of the garden with corresponding coloured pages – red, pink, blue, violet, aquamarine, lime green, yellow, orange and green – for making notes.

It includes a foreword by Louise Allen of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, and an essay by Professor Mark W Chase of Kew Gardens, exploring the ways that gardens, art and books approach scientific information.

The Family Beds occupies a place in between the abstractions of plant science and the earthy realities of horticulture, highlighting the complex relationship between the two.

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