Living Flowers

Celebrating Jane Austen

Winchester Cathedral is a magnificent building and place of worship that holds the grave of the much-loved author Jane Austen. The area around her grave has become an integral part of a visit there and being given the opportunity to create a floral design in this part of the cathedral for the Winchester Flower Festival last September was very special.

For me the connection to Jane Austen has always been her books, so they needed to be the focus of my design concept. By looking at how books were incorporated into shop displays and wedding themes, I was inspired to include a book wall and shelf along the ledge beneath the memorial together with seating for reading and small tables displaying the books she had written, and so te design began to take shape.

The Winchester Cathedral Flower Arrangers understand the importance of Jane Austen and are often involved in creating flowers in this area to commemorate her birthday or anniversary. Having given the main concept of the design to their team leader Helen McGarry, various mechanics and materials were delivered to them so the team could begin working on the design.

Four small square plywood tables, along with some old paperback Jane Austen novels were given so that pages could be glued to each table to form their surface. These were used to display groups of Jane’s novels, along with simple vases of flowers, to highlight the books she had written and the way flowers would have been placed in the home at that time.

Two tall metal stands (0.6m wide/1.8m high) created the free-standing book wall with team member Bob Crockett sorting out how to cover these using plywood sheets. He came up with the idea of making the back, which would be visible, look like a book cover once in place.

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Judith Blacklock
Judith Blacklock

Flora Magazine is edited by Judith Blacklock, proprietor of the world-renowned Flower School in Knightsbridge, London.