Winchester Floral Design Society’s March meeting was special on two counts. 

The first was that it was hosted by Andrew Crowther-Walker as a celebration of his special birthday by booking his long-standing friend Stephen Crisp as the speaker and the second for Trish Spiers to present Rosamond Hall with the chairman’s badge as she took over from Trish, who had served two stints as chairman, one for four and 18 years. 

She also thanked the committee to be honoured with the presidency in its 72nd year, due to the death of Penny Neyroud.

Andrew then introduced Stephen, a designer and an RHS judge, who is the head gardener at the American Embassy Garden and also to the three and a half acre Ambassador’s Residence Garden in Grosvenor Square. 

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The Embassy Garden in Regents Park, is the next largest garden to Buckingham Palace, covering over twelve and a half acres. It is laid out with a sizeable area of woodland and also has formal floral beds, specialising in roses, a vegetable garden, providing for the kitchen at the embassy. 

There are wild flower meadows and several green houses, where they propagate material for both gardens. He is the designer to both the inside and outside of the properties and does all the innovative floral decorations himself, for the many functions, from afternoon teas to all the lunches, dinners and many receptions, including all the grand celebrations that the ambassadors host. 

Stephen has held the post for more than 30 years. He said he has worked for 17 ambassadors and about eight presidents and sees more than 6,000 visitors a year.