The six dramatic representations of flowers from Dr Thornton's famous publication of the early nineteenth century provide a fitting tribute to Lady Hayward's love of flowers and art. Today, many of the plants depicted are commonplace, but nearly two hundred years ago they were rare and exotic. Thornton's aim had been to capture the wonders of botany using the arts of painting and engraving. Nothing like it had been attempted in England, and no expense was spared on these magnificent works. The paintings were commissioned from popular botanic artists of the day (Peter Henderson, Philip Reinagle, Abraham Perher and Sydenham Edwards).
Only the most capable engravers, including Earlom, Ward, Sutherland, Dunkerton and Stadler were commissioned to produce the plates in a mixture of aquatint, mezzotint and line engraving, partially printed in colours and partially coloured by hand.
Thornton was financially ruined by his self-imposed quality standards which dictated an attention to detail and search for perfection unheard of before or since. These prints remain a melodramatically magnificent attempt to elevate the art of botanical illustration for equal consideration with the works of other creators of the romantic era such as Byron, Shelley and Blake.