A Queen's Castle
Almost 7,000 visitors descended upon the 900 year old Leeds Castle in Kent for the annual Festival of Flowers this weekend to view the state rooms adorned with beautiful floral creations on the theme of ‘A Queen’s Castle’. Often referred to as the ‘ladies’ castle’, Leeds Castle is famed for being owned by six medieval queens. It is the legacy of these influential Royal women that inspired designs by international award winning floral designers from Dutch Master Hans Haverkamp’s Bridal Bouquet, Neil Whittaker’s Rich Royal Colours and Dennis Kneepkens Whimsical Woodlands & Whipped Cream.
The official opening was hosted on Saturday 24th September by English garden designer and television personality Joe Swift who gave a guest talk on ’30 years of Garden Design’ to a packed room in the 17th century Fairfax Terrace. Joe’s talk concluded an afternoon of demonstrations and talks on the themes of Botanical Beauties, Fun & Funky Flowers and Flower Arrangement Techniques.
The official opening attracted invited guests and friends of Leeds Castle including TV presenters Joe Swift and Jan Leeming, Helen Grant MP, Lady Monkton, Amanda Cottrell OBE and Sandra Matthews‑March from Visit Kent, Jane Streatfield from the National Garden Scheme and gardening experts including Steven Edney, Head Gardener from The Salutation, Jo Thompson Landscape Garden Designer and Marion Boswell Landscape Architect.
Speaking at the official opening on Saturday evening, Leeds Castle Chief Executive Sir David Steel said: “Leeds Castle has a long tradition of arranging floral displays. In 1901 the first ever flower festival was hosted here, making for the owners then a whole £25 on ticket sales! In the 1930s the last private owner, Lady Olive Baillie, who hosted society house parties attended by stars such as David Niven, Errol Flynn, Prince Edward and Wallace Simpson, was famous for her elaborate floral displays and passion for cut flowers”.
“Every year the Festival of Flowers just gets better and better. We are indebted to the creative talents of each of the 28 floral designers, South East Flowers our official flower supplier for over 20 years and Louise Roots, Head Florist, and her immensely talented team for overseeing the transformation of the Castle for this five day event.”
Lady Baillie’s love of flowers is a tradition continued by the floristry team today who provide floral creations to adorn the Castle rooms for the enjoyment of the visitors as well as creating beautiful designs for over 100 weddings, corporate functions and events every year.
Leiths are very proud to be a part of Leeds Castle. We served some delicious canapés for guests to enjoy including
- Tiger Prawn and Chilli Cream Cheese Tarts
- Wild Mushroom and Brie Arancini
- Chicken Liver Parfait toasted brioche, red onion jam
- Tomato Mozzarella and Balsamic Toast
During the Festival of Flowers around 13,500 visitors are expected to visit Leeds Castle to view the floral creations and join a programme of floral demonstrations, specialist talks and daily garden tours, included as part of the entrance ticket. For full event programme see leeds-castle.com/events
Leeds Castle Festival of Flowers: At-a-glance
20,000 stems of flowers and foliage
900 years of Castle history to inspire the creative designs
500 acres of beautiful grounds and formal gardens within the Estate
158 different types of flowers
50 different types of foliage
10 days for the flowers to last to look as beautiful for the last person in the Castle as the first
8 van loads of flowers to deliver
2 days to condition the flowers