It was three years ago that I first visited Bickleigh Castle for a short break with my daughter, Ellie, and our family dog, Alfie Freckes, ostensibly to study - Ellie for her AS exams and I for my City & Guilds Floristry course, art and design unit.. Last week, Alfie and I returned, my car chock-full of foliage and flowers in every hue. The last few years have been an exciting period of my life; full of fabulous floral experiences, thanks to my floristry diploma, but this was to be my most magical to date.
I arrived, pinched myself, took a deep breath and was greeted warmly by a member of the Castle's staff and the team I would be working alongside for the duration. Whisked up to the Great Hall with vast bucketfuls of blooms, I glanced around at the minstrels’ gallery, the tapestries, the grand piano, the giant fireplace and the gloriously stunning vistas, framed masterfully by ancient leaded light windows, and I settled down to work.
I had been asked to design three flower crowns to complement the pastel ice cream colours of the exquisite dresses, hanging on a nearby rail and gently swaying in the hot summer breezes..
My fingers were itching to get started.......
With their hair coiffed, make up applied and flower crowns skillfully placed, three sylph-like models were being lead by their entourage through the Castle and out into the wondrous gardens below whilst I was left behind to work quietly, strains of their laughter and obvious camaraderie wafting up through the windows. Alone with my scented roses, vibrant dahlias and bevy of wild flowers, fruits, berries and foliage gathered during a foray, floristry scissors at the ready, through two flower fields and my own garden the previous day.
I had brought along the framework of a larger flower crown which had become affectionately nick-named my wild card crown over the morning and left to one side to be worked on later, time permitting.
Until the wedding magazines have seen the photographs of what followed, we are, none of us, allowed to show the results of our toil – so, for now, only this little “teaser” is permitted.
Watch this space for a beautiful, photographic journey through a very special, soporific day at Devon’s tiny but awe-inspiring Bickleigh Castle.