Over 50,000 flowers in rich colours and sweet perfumes were arranged in Chichester Cathedral over the weekend for the bi-annual Festival of Flowers.
More than 15,000 visitors from across the country travelled to Chichester to witness 80 flower arrangements created by over 240 flower arrangers expressing the theme of this year’s festival – “This Earthly Paradise”.
The theme incorporates plant hunting, botany, horticulture and conservation, and will celebrate plants from across the globe, looking at how they have shaped continents and continue to inspire today’s gardeners and explorers.
The patron for the 2018 Festival is Emma Bridgewater, British designer and businesswoman, whose distinctive ceramics have a world-wide following. Emma was delighted to be supporting the Festival of Flowers. She said: “I feel a keen sense of anticipation already for that moment when you step into Chichester Cathedral to find it mystically transformed with the scent, colour and beauty of 50,000 flowers.”
To celebrate Emma’s support, a souvenir special edition Emma Bridgewater Chichester Cathedral mug was on sale at the festival fair.
The Festival of Flowers also showcased several ‘firsts’. This year brought a new – never seen before – tea rose, ‘Nostalgia’, which was specially designed and grown for this year’s event. The rose is highly perfumed with creamy blooms that are uniquely edged with cherry red. ‘Nostalgia’ is the creation of accomplished local growers Jonathan and Elizabeth Sawday, from Apuldram Roses.
The festival also launched nine brand new gerberas – gerberas are considered to be classics among ornamental flowers and these new gerberas have been grown by the internationally known Dutch firm, Holstein Flowers.
The cathedral’s Ruth Poyner, head of communications, marketing and visitors services, said: “Over the years, the Festival of Flowers has raised much needed funds towards the essential restoration of the cathedral.
“All funds raised this year will support the re-covering of the cathedral’s unique medieval roof, a major project estimated at £5.8 million. So we are incredibly grateful to the thousands of people that have come to experience this wonderful festival.
“Without doubt, they are helping to conserve this building for future generations.”
Charles and Sandra Clarke, from Bedfordshire, came just for the festival after a leisure group they go to had told them about it.
Mrs Clarke said: “We have never been to Sussex before. It’s beautiful here. The flowers are spectacular. All the different colours and flowers – It’s so lovely.”
Mr Clarke added: “There are places you go to which you tell your friends about. This festival and Chichester is one of those places. We would love to come back to the cathedral after the Festival of Flowers has finished.
“It is a lovely building and it is good they have kept it this way. Our garden at home is maintenance-free, we like flowers but this is like art. Seeing the amount of work which has gone in is amazing.”
Patricia Booth and Ailsa Clarke, from Hellingly, came with two other friends for the event for the third time.
Ailsa said: “Every year this festival gets better. It just takes my breath away at how they do it all, they must plan years ahead to get it like this.”
Patricia added: “I do flower arranging in my local church so while I am here I will try and get some ideas. I would definitely recommend other people to come here, too. It is so colourful and the money raised is going towards the roof which is really worthwhile.”