Thematics: Britain in Bloom


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15 July 2021
Inspired by a trip to a public garden, Katrin Raynor-Evans picks a few horticultural stamp designs in her latest guide to collecting stamps by theme.

Back in June I had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Bridgwater situated in Worsley, Manchester.

Despite it being open for just four weeks, the garden was already bursting with colour and life. I felt inspired to take a look at the stamps celebrating the RHS and over the next few weeks, I will delve into our love affair with gardens, selecting stamps with a plant or insect theme. 

The RHS has a long, rich history dating back to 1804 when it was founded at Hatchards bookshop located in Piccadilly London.

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In 2004, the RHS celebrated their bicentenary and to mark the occasion the Royal Mail issued a set of six stamps featuring photographs of flowers popular with gardeners and are examples of just a few of the types of flowers for which the RHS is official international registrar. 

The images are bright and clear which are set against a black background making the colours really ‘pop’. The set features an E rate stamp and displays the image of the Clematis ‘Arabella’.

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If you are unfamiliar with E rate stamps, these are classed as Non Value Indicator (NVI) stamps and can be used to post to European destinations up to 100 grams and whatever the postal rate is at the time (currently £1.70 from the 1st January 2021).

The 1st class stamp features a Dahlia ‘Garden Princess and the second class features a Dianthus Allwoodi Group. 42p Miltonia French Lake, 47p Lilium ‘Leon Pixie’ and 68p Delphinium ‘Clifford Sky’ complete the set.

Which one is your favourite?

The UK wasn’t the only country celebrating the bicentenary of the RHS.

The Bahamas issued a set of four stamps celebrating this prestigious charity which featured the Cattleya on the 15 Bahamian cent stamp, the Hibiscus on the 65 cent stamp, a Canna Lilly on the 70 cent stamp and a Thunbergia on the 80 cent stamp. The stamp designs are taken from realistic oil paintings by Bahamian artist, Alton R Lowe who takes his inspiration from the Bahamian landscape and island life.  

Rather interestingly, the connection between the RHS and stamps does not end there.

When I was researching the Royal Mail stamp issue, I read that the RHS Hall in Westminster was home to Stampex between 1969 to 1995 and hosted Philatex for some years. The hall itself hasn’t featured on any stamps but it has appeared on a number of postmarks – another fantastically interesting branch of philately to collect!

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