A cor­nu­copia of blooms

A mid­sum­mer an­nual event in the Duke of Devon­shire’s Der­byshire seat glo­ri­ously brought to­gether the flo­ral ex­cel­lence of the gar­den and this year’s ter­cente­nary of the land­scape ar­chi­tect Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown, re­ports Jacky Hobbs

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Pho­tographs by Clive Ni­chols

The an­nual Florabun­dance event brings the ex­cel­lence of Chatsworth House’s gardens in­side, re­ports Jacky Hobbs

Florabun­dance at Chatsworth House, Der­byshire

Bear­ing in mind the ter­cente­nary of Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown and the ma­jes­tic land­scape scenes he en­hanced and cre­ated at Chatsworth (an es­tate that is duly cel­e­brat­ing the an­niver­sary in style), one could be for­given for won­der­ing where a sum­mer fes­ti­val of flow­ers could fit in. How­ever, flo­ral de­signer Jonathan Mose­ley (www. jonathan-mose­ley.com) has suc­cess­fully cre­ated bold and abun­dant flo­ral ar­range­ments be­fit­ting the op­u­lence of Chatsworth House, while sub­tly rever­ing Brown’s de­fin­i­tive im­print on the sur­round­ing english-land­scaped gardens. (Brown was en­gaged at Chatsworth for sev­eral years be­tween about 1758 and 1766.)

Brown’s pas­toral de­sign in­flu­ence was sig­nif­i­cant, but not soli­tary; flow­ers have crept into the gardens over time, with­out de­tract­ing from the quintessen­tially english land­scape. These pho­tographs record Chatsworth’s ninth Florabun­dance, an an­nual five-day event that show­cases many of the flow­ers and fo­liage grown and gath­ered from the es­tate. To fur­nish it, boughs were clipped from ancient trees planted by Brown; grasses and wild­flow­ers were gath­ered

from the mead­ows he cre­ated. They have been em­bel­lished with English-grown flow­ers from the es­tate’s ded­i­cated Cut­ting and Kitchen Gar­den, with con­tri­bu­tions from lo­cal grow­ers in Der­byshire and York­shire.

Bear­ing in mind the ter­cente­nary, Mr Mose­ley em­braced Brown’s de­sign aes­thetic, cre­at­ing nu­mer­ous ar­range­ments in stone vases rem­i­nis­cent of those out in the gardens and strate­gi­cally plac­ing each ves­sel in its wider set­ting, cre­at­ing fo­cal points and us­ing ar­chi­tec­tural niches to frame ar­range­ments.

Some of Mr Mose­ley’s in­stal­la­tions rep­re­sent coun­try­side el­e­ments of the Brown land­scape, such as the ‘field of pop­pies’, and oth­ers are de­lib­er­ately po­si­tioned on deep win­dow sills, draw­ing the eye to con­nect with the out­door scene beyond the glass. An abun­dance of trees and shrubs through­out the 105-acre ar­bore­tum and gardens pro­vided branch and bough, no­tably, weep­ing sil­ver birch, pine, fir, maple and beech. Some flow­ers came from the shady ravine, among them candelabra prim­u­las, fox­gloves, ferns and Solomon’s seal and the kitchen gar­den yielded ar­ti­chokes, mint and sage.

Mr Mose­ley col­lab­o­rated with Chatsworth’s cut-flower grower, Becky Crow­ley, to en­sure

that quan­ti­ties of peren­nial flow­ers could be gath­ered for the event from the ded­i­cated Cut­ting Gar­den. They in­clude Rus­sell lupins, pur­ple and white alliums, un­named but abun­dant black-bearded irises and sky-blue del­phini­ums. The pe­onies were har­vested from a 100-strong av­enue of stock plants, their flow­ers rang­ing in colour from White Wings to Crim­son Glory, with vi­brant-pink Duke of Devon­shire in be­tween.

Like­wise, thou­sands of an­nu­als were raised in the first half of the year by Miss Crow­ley, in­clud­ing the cow-pars­ley-like bishop’s flower ( Ammi ma­jus), fragrant Spencer sweet peas, marigolds, Ice­land pop­pies, ten­der ger­beras and zin­nias.

Some 25,000 stems were sown, grown, cut and con­di­tioned on the es­tate, ad­vises Miss Crow­ley. After three full days of in­ces­sant cut­ting, the blooms were handed to Mr Mose­ley and his team of 40 lo­cal florists, who, to­gether with an abun­dance of fo­liage, trans­formed the ma­te­rial into ma­jes­tic and mean­ing­ful ar­range­ments through the house. For next year’s Florabun­dance dates— it’s usu­ally held around mid­sum­mer— visit www.chatsworth.org in the New Year

Fac­ing page: The Painted Hall, dec­o­rated in 1687–94, fur­ther or­na­mented with bold and dra­matic ar­range­ments in huge stone vases, el­e­vated on pil­lars and plinths. They in­clude boughs from Chatsworth’s trees, such as fir, beech, box and acer. In the fore­ground, star­bursts of green an­gel­ica and feath­ery wands of Stipa gi­gan­tea are ‘un­der­planted’ with green-tinged, un-ripened lilies and a rash of ma­genta pe­onies. Above: A tiered flo­ral trough skirted with suc­cu­lent Echev­e­ria is filled with roses, hy­drangeas, eu­phor­bia and glad­i­oli, com­ple­ment­ing the flo­ral art­works

Above: ‘A field of pop­pies’: Pa­paver nudi­caule Cham­pagne Bub­bles, raised un­der glass, in­ter­laced with co­ral Heuchera Bran­don Pink and tan­ger­ine candelabra prim­u­las from the ravine. Fac­ing page: In the Painted Hall, Jonathan Mose­ley in­cor­po­rated ma­te­ri­als typ­i­cal of the Van­i­tas theme, de­pict­ing the cy­cle of Na­ture through to death and de­cay. Emerg­ing rhodo­den­drons join blowsy pe­onies, Cor­nus kousa, martagon lilies, Al­lium cristophii and Solomon’s seal, bol­stered by ar­ti­chokes, gourds, grapes and ex­otic pineap­ples, the lat­ter a nod to his­toric pineap­ple cul­ti­va­tion at Chatsworth

Above: Beauty in sim­plic­ity: flared vases erupt with del­phini­ums, Stipa gi­gan­tea and vi­brant Cro­cos­mia fo­liage. The colours sym­bol­ise Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown’s use of wa­ter, the youth­ful green of saplings and the golden op­u­lence of Chatsworth. Fac­ing page: The bunched blooms in rep­e­ti­tion sug­gest ar­range­ments of a by­gone era. The vases hold Rus­sell lupins, as­tran­tia, cam­pan­ula, pale fox­gloves, mint and fox­tail mil­let. In the sen­try stone vases are hosta and fat­sia leaves, poppy seed­heads with alliums cristophii and Globe­mas­ter, pale pink pe­onies and rib­bons of Mis­cant­hus x gi­gan­teus grass

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