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October 15, 2023

Strawberry Hill Flower Festival

Part one: Shadow and Light

Three weeks after the UK’s ‘most sustainable’ flower festival, I’ve had a chance to catch up and edit my photos and absorb everything about those three flower filled days. This was the fifth festival and had all the buzz, excitement and floral inspiration of the previous four. There was the added bonus of being a complete sell out. Five years ago, my friend floral designer Leigh Chappell dreamt up the idea of a sustainable flower festival that would celebrate British flowers and invited me to be co-curator. Together with Claire Leighton of Strawberry Hill we have been organising the festival ever since.

Morning Light

I wonder whether Horace Walpole, the owner of Strawberry Hill was ever up in time to see the early morning light flooding in through the decorative stained glass windows. Maybe a maid lighting the fires at dawn would have basked in those magical rays that light up certain rooms when the sun shines.

The view of the Parlour at Strawberry Hill House
Fireplace by Pearl Watt at Millefleur, Window by Layla Robinson, Floor design by Joanna Game

When Walpole commisioned the most talented glass painters of the time to decorate the windows he must have known the effect it would have on these shadowy rooms. This year, the fireplace in the Great Parlour was created by Pearl Watt of Mille Fleur. I loved how the exquisite dried florals were shot through with a shard of blue from the window.

Fireplace in Parlour at Strawberry Hill House

The Parlour Window

The sun shining through the Parlour window at Strawberry Hill
Layla Robinson flower portal at strawberry hill house flower festival

Layla Robinson created this magical flower portal in the Parlour window. A dried floral design celebrating the beauty of dried flowers with her delicate and ethereal creation.

Dried flowers in the Great Parlour at Strawberry Hill House
Designer Joanna Game created a beautiful dried flower celebration of the Dartmoor wilderness

Blue Breakfast Room

The blue breakfast room at Strawberry Hill

Another light filled room that is always changing is the Blue Breakfast room. Again magical blue rays dance across the floor throughout the day. Kara Johnson with flower grower Lucy Philips collaborated to design “The Art of the Impossible’. The belief that dried flowers should be weightless and free spirited. Layers of dried dahlias were used to create a rich tapestry in a modern take of Breakfast.

The Staircase

Nowhere in the house does the shadow and light of Walpole’s gothic party house appear more apparent. From the shadowy ground floor, the light and airy upper level. This inspired flower growers and designers Hortus Poeticus to create a ferny glade at the base. A journey up the oak staircase takes you to the grassy sunlit meadowesque second floor.

Hallway and staircase at Strawberry Hill House
The ferny glade at the foot of the stairs by Hortus Poeticus
Through an arch doorway at Strawberry hill

There is so much more to share from this years flower festival in association with the wonderful Flowers from the Farm. A true celebration of British flowers and sustainable floral design. For now I will leave you with this wonderful video of the set up day and Private View filmed by Rob Dunlop of Pretty in White films and voiced over by the incredible Simon Lycett.

Leigh and I are already planning the next one so when I share part two I will have the dates for you! So much thanks goes to everyone who took part this year making it such an incredible festival. A truly collaborative event in the floral calender.

Janne x

Sustainable floristry

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