Strawberry Hill House, a Georgian Gothic Revival masterpiece nestled in Twickenham, south-west London, is renowned for its annual Strawberry Hill Flower Festival. Leigh Chappell, a botanical illustrator turned florist and floral photographer Janne Ford, curates this spectacle. The festival has evolved significantly since its inception five years ago, reflecting the dynamic shifts in contemporary floristry.

The festival transforms the ‘little Gothic castle’ once a year into a botanical wonderland. The rooms burst with garlands of bracken, cascades of flowers and berries sourced from local hedgerows and gardens, and vibrant displays of British-grown dahlias. Exhibitors are encouraged to use only sustainably produced, British-grown flowers to create their installations, aligning with the festival’s commitment to promoting sustainable floristry.


In 2018, an exhibition titled “Lost Treasures” provided the impetus for the Strawberry Hill Flower Festival. Over 150 items from Walpole’s collection were painstakingly reassembled for the first time since 1842. Chappell was commissioned to create the floral arrangements for the opening night. Conscious of the event’s high-profile guest, David Attenborough, she opted for organically grown British flowers and eschewed the use of plastics or unsustainable floral foam.

The success of this event sparked a conversation between Chappell and Claire Leighton, the community development manager of the house, about potential ways to attract visitors and generate income. The idea of a festival centred on British flowers and sustainability was thus born. They sought the assistance of Flowers from the Farm, a not-for-profit organisation championing independent ethical growers.

Each year, over 30 growers and florists participate in the festival. They are driven more by the festival’s ethos than by the modest £100 stipend they receive. Installations range from experimental to bucolic, created using cardboard or chicken wire. The only waste generated by the event is a beautiful mound of compost.


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), reports that homegrown flowers constituted 40 per cent of all flowers consumed in Britain in 1988, which has since dwindled to 14 per cent. Ford believes that supermarkets have distorted our perception of flowers, making it crucial to change not just price perceptions but also the desirability of mass-produced flowers.

Consumer demands are driving this change. Ford asserts that luxury is no longer about extravagant displays of roses but appreciating the care and individuality inherent in a seed planted and nurtured to bloom. The environmental impact of imported supermarket flowers, laden with air miles and chemicals, is prompting brides and event planners to opt for organically grown stems and natural-looking arrangements.


At Strawberry Hill House, Chappell navigates the rooms, sharing her excitement about the upcoming installations. She highlights the challenges of staging the festival in such a fragile environment, where fresh flowers can alter humidity levels and potentially damage art and artefacts. Despite these hurdles, Chappell believes it’s all worthwhile when she hears visitors express their awe at the beauty and diversity of the elaborate floral displays.

For those interested in experiencing this celebration of sustainable floristry, remember that you can send flowers as a gift or arrange for flower delivery in London through various services. Whether you prefer flowers by post or next-day delivery flowers, there are many ways to share the beauty of British-grown, sustainably produced flowers with your loved ones.

Leigh Chappell, and Janne Ford have created an environment that nurtures and reflects the dynamic shift in contemporary modern floristry.