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Reminiscences of a Botanical Painter

Articles: Reminiscences of a Botanical Painter

Mary Comber Miles was perhaps destined to be involved in the worlds of botany and horticulture. Her grandfather, James Comber built the renowned Nymans Gardens in Sussex, England, in a creative partnership with the owner, Ludwig Messell, and later with his son, Leonard. Mary’s father, Harold F Comber, a horticulturist and botanist, collected plants for a syndicate of garden owners including the Messells. He travelled twice to the Andes and to Tasmania seeking new plants that would prove hardy in British gardens. Encouraged by her school and family, Mary applied for a scholarship to The Cambridge School of Art for a grounding in art that would lead her into the field of botanical illustration. She has since had a distinguished career as one of the West Coast’s top botanical illustrators. She provided these reminiscences as she assembled an exhibit of her work for the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture at Strybing Arboretum.
In 1997, I visited Chile and Argentina, attempting to follow a little in my late father’s footsteps. In both countries, I was lucky enough to be face-to-face with many of the plants, or their offspring, that appeared in his published field notes. I co...

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