The RHS Chelsea Flower show is held annually in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in late May (24th-28th May 2016). For just five days the space, no more than a couple of football pitches in size, turns into a horticultural wonderland buzzing with thousands of green fingered enthusiasts, not to mention a plethora of other insects and local Chelsea fauna! It is one of those quintessentially English events that launches London firmly into bloom.
This year FARA shops have fully embraced the opportunity to support the London In Bloom campaign which ‘celebrates the efforts of London Boroughs, communities, businesses and individuals who do so much to make London a special place to live, work and visit.’ FARA Shops are currently brimming full of blooms with flowers kindly donated by local florists and supermarkets as well as floral items of every description given to us by our lovely community!
Floral decoration never seems to go out of fashion – the versatility of floral prints means we will always be wrapped in material meadows, swathed in summer bouquets and dressed in tropical jungles.
Since the earliest days of civilisation humans have used floral decorations whether they are living blooms, dried out plant materials or artificial facsimile to embellish their environment and persons. From the heights of the sophistication of Japanese flower arranging, through ceremonial garlands and wreaths to flowers just thrown into a vase.
Throughout history our fascination with all things floral has never waned. Each century brings its own flower fad. For example, during the Dutch economic collapse in the 17th century, ‘Tulipmania’ brought about inflated contract prices for tulip bulbs leading to an inevitable crash. From this emerged the development of artificial flowers; fake flowers made of paper, silk and other materials. The 18th century saw the art of floral composition in painting progress as seen in the work of Dutch still life painters such as Jan Van Huysum. 19th century clipper ships brought exotic new species from China such as chrysanthemums, rhododendrons and azaleas; from South Africa the gladiolus and freesia and from Mexico the dahlia and fuchsia to delight the European elite.
Even the most ordinary of floral fabrics such as chintz started off as a prize commodity – first developed in the Far East where ornate floral designs were sold to European traders for high prices in the 1600s. Designs were copied and mass produced in India and imported to England and by 1680 more than a million pieces of chintz were imported a year to England, France and Holland… Its unbelievable popularity became of such grave concern for English and French mills who at the time couldn’t make it themselves. Following this, in 1686 the French declared a ban on all chintz imports and in 1720, English parliament outlawed the wearing and use of all chintz! Who would have thought that the wearing of a floral dress could be such a threat to the establishment?
Visit your local FARA shop to choose from a wonderful range of floral designs and look out for London In Bloom window displays in all FARA shops until Sunday 5th June.