It is not surprising that the philologist Simon-Jude Honnorat (1783-1852) would know and show an interest in the local plant names, for he was a tireless collector of the plants themselves, creating as comprehensive an herbarium of regional species as has ever existed. His herbarium is thought to have contained thousands of specimens. Many of these were collected in the heavily wooded mountainous area of Faillefeu, in the hills above the upper valley of the river Bléone, and he presented a special two-volume herbarium to the landowner of the area who had facilitated his botanising there. This was a stroke of good fortune, for Honnorat's entire collections of geological and botanical specimens were thrown away, unwanted and unsaleable, when his son, who worked in textiles in Flanders, came, after his father's death, to clear out the doctor's house in Digne. These two beautiful volumes of c.1804, almost all that remains of Honnorat's botanic collections, are the centrepiece of the cabinet, occupying a glass case in the middle of the room, with each week a new page turned.
At de vries's request, the floor of the narrow oblong room is made of local early nineteenth-century tiles, discovered recently when repairs were undertaken in the museum, and the walls are panelled to dado height with walnut, the wood used locally over centuries in the manufacture of vernacular furniture. Above this, on the two longer walls, there are arranged 111 of de vries's own botanical 'real works' of various dimensions, framed in walnut, and in free configurations that deliberately deny the paradigmatic ordering of nineteenth-century museum presentations. This informal array is of specimens collected by herman and susanne in the woods and valleys of Faillefeu,
with Honnorat in mind. They are plant self-portraits, each plant 'saying itself', each at once a document, and an image, of itself: nature has become art and their irregular configuration signals their status as distinct from that of the scientifically systematic herbarium of which the two volumes in the room were a part.
The installation is perfectly completed by a contemporary portrait of Dr. Honnorat brought into the light after long exile in the museum storerooms. He is pictured, gravely handsome, seated at his work table, quill pen in hand, working on the introduction to his Dictionnaire Provençal-Français. Behind him on a shelf, as attributes, are piled three stout volumes: Linnaeus,
 Hippocrates and Jean de La Fontaine. Each is emblematic of some aspect of the doctor's activities, the scientific, the medical and the literary-folkloric. It is a portrait of a many-sided man. The ensemble, thus completed, implicitly celebrates not only the natural history of the region, but also the language of the pays, and the tragically lost achievement of Honnorat himself. In the cabinet, de vries reminds us of the inescapable nexus of historical, cultural and linguistic circumstance, and of their diverse and particular interactions in the mediations of nature through science and art. In honouring Dr Honnorat, de vries, as an artist, honours the engagement of disinterested science with the natural world and its objects.
[Passage from Mel Gooding, herman de vries. chance and change (Thames & Hudson : London 2006) 117-118]