The latest trends in floral design will take centre stage at Castle Howard’s Flower Festival starting today, with award-winning designer Fiona Pickles taking the mantle of creative director, and promising a quintessentially British explosion of flowers and foliage, with extra ‘green’ credentials.

For Castle Howard’s fifth annual festival, visitors will rediscover forgotten British flora, 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.

Fiona explains:

“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.

“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.”

Fiona will be working closely with Castle Howard’s own gardens team to source foliage, twigs and sculptural aspects for arrangements in every room, corridor and public space in the house, but has a unique plan to work with her network of artisan flower growers and arrangers around the country to deliver her ambitious plan.

“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 – a superbly sustainable approach – and arrive with blooms and enthusiasm ready to pitch in.”

Alongside the installations in the House, the festival will include a series of talks, demonstrations and workshops from local professional growers and arrangers, with a focus on English grown flowers and tips for visitors to grow their own cutting garden. Caroline Beck at Verde Flowers will highlight the importance of buying British as part of her ‘Grown Not Flown’ talk, alongside Jonathon Moseley’s talk as UK Ambassador for British Flowers. Katie Kearns from Flower Show Presents will be hosting informative and fun headdress and arrangement workshops and visitors can see Fiona Pickles herself delivering daily demonstrations.

The Flower Festival: An English Country Garden will take place from Thursday 28th June to Sunday 1st July and is included within standard admission.

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