I think the saying is “April showers bring May flowers” or something like that. Even though when it comes to the British Isles I think the rainy period lasts more than a month, it’s more like all year. Anyway, the Marianne North Gallery of Botanic Art in Kew Gardens has been open since 1882 and is the only permanent solo exhibition by a female artist in Britain. In case you hadn’t already figured it out, Marianne North is the name of an artist and not related to the direction or location of the gallery. Marianne devoted her life to travelling the world and painting plants. After exhibiting her paintings in a London gallery in 1879, she had the idea of showing them at Kew. Her father was an MP, so she had the money and political connections to make this happen. She built her own gallery and spent a year arranging her work, a total of 833 paintings depicting more than 900 plant species. Even though they’ve been recently restored, the paintings remain exactly as Marianne arranged them, close together in a colourful collage according to geographic location. They’re even hanging in the space of the doorways between rooms! Anyway, back to Marianne’s travels…she sounded like my kind of woman, completely ahead of her time. She preferred to travel alone, choosing huts or locals’ homes over fancy hotels. She thought marriage was “a terrible experiment” and religion was “mumbo jumbo,” which means she would’ve hated Facebook. I think I’m in love.