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How to run an amazing Flower Festival

It's all in the preparation...

Some worms on an ice cream!

If you only knew the hours of work 
that goes into organising a flower festival for the village,
then you'd understand perfectly how this lady, Jesse Cox
came to be collapsed in the front of my car last Friday.

Driving Jesse to church.
Jesse Cox started life as a papermache balloon head,
some wool hair, and a body stuffed with plastic bags!

She was created, last year by my Parents 
along with her soldier husband, and a bridesmaid or two
 for her 1918 Church wedding at St Mary's Longcot.
2014's Flower Festival was a World War 1 inspired.

2014 Long Church Flower Festival
This year's theme Painters in Flowers is an interpretation 
of the style, colours and work of famous artists. 

Each theme is meticulously planned by my Mother and her 
wonderful band of local Oxfordshire flower arrangers.

Mum has the vision, 
but turning that vision into a reality takes work,
 and an able assistant, my Father!

2015 Painters in Flowers at Longcot Church
Jesse Cox is back, by popular demand! 
2015 finds Jesse painting serenely in her garden...

In fact Jesse has not been anywhere.
Except sitting in my Parents dining room for most of her year,
whilst her war hero Hubby has been in the garage!

The finished scene

She needed a new frock,
and so has been redressed retaining her blouse
but a new skirt has been made.
She need to be redesigned to sit down,
cue Dad who made the cardboard box she is sitting on.

She needs a painting, paints, paintbrushes etc 
all that before anyone even attempts 
the beautiful floral arrangement to be painted.

Preparing the scene... painting Jesse's painting

Jesse needed the painting which we did one Sunday lunchtime
and proudly showed to the kids back home in Australia on Skype.

'Hmmm' said Daughter No 2 thoughtfully
'Have you done that Mum?' 
'I might have had a little dabble', I said proudly!

'Well, it looks like some worms on an ice-cream from here!'

'Thanks, darling!'

Some worms on an ice cream...

I'm not a Flower Arranger 
but I hear the same things time and time again...

Despite me showing you all the above at the end of the day

1. It's not about the props, it's about the flowers...

Vase of Flowers - Breughel
2. Conditioning the flowers is everything!
The flowers are prepped for display by soaking them in water 
for at least 24-48 hours which will help elongate their lives. 
These flowers need to last for two weeks.
Burning the ends of those with heavy sap will help.

3. Each flower must look individually perfect

even when the overall look is to be casual ...

4. Beg, borrow and steal your greenery!
Never go anywhere without your secateurs.

No garden in Oxfordshire has been safe...
This flower festival is a truly community event,
We've been gathering greenery from far and wide.

It has been rather disconcerting that 
as the British economy has picked up,
friends are employing gardeners more and more.
Tidy gardens are not as good for greenery!

The best story I heard was the friend who hates her variegated ivy
but keeps it growing 
as she knows how much the flower festival loves having it!

5. Buy your Flowers wisely

Whilst a lot of the flowers were kindly donated by the flower arrangers themselves, and this has been supplemented by some generous financial contributions from the village, 
it is expensive putting on a Flower Festival.

To ensure there is not too much out of pocket expense
flowers are carefully chosen for their long lasting blooms 
from a mixture of suppliers.

 The 'exotics' come from the local florist
 but the filler plants; chrysanthemums, lilies and carnations 
all come from the local Supermarkets!
Either Sainbury's, or indeed the majority coming from Aldi 
at the bargain price of 2GBP a bunch.

I hope you have enjoyed a little peak into the Flower Festival.
If you are in the area, do pop in and visit for yourselves
St Mary's Church, Longcot, Oxon
16 - 24th May 2015

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