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Margaret Flockton

A Legacy. A Photo. A Mystery.

In March 2003, the breadcrumbs on the career path of Margaret Flockton sparked a detective hunt for missing pieces in the Gardens’ early scientific history. Hundreds of elegant botanical studies with splashes of watercolour inspired the Garden’s illustrators and botanists. But beyond her charming portrait, nothing was known of this mysterious illustrator, her life or career. However, on International Women’s Day in 2003, Margaret’s illustrative legacy was illuminated in the Joseph Maiden Theatre and carried out since.

A Dynamic Career

From 1901 to 1927, Margaret, a giant in the field of Australian botanical illustration, was Director J.H.Maiden’s right–hand woman. Maiden’s key works such as Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus, Forest Flora of NSW and his extensive treatment of the Opuntia genus beared witness to Margaret’s unsurpassed talent as a scientific illustrator and as Australia’s first female lithographer. Between working with enormous limestones, various botanical collections and a stream of commercial work outside the Gardens, Margaret brought a sincere passion to her dynamic and long career. 

Illustration Becomes Art

Flockton’s style is recognisable by her hallmark meticulous observation, flawless accuracy and a supremely elegant sleight of hand. Treasured in the Margaret Flockton Archive are the images that combine sensitive and perfect pencil drawings of a species, with fruits or floral details embellished in watercolour. Painted details burst with volume; in contrast the pencil line work is exquisite in its elegant simplicity.


Much has happened since the International Women’s Day presentation in 2003. Margaret Flockton’s name has branded a very successful annual international award for excellence in scientific botanical illustration, sponsored by the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens and curated by the Gardens current-day illustrators.

Margaret Flockton Biography

The many fans of botanical artist Margaret Flockton will be pleased to hear that the book on her life will be released in late 2016. Written by her great, great niece Louise Wilson, work on Margaret’s biography began more than twelve years ago, with its progress dependent on private trips to Sydney and London from Louise’s home in Melbourne.

With access to family memorabilia and family stories about her ‘Aunt Mog’, Louise is perfectly placed to unveil a clever, talented, shy and reclusive woman.

Margaret Flockton: A Fragrant Memory will be available at the Garden Shop from mid-November 2016.