All photos by Stuart Martin Photography. 

City flower show set to launch with a theme of reflection and triggered memories in the garden.

The Winchester Cathedral Festival of Flowers is bringing `Resonance` to the city by way of thousands of flowers.

Pip Bensley, Festival of Flowers creative director with more than 30 years’ experience said: “This has been a two-year process, the oddest preparation I’ve ever done. Because of the pandemic we couldn’t meet, it’s been so uncertain. We only found out in June we had the go ahead.”

The festival launches today (Wednesday September 14) at 6.30pm and visitors will be submerged into an interactive floral scene brought to you by more than 400 volunteers and designers.

Visitors will be asked to place a montbretia along their journey through the cathedral as a way of becoming part of the scene.

Designer Debbie wadge and the team from the Hamble-le-Rice Flower Club have designed a sound display accompanied by a floral arrangement where voices and sentences of the pandemic in whispers will be heard throughout the crypt.

This year’s team of artists have faced new challenges as designers have moved to an environmentally friendly production by swapping floral foam for Agra-Wool under a new sponsorship.

Janice Viveash of Lymington Floral Club explained how husbands of the club had become involved in the process to help fix sheets of birch to the base of their display and how they needed to find a way to use copper tubing to hold the wood instead of the ease of using foam.

Pip Bensley, creative director said: “When we talked about it, normally we use vast amounts of foam which is not good, but we’ll try. We’ve had to be creative, use more traditional things like wires. We have been sponsored, it may be slightly more expensive but things can be re-used now.

“We’ve been re-learning old techniques through workshops and books.

“This is the first big festival to do it, I hope there’s no more foam ever.”

At the show you can see various ways displays have been created using recycled or re-usable items from shoes bought in charity shops to books commemorating author Jane Austin.

As well as the usual times to visit, the cathedral has committed to being inclusive for all needs. Mornings will be available for those with sensory needs and special sessions for blue light members in the evenings.

Dean of Winchester, Reverend Catherin Ogle said: “We wanted to make the cathedral as open as possible to as wide a range of people as possible.

“This is the first really big event since Covid. Yesterday was extraordinary, a little army of volunteers came from across the country, they’ve been preparing for months, it was such a buzz. There’s such a contrast, I love the brightly coloured ones. So bright and reflective, it takes you to a different emotion. We’ve really learned over the last 18 months the significance of nature.”