Back in January my friend Leigh Chappell rang me with an idea. She had recently designed two stunning floral arrangements for the opening of ‘The Lost Treasures’ exhibition at Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham. David Attenborough is one of the patrons and during his inspiring opening speech all Leigh could think about was ‘thank goodness I didn’t use floral foam”. With this in mind, a festival to showcase sustainable floral designs using seasonal British flowers to reflect Horace Walpole’s ideas on design, colour and visual impact was formed. Together with Claire from Honeysuckle and Hilda and the amazing team at the house we set about creating a flower festival to showcase floral designers from around the country who create beautiful arrangements with no foam or single use plastic involved.
Strawberry Hill House is the ‘little’ gothic castle and gardens once owned by Horace Walpole. It is a real undiscovered gem all white and fairytale-esque with its turrets on the outside and and a warren of jewel coloured, opulent rooms on the inside. Each one unique and individual in character which was perfect for the premise of the flower festival.
The Tribune room is one of the most beautiful in the house and it looked incredible flooded with natural light shining down on Brigitte’s stunning large scale urn.
The exhibition was all about British flowers, but artists, artisan growers and textile designers were involved too. We all had the sustainable floristry message at the heart. Natural, seasonal flowers which are so abundant at this time of year.
I adore the colours that Sarah designed in the purple Holbein Chamber. A living garden with drifts of warm pinks, mauves and purples of mid summer in england and an urn arrangement filled with Strawberry hill roses.
The library is magnificent and I loved what Jules from Wild and Co and Louise Louise Langdon created in here. The stained glass reflecting on the floor was magical.
Fiona from Firenza flowers designed the staircase using flowers from her Yorkshire garden. A romantic scented pathway of entwined peonies, roses, foxgloves, poppies and ammi leading up to the top floor. Very romantic and completely enchanting. Created with stems in carefully placed glass vases of water.
The prettiest urn arrangement in the hallway entrance to the festival by Fiona Pickles.
Strawberry Hill House has so many hidden alcoves and corners and I love the romantic tangle of sweet peas and roses designed by Claire for two of them.
Each block of floral foam is made up of plastic, not to mention toxic chemicals. It’s non biodegradable and goes in to landfill. If not disposed of properly it can pollute our waterways. Invented in the fifties, it has become the norm to use it within the floral industry, but this wasn’t always the case. We wanted to show that using traditional methods with chicken wire and simple vessels of water it is possible to create beauty without harming the environment. All the urns were lined with buckets and pots, filled with a scrunched ball of chicken wire to hold stems in place.
I love the woodland inspired design using foxgloves, ammi majus, larkspur and corncockle by Leigh using flowers from Wolves Lane and lots of foraged foliage. Framing the stained glass window in the Star Chamber it was such a beautiful interpretation of the room. Simply using buckets of water and potted plants that can then be replanted in the garden it is possible to create large installations.
My friend Kim from Pig Pen flowers and I chose the blue bed chamber and opted to fill it with swathes of Ammi Majus from her plot dotted with orange geum and blue cornflowers to match the bed canopy.
A pretty and enchanting display from floral designer Hannah with Yorkshire grown peonies and foliage. I loved the overgrown effect and how the roses creep through the door like some overgrown secret garden.
I adore the dogwood creeping out of this arrangement from Holly Bee. It looks so striking against the red.
In the same opulent room was this beautiful display strewn with scented foliage and roses from the real flower company.
The tiniest room in the house, the Beauclerk closet with stunning windows and the prettiest shade of blue wallpaper was reimagined with two gorgeous displays.
These are just some of the incredible displays on show for the four day flower festival. All our floral friends gave so much time and energy to create something so special that wowed so many visitors. Here’s to the next one xx