Flowers in the Gothic

By Jo Phillips

One Gothic castle one flower show, the opposites attract. Celebrating its 5th edition, the Strawberry Hill House Flower Festival will return to Horace Walpole’s groundbreaking Gothic castle this autumn, here to challenge our perceptions of floristry. Find out more in Flowers in the Gothic here.

Curators Leigh Chappell and Janne Ford have commissioned over thirty leading UK-based floral designers and growers to take over and respond to the spectacular interior of Walpole’s stunning Georgian home.

The event will also act as a major showcase for a number of up-and-coming designers who are sure to dazzle with their limitless creativity. Visitors can expect to be amazed at the sheer variety of ways each of them works with British-grown seasonal flowers and foliage, sharing their artistry, expertise, and passion for sustainable foam-free floral design.

Also making a hugely welcome return are renowned Hampshire growers Hortus Poeticus, who will transform the stairwell with exceptional English flowers that will fill the space with their remarkable scent and beauty. The Petersfield firm uses homemade compost and compost teas to produce a wide variety of seasonal flowers and shrubs. They are also passionate about challenging the dubious ethical and environmental footprint of the many flowers we buy.

Industry stars, such as Henck Rolling, and the exciting Sophie Powell from Unidentified Floral Object will form part of the stellar line-up appearing at Strawberry Hill House over the Festival’s three days.

Powell will create an immersive piece in the form of a floral headdress that will also provide festivalgoers with a unique photo opportunity, in which they can either stand or sit underneath, so appearing as if they have donned a magnificent hat.

Chappell and Ford are also delighted to announce that the popular curator tours, talks and demonstrations will again be key features of the festival.

Strawberry Hill’s own gardening team will also be on hand to give expert advice relating to horticultural hiccups; from reluctant rhododendrons to drooping dahlias and glean advice on how to grow gorgeous geraniums or impressive Italian Asters.   

The Flower Festival celebrates the beauty, variety, and versatility of British flowers with florists and designers creating a series of breathtaking displays using flowers, foliage, dried and natural elements. All the exhibitors have sustainability at the heart of their craft and will demonstrate just what can be achieved using traditional and contemporary techniques. Some grow their own flowers and others focus on working with local flower farmers and high street businesses”.

Claire Leighton from Strawberry Hill House

Visitors to the Flower Festival are also invited to wander around the five acres of gardens, which comprise beds, borders, walks, groves, lawns and woodland. Horace Walpole was a keen gardener himself, writing the hugely influential essay The History of the Modern Taste in Gardening which was first published in 1780.

The grounds have been faithfully restored to much of their original appearance by using Eighteenth Century maps and paintings, as well as Walpole’s own writing. Today it is Grade II* listed and of national importance, as a reminder of a fascinating period in garden history.

The participating florists and growers will also be sharing blogs, tips, photographs and other content across social media, leading up to and during the festival, using the hashtag: #StrawberryFlowerFestival

Tickets for the Flower Festival are available online now. Prices, tour and talk times can be found at  22-24 September

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