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Festival of Flowers at Leeds Castle

PUBLISHED: 15:11 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:23 21 November 2016

Whimsical Woodlands and Whipped Cream by Dennis Kneepkens (pics by Matthew Walker)

Whimsical Woodlands and Whipped Cream by Dennis Kneepkens (pics by Matthew Walker)

www.matthewwalkerphotography.com

Almost 7,000 visitors descended upon 900-year-old Leeds Castle for the annual Festival of Flowers

Parfum d'une Reine by Teresa MarieParfum d'une Reine by Teresa Marie

Almost 7,000 visitors descended upon 900-year-old Leeds Castle for the annual Festival of Flowers to view its state rooms adorned with beautiful floral creations on the theme of A Queen’s Castle. Often referred to as the ‘ladies’ castle’, Leeds Castle is famed for being owned by six medieval queens.

It is the legacy of these influential Royal women that inspired designs by international award-winning floral designers – from Dutch Master Hans Haverkamp’s Bridal Bouquet to Neil Whittaker’s Rich Royal Colours and Dennis Kneepkens Whimsical Woodlands & Whipped Cream. The official opening was hosted by English garden designer and TV personality Joe Swift, who gave a talk on 30 years of Garden Design following an afternoon of demonstrations and talks on the themes of botanical beauties, fun and funky flowers and flower arrangement techniques.

Joe was later joined by guests and friends of Leeds Castle, including TV presenter Jan Leeming, Helen Grant MP, Lady Monkton, Sir Bob and Lady Worcester, Amanda Cottrell OBE and Sandra Matthews March from Visit Kent, Jane Streatfield from the National Garden Scheme and gardening experts including Steven Edney, head gardener at The Salutation, Jo Thompson, landscape garden designer and landscape architect Marian Boswall. Speaking at the evening reception, Leeds Castle chief executive Sir David Steel said: “Leeds Castle has a long tradition of arranging floral displays. In 1901 the first ever flower festival was hosted here, making for the then owners a whole £25 on ticket sales!

In the 1930s the last private owner, Lady Olive Baillie, who hosted society house parties attended by stars such as David Niven, Errol Flynn, Prince Edward and Wallace Simpson, was famous for her elaborate floral displays and passion for cut flowers. “Every year the Festival of Flowers just gets better and better. We are indebted to the creative talents of each of the 28 floral designers, to South East Flowers, our official flower supplier for more than 20 years and Louise Roots, head florist, and her immensely talented team for overseeing the transformation of the Castle for this five-day event.” Louise was presented with the Winner’s Trophy by Joe Swift for her magnificent Royal Banquet flowing exuberantly across the dining table in the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall. Lady Baillie, who adored flowers, would have approved.

Jewels in the Crown by Jill SmithJewels in the Crown by Jill Smith

A Window into the World of a Queen by Hadlow CollegeA Window into the World of a Queen by Hadlow College

A Royal Flush by Sophie HillA Royal Flush by Sophie Hill

Festival of Flowers at-a-glance

20,000 stems of flowers and foliage

900 years of Castle history to inspire the creative designs

500 acres of grounds and formal gardens within the Estate

Whimsical Woodlands & Whipped Cream by Dennis KneepkensWhimsical Woodlands & Whipped Cream by Dennis Kneepkens

158 different types of flowers

50 different types of foliage

28 designers

10 days for the flowers to last to look as beautiful for the last person in the Castle as the first

A Royal Banquet by Louise Roots, Joe Swift's winning designA Royal Banquet by Louise Roots, Joe Swift's winning design

8 van loads of flowers to deliver

2 days to condition the flowers

Joe Swift by Dennis Kneepkens and Jan Leeming with Samantha Williams (far left) and Hannah Lawrence of Leeds CastleJoe Swift by Dennis Kneepkens and Jan Leeming with Samantha Williams (far left) and Hannah Lawrence of Leeds Castle

Joe Swift declares the Festival of Flowers openJoe Swift declares the Festival of Flowers open

Louise Roots, head florist Leeds Castle, with her winner's trophyLouise Roots, head florist Leeds Castle, with her winner's trophy

Sandra Matthews Marsh, Bill Lash, deputy ceo Leeds Castle, Jonathan and Lucie NeameSandra Matthews Marsh, Bill Lash, deputy ceo Leeds Castle, Jonathan and Lucie Neame

Sarah Sturt, Jane Streatfeild and Viv Hunt, head gardener, Godinton HouseSarah Sturt, Jane Streatfeild and Viv Hunt, head gardener, Godinton House

Simone Weisbauer, Andrew McCoryn and Natalie Dix, Leeds Castle gardenersSimone Weisbauer, Andrew McCoryn and Natalie Dix, Leeds Castle gardeners

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