Saturday, 15 June 2013

A cathedral full of flowers!

"Wildflower meadow" in Winchester Cathedral

Flower drum - ready to play!
I went to Winchester cathedral’s festival of flowers today and really enjoyed the enormously diverse mix of flowers on show. Walking through the main entrance you were instantly hit by the aroma of sweet smelling blooms, with scent wafting from strident, strong coloured “firework” like displays, through to the more typically restrained English country garden arrangements, with their calming, gentle pastel colours.
Some displays were extremely clever, such as those inspired by Timpani or kettle drums containing a plethora of brightly coloured flowers in a concave fashion, with two large “Pom-pom” headed Allium drumsticks lying casually on top, inviting someone to play them!
Pleasingly, right in the centre of the cathedral had been created a “wildflower meadow”, unfortunately not using native wildflowers, but nevertheless reminding us all how nature can quite happily compete with the best of our cultivated floral displays.
As I wandered slowly around the different displays, I couldn’t help eavesdropping on some of the conversations taking place in rather hushed tones. Before long, it became apparent to me just how deeply people love flowers and how certain plants conjure up distant memories and bring forth little stories. Just one example of many overheard snippets came from a mother and her teenage daughter who on seeing a tumbling display of white “Avalanche” roses remarked, “Oh, doesn’t that remind you of granny’s walled garden! How funny it was that she always invited us all to tea every June without fail, because she wanted us to admire her roses!” The mother then added “White roses were always her favourite - she had them in her wedding bouquet and on her coffin”. Then after a pause “wouldn’t she have loved this festival”.
The natural world is perhaps more significant to all of us than we realise and flowers in particular I think, are an important symbolic link to our past. Although technological gadgets appear to engage most people’s attention nowadays, in evolutionary terms this is a very, very recent occurrence and I believe that for most, a strong connection with the environment still lies just beneath the surface.         

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