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Coronation Triumph for UK-Grown Flowers

There were acres of floral speculation before the Coronation regarding what flowers and foliage would be decorating Westminster Abbey. Would there be the delphiniums that the King is so fond of? Would the Princess of Wales wear a floral crown as some of the fashion magazines suggested?

Well, there was no floral crown, and no stately blue delphiniums either, but for the right reasons, it was simply too early in the season. The only way to get delphiniums would have been to import them and that, even though they were the King’s personal favourites, was out of the question. Instead, the abundance of foliage and flowers that filled the Abbey were all sourced from the four nations of the UK via members of Flowers from the Farm and the five RHS gardens.

It was down to florist Shane Connolly, responsible for the wedding flowers of William and Kate, to arrange this seasonal palette. Working on a royal colour scheme of gold, burgundy, purple, pink, and red, flowers filled the Abbey but were never overstated, complementing, but not overshadowing the ceremony itself.

And, as would be expected, sustainability was at the heart of the floral designs. At the Great West Door, for example a pair of yew topiary trees were underplanted with a miniature meadow of wildflowers and grasses which will be moved to Sandringham to a new biodiverse garden.

Flowers used included hellebore (another favourite of the King) honeysuckle, tulips, ranunculus, aquilegia, along with rosemary, birch, bay, crab apple and rhododendron. Meanings abounded: lilac for memories of youth, bluebells for constancy, and forget me nots and lily of the valley both favourites of the late Queen.

If the choice of florals for the coronation tells us anything, it is that we have a flower champion in the form of the new King. One who not only understands but appreciates nature and the beauty of our UK-grown native flowers and foliage. The big question is, if the King is ready to forego one of his favourites because it was out of season, can we educate the flower buying public to do the same?


Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.




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