Castle Howard 2018

castle howard flower festival 2018

 Image Charlotte Graham

Image Charlotte Graham

The Castle Howard Flower Festival 2018 was designed and directed by Fiona.

Location for the 2008 Brideshead Revisited film and 1981 mini series, Castle Howard is a stunning stately home in North Yorkshire in the UK.

 Image Fiona Pickles

Image Fiona Pickles

Drawing inspiration from details within each room, public space or grounds of the Castle, Fiona designed a total of 31 different designs, all made entirely from British flowers, many grown locally, some from much further afield and all foliages were cut from the Castle Howard Estate. Every design was free of floral foam and created with other, more environmentally friendly techniques..

Brief - bring the wild outdoors inside the House

 Image Hannah Straughan

Image Hannah Straughan

The staircase was the first the visitors saw of the new style flower festival.

The design was deliberately thought provoking, instead of an ‘expected’ grand, floral display, Fiona wanted to do something more unexpected and surprising:

‘We are very used to seeing grand staircases adorned with huge, dramatic floral displays, rose and hydrangeas in abundance etc, so from day one I always knew I wanted something very different and with the brief being ‘bring the outside in’, I wanted to bring a small part of the grass meadows round the Castle inside somehow. I was doing a lot of travelling earlier in the year and was struck by the utter beauty of the verges along the motorways, made up of masses of swaying grasses with occasional daisies through. When it came to designing for the staircase, I didn’t want it to be packed with lots of colourful flowers, I wanted it to be a true representation so restraint was the key! We used masses of grass and occasional corncockles through and every blade of grass was cut from the estate with scissors!’

 Image Hannah Straughan

Image Hannah Straughan

 Image Hannah Straughan

Image Hannah Straughan

Fiery foliages and flowers exploded out from the massive fireplace in The Great Hall.

 Image Charlotte Graham

Image Charlotte Graham

Delicate foliage and tumbling roses cascaded way above people’s heads, suggesting nature was starting to take over.

 Image Fiona Pickles

Image Fiona Pickles

 Image Anna Hearts Flowers

Image Anna Hearts Flowers

 Image Charlotte Graham

Image Charlotte Graham

The pink flowers featured in the Turquoise Drawing Room were inspired by the pinks of the clothes on the small statuettes (bottom right) and stood out perfectly against the heavily decorated turquoise room.

 Image Charlotte Graham

Image Charlotte Graham

The Antique Passage was built around the time that ferneries were all the rage, so Fiona incorporated ferns and overhead foliage down the entire length of this dramatic space.

 Image Anna Hearts Flowers

Image Anna Hearts Flowers

 Above and below images Janne Ford

Above and below images Janne Ford

 Urn of Summer flowers by Fiona Pickles - Image Hannah Straughan

Urn of Summer flowers by Fiona Pickles - Image Hannah Straughan

 Image Fiona Pickles

Image Fiona Pickles

Probably the most spectacular and single most talked-about piece was The Cloud in the Long Gallery (here framed by simple yet dramatic designs of cloudy white flowers as a prelude to The Cloud itself)

 Image Hannah Straughan

Image Hannah Straughan

Made up entirely of limonium or sea lavender, this design caused Fiona to entirely re-think the rest of the plan for this space the day before the festival opened to the public, to allow this work of art to stand out and shine.

Fiona’s designs took inspiration from the room each appeared in, from the fluffy pampas grasses echoing the feathers on Lady Georgiana’s bed canopy, to the delicate representation of musical notes in the Music Room, by the considered placing of single, dramatically bent stems full of movement and subtle, scented drama.

The bedrooms and dressing rooms had delicate and considered urns of flowers, as if the occupants had just picked them and placed them by their bed. The details in the wallpaper paintings were used to inform the colours, size and design.

 Image Janne Ford

Image Janne Ford

 Image Anna Hearts Flowers

Image Anna Hearts Flowers

In the Garden Room a gazebo was erected and filled with a huge array of scented, summer flowers including some spectacular roses provided by The Real Flower Company and many, many other growers of British flowers.

 Image Anna Hearts Flowers

Image Anna Hearts Flowers

 Image Janne Ford

Image Janne Ford

 Image Janne Ford

Image Janne Ford

 Image Charlotte Graham

Image Charlotte Graham

This was a four day flower festival on what was then, the hottest weekend of the year, so was a huge challenge! A total of 72 florists and flower growers were involved across the five days of set up and the four days of the festival itself.

The flower festival featured heavily in national and local press, including The Telegraph, The Times, The Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Life,The York Press, The Northern Echo, Minster FM, BBC Look North and the entire breakfast show on BBC Radio York was aired from Castle Howard on the first day of the festival.

Take a look at #chflowerfest18 on Instagram for more images

All designs were made without floral foam, which is effectively a single use plastic and, as in all other areas of life, Fiona is very keen to minimise the use of it as much as possible and is constantly devising different mechanics and techniques to use as an alternative. Foam does not degrade and just ends up in land fill and the small bits of foam that break off whilst soaking it, end up in the sea if tipped down our sinks/drains to be ingested by fish and other marine life. Fiona teaches foam-free classes to other florists wishing to reduce their dependance on this floristry ‘staple’.

Images throughout this page are courtesy of Charlotte Graham, Janne Ford, Hannah Straughan, Anna Hearts Flowers and Anna Bell

For advance information on any upcoming events and classes, sign up for the newsletter. To enquire about Fiona’s availability for potential future events contact her here

 Image Charlotte Graham

Image Charlotte Graham