Quintessentially British display for festival

A QUINTESSENTIALLY British 'explosion of flowers and foliage' will take centre stage at Castle Howard next month, for its fifth annual flower festival.

Award-winning designer Fiona Pickles at Castle Howard.
Award-winning designer Fiona Pickles at Castle Howard.

Forgotten British flora will come to the fore, with a focus on less well-known but equally appealing flowers that have been grown in this country for hundreds of years, bringing the natural beauty of the Howardian Hills right into the house itself. There will also be an “eco-friendly twist” to this year’s displays, that have been co-ordinated by award-winning designer Fiona Pickles.

“There is an enormous focus from within the restaurant sectors about sourcing ingredients locally so you are eating food prepared ethically and minimising unnecessary food transportation, but when you look at many floral displays, we are doing the exact opposite – insisting on mass-grown imported gerberas and only accepting perfect blooms,” she said. “We often overlook traditional, British seasonal flowers and foliage in this unnatural pursuit of perfection, and miss the natural beauty of flowers, wonky stems and all.”

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Ms Pickles will be working closely with Castle Howard’s own gardens team to source foliage, twigs and sculptural aspects for arrangements, but will also work with her network of artisan flower growers and arrangers around the country.

She said: “For this concept to work, we can’t simply go to flower markets to source these native varieties, but when I’ve reached out to flower growers and florists around the country who specialise in this natural approach, over 50 people have come forward with offers of help. They will collect the unusual flowers from the artisan growers along the way.”

The Flower Festival: An English Country Garden takes place from Thursday June 28 to Sunday July 1.