SPECTACULAR floral displays will fill every corner of Hereford Cathedral with colour, fragrance and wonder at the beginning of next month as a glorious Festival of Flowers is staged from Thursday, September 4 to Saturday, September 6.
It’s the first time in seven years that a flower festival has been held in the cathedral, and the event has been two years in the planning, as festival chairman Janet Griffiths explains. “The cathedral asked NAFAS if they would stage a flower festival as a fundraiser for the Perpetual Trust. We have a fairly small tight committee but if you look at all the people who have given time and effort, the number of people involved runs into the hundreds. Cathedral volunteers have been involved in all sorts of ways and as our branch of NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies) includes Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire as well as all the counties of South Wales, the number of people contributing runs into the hundreds.”
There will be approximately 150 displays, created by around 250 people: “Some are very big and need more than one person to create them,” says Janet.
The theme for this year’s festival, for which the design team comprises Elizabeth Graham, Katherine Kear and Pat Crane, is “The world turns ... and we turn with it”, a theme that embraces a commemoration of World War I. For this display, the broderers, who care for the vestments and other cathedral fabrics, have been making fabric poppies.
“It’s a showcase of skills and talents of the women and men (a lot of men) who do flower arranging - an opportunity to show off a little,” says Janet. “And the theme allows arrangers to include all things geographical, with some very exotic flowers making an appearance, the evolution of technology and man’s inhumanity to man.” There will also, she reveals, be a few surprises.
Up to 15,000 visitors are expected to visit the festival which will be opened formally by renowned historian and gardener Sir Roy Strong at a Gala Evening on Wednesday, September 3, when the Marches Military Wives Choir will also be performing.
“I am delighted to be opening the festival,” said Sir Roy. “Cathedrals are great places in which to celebrate the arts in all their various forms and flower arranging is one of them. Our flower arrangers will, I know, once again wave a magic wand transforming the interior of this great historic building.”
“Cathedral festivals are always great gatherings of friends and the last Hereford festival, hosted seven years ago, was renowned as much for its friendliness as for its wonderful designs. We are confident that we will be able to create an even more extraordinary display than 2007 and a wonderful welcome for all who visit.”
Janet, who was also involved in the 2007 festival, explains that a new element for this year is the involvement of children, with contributions from pupils at St Paul’s, Marden, Stretton Sugwas and Weobley schools, as well as from children who attend the Saturday Club at the hospice. “The children have all lost someone close and they have turned out the most amazing work,” says Janet. “It will be displayed in the Lady Arbour Cloister garden, free of charge for anyone to visit.”
In addition to the displays, there will be a programme of floral art demonstrations, trade stands, garden tours and public catering, all of which are accessible whether or not you visit the main festival, in and around the cathedral and Bishop’s Palace gardens.
The festival is supported by Claridge Nursing Homes, Chris Carter and Simon Donachie and Ellis Properties.
The festival will be open to the general public from Thursday, September 4 at 9.30 am until 5.30pm on Saturday, September 6. A limited number of tickets, priced at £35, are available for the Gala Opening. To purchase, call the Perpetual Trust office on 01432 374261.