Seasonal flowers for the Coronation
Sustainably-grown, scented, spring flowers are set to decorate the Quire and the Grave of the Unknown Warrior of Westminster Abbey for the coronation ceremony, a gift to Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla from Flowers from the Farm.
For the past few months, we’ve been working closely with floral designer Shane Connolly to bring the beauty, joy and variety of seasonal UK-grown blooms to this historic occasion. More than eighty flower farmers representing all four nations of the UK from Inverness and Norfolk to Snowdonia, Cornwall and Tobermore in Northern Ireland have cut over 120 different varieties of spring-flowering bulbs, perennials, blossom and foliage for the celebrations.
The flowers have been grown in harmony with the natural seasons, outdoors and in polytunnels on flower fields, allotments, cutting gardens and walled gardens. Since every plot has its unique growing and weather conditions, the displays in Westminster Abbey of more than 4500 stems will reveal a unique floral tapestry of springtime in the UK.
Nestled amongst the arrangements will be hellebores and hazel harvested on a croft on the Isle of Skye, apple blossom, Solomon’s Seal and euphorbia from Perthshire, crab apple from Aberdeenshire and aquilegia and honesty from the fields of Yorkshire.
There will be lilacs and wallflowers from Tobermore in Northern Ireland, ranunculus, narcissus ‘Pheasant Eye’, lily of the valley, clematis, forget-me-nots and bluebells from Somerset and historic tulips from Wiltshire.
Growers in Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia have selected tulips, ranunculus and azaleas for the historic occasion, and trailing stems of scented honeysuckle have been cut in Buckinghamshire and fragrant jasmine in Lincolnshire. Branches of ornamental cherry have come from Norfolk and scabious, broom and snowflakes in Cornwall.
Shane Connolly says:
“The honour of being asked to design and coordinate the flowers for the coronation of Their Majesties the King and Queen, is the highlight of my career. But I wanted the flowers to be centre stage, not the design. They had to reflect the sentiment of the day, and be from the soil of the United Kingdom; a natural tribute to a nature-loving King and Queen. Flowers from the Farm and the RHS have made that idea possible; they’re growers working in harmony with the soil and the seasons, to produce flowers that reflect the very best of British gardening and flower growing. The enthusiasm and dedication of each and every flower farmer and gardener has been humbling; working together to bring the simple beauty of nature into Westminster Abbey, as our gift to the new King and Queen.”
In preparation for the event, Flowers from the Farm members teamed up to relay buckets of freshly cut flowers and foliage to local collection hubs manned by volunteers. From the hubs, the flowers travelled to the Gloucestershire flower farm of Jo Wright and Wendy Paul, Co-Chairs of Flowers from the Farm. Here, the flowers were sorted and prepared for their journey to Westminster Abbey where they were arranged by Shane and his team.
Jo Wright, Flowers from the Farm Co-Chair, says:
“We are delighted and honoured to be involved in this historic event, which places British flowers and small-scale growers centre stage. it has been a pleasure collaborating with Shane Connolly on the design and with Flowers from the Farm members from all corners of the UK to showcase the beauty and rich diversity of this season’s crops.”
The Coronation marks a landmark moment for the global flower farming movement. It demonstrates that local, seasonal flowers deserve to be seen at state occasions just as much as they do in bridal bouquets, funeral tributes or vases in the home.
Gill Hodgson, founder and now Honorary President of Flowers from the Farm says:
“It feels as though flower farming has come of age and I could not be prouder of Flowers from the Farm. A decade ago, we were told that our flowers were just for bunting and jam jars, so to see them in Westminster Abbey designed by Shane Connolly, an internationally acclaimed floral designer, will be a very special moment. We have spent weeks planning and imagining our flowers in the very formal historic setting. It is incredible to think that the flowers that were just a few days ago growing in my field in Yorkshire are now going to be on display to the world in a building of national importance on such a momentous occasion.”
Following the celebrations, the flowers will be repurposed by the charity, Floral Angels, and gifted to hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters in London.