RHS Lindley Library

RHS Lindley Library
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The RHS Lindley Library is the world’s leading horticultural library. Covering over 500 years of gardening history, the library collections include historic and contemporary books on gardening, botanical artworks, photographs and the personal archives of a number of notable gardeners and garden designers. The main library collection is held at the RHS Lindley Library in London but materials can also be accessed via the garden libraries and reading rooms at all of the RHS gardens sites across the country.

The public lending library in London now includes a dedicated exhibition space hosting a continuously changing programme of small displays showcasing rare and significant items from the collections.

Venue Type:

Archive, Library

Opening hours

Public lending library and exhibitions open 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).
Research and viewing rooms bookable by appointment.

Admission charges


The collection in London comprises over 50,000 books ranging in date from 1514 to the present, over 300 current periodicals as well as many older runs, 22,000 botanical drawings, the country's largest collection of horticultural trade catalogues, and the Society's archives. Members may borrow books from the Library, by post as well as in person.

Collection details

Agriculture, Fine Art, Natural Sciences, Archives, Social History, Design

Key artists and exhibits

  • William Hooker
  • Nellie Roberts
  • Claude Aubriet
  • Georg Dionysius Ehret
  • Lilian Snelling
  • Anna Paoletto
  • Kate Nessler
  • Graham Stuart Thomas
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Pressing plant specimens at George Forrest's campsite

Collecting in the Clouds

  • 20 November 2017 — 2 March 2018 *on now

As recently as a century ago there were still vast areas of the world whose botanical potential had yet to be seriously investigated. The mountainous interior of Western China was one such region and there was great excitement when access opened up in the early 20th century. George Forrest, Reginald Farrer, William Purdom and Frank Kingdon-Ward were among many collectors to begin new explorations. This display at the RHS Lindley Library, presenting their photographs and books, will explore the significance of their work and lasting impact of their discoveries.


Free Admission



Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
 Unbound album of c.19th-century Chinese artworks

Discover Historic Bookbindings

  • 26 January 2018 2-4:30pm

This study session will be presented by Dr David Pearson and RHS Lindley Library staff. It will take a closer look at the history of bookbinding from the 16th to the 19th century and provide an opportunity to explore historic bindings from the Rare Book collection at the RHS Lindley Library.

From goat and pigskin, metal and parchment, to cloth and dust jackets, bookbindings have been used to protect text and images for thousands of years. Before books were mass produced in the 19th century they were often bound at a different time and in a different place to printing, giving each book a unique, hand-crafted binding.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Public: £25
Student/ RHS Member: £20
Please call 020 3176 5830 to book tickets and quote reference number 14880​.
Lines are open Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm.



George Forrest and members of his indigenous plant collecting team

Yours and a Crowd

  • 12 February 2018 6-8:30pm

In this evening talk, Leonie Paterson, Archivist at RGBE and Yvette Harvey, Keeper of the Herbarium at RHS Wisley, will reveal the secret life of plant collectors. Examining the photographs and personal records of the professional plant collector George Forrest, they will look at the process of plant collecting and the people behind it.
The talk will take place in the RHS Lindley Library, including the opportunity for a late evening viewing of the public library and the exhibition 'Collecting in the Clouds'.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Free admission.
Place are limited - advance booking required.
Please call the library on 020 7821 3050 or email library.london@rhs.org.uk to reserve a place.



RHS Lindley Library
80 Vincent Square
Greater London





020 7821 3050

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.