Licensees Focus


7 Jul - 2022

For The Love of Orchids celebrates the work of Nelly Roberts, the first RHS orchid artist

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the launch of a new collection from longstanding licensee Moorcroft, a renowned producer of heritage art pottery and a leading name in the world of ceramic design.

Called For The Love of Orchids RHS Collection, these five beautiful pieces of art pottery are not only a glorious celebration of the orchid. The collection also showcases the exquisite work of Nelly Roberts – the first RHS orchid artist – in the year that marks the 150th anniversary of her birth. Each piece of art pottery is made entirely by hand in the Arts and Crafts tradition and designed by Moorcroft designer Nicola Slaney.

The first and longest-serving RHS orchid artist, Nelly Roberts was employed to paint life-sized illustrations of award-winning orchids. The skill with which this watercolourist’s brush captured the sheer beauty of her subjects during her 56-year career as an illustrator for the RHS Orchid Committee is incalculable. 

Nelly’s illustrations received no global fame outside the horticultural world, but 150 years after her birth that is about to change. Nelly Roberts left behind thousands of studies of orchids, many of them held within the RHS Lindley Collections, the world’s finest collection of botanical art. Renowned Moorcroft designer Nicola Slaney has now developed five Moorcroft designs, each holding a different orchid cultivar or hybrids, and all inspired by Nelly’s work.

The five pieces are: The Dell (a jug), Almandin (a plaque), Vine House (a clock design), Rameses (a ginger jar) and, of course, Nelly Roberts (a vase). The handmade designs within the collection range in price from £170 to £895. The designs are available as limited editions, numbered editions or open editions that will be discontinued when the collection closes. Heights vary from the 12-inch vase named after Nelly herself to a 9-inch jug and the demure 6-inch ginger jar.

For The Love of Orchids RHS Collection launches on 4 July at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival and will be available to view and purchase worldwide from:

  • Moorcroft’s retailers, both UK and export: www.moorcroft.com/retailers 
  • www.moorcroft.com
  • The Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre.

All the designs commemorate RHS-award-winning orchid cultivars or hybrids painted by Nelly Roberts, whose own name was immortalised in two orchids Cattleya Nellie Roberts gx and Odontoglossum Opheron gx ‘Nelly Roberts’. The collection is a fitting tribute to a painter who faithfully applied her watercolour brush to use myriad colours to create timeless beauty.

The pieces involve complex colour combinations and intricate and delicate tubelining work (where each design is outlined in liquid clay) which requires phenomenal manual dexterity and many layers of careful glaze application by Moorcroft artists to ensure that the richness of each design does justice to Nelly’s work.

The method of creating each piece made by Moorcroft originated with William Moorcroft in 1897 and is almost exactly the same today. Supported by designs from the world-famous Moorcroft Design Studio and the skills of a dedicated workforce of artists, craftsmen and craftswomen, Moorcroft pottery sells all over the world.

Moorcroft and the RHS have collaborated a number of times in recent years, notably through the RHS Rose Bouquet Collection, the RHS Beatrix Stanley Collection, Chelsea’s Choice, (a vase celebrating the extraordinary snow-white hydrangea that was awarded RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2018), the 2020 RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year collection and the 2021 Fiori Bottan Collection inspired by a collection of 45 original watercolours from the RHS Lindley Collections.

Catherine Gage, PR Director, Moorcroft, says: “We are thankful to have had the opportunity to take advantage of the RHS’s unrivalled orchid expertise and are very happy that For The Love Of Orchids can bring the sheer joy of Nelly Roberts’ work to a worldwide audience. Working with the RHS and journeying into the exotic world of orchids through the eyes of one of their finest illustrators has been a rich and rewarding experience.”

Cathy Snow, Licensing Manager, RHS, adds: “I am both delighted and entranced by this new collection which celebrates the extraordinary achievements of the very first RHS orchid artist. In the year that marks the 150th anniversary of her birth it’s hard to think of a better tribute to the genius of Nelly Roberts than this exquisite collection of handmade art pottery inspired by some of her finest work.”

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