Monday, 15 August 2022

Two-week alternative gardening festival to end with floral flotilla

Two-week alternative gardening festival to end with floral flotilla

THE fourth Chelsea Fringe Henley festival gets under way tomorrow (Saturday).

The two-week alternative festival of flowers, gardens and gardening runs concurrently with the main festival and aims to showcase the wealth of horticultural talent in the town and surrounding area.

It has been organised by Victoria Newton, from Peppard, and Jane Macfarlane Duckworth, from Hambleden.

Mrs Newton said: “We’re obviously really excited, particularly this year because the festival has grown and we have got such a variety of events.

“There really is something for everyone, whether you’re interested in poetry, grow-your-own or garden design.”

More than 10 events will be held, climaxing with a floral flotilla on the River Thames in Henley on Sunday, June 4.

The festival will begin tomorrow (Saturday) with an informal one-day exhibition of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, at St Margaret’s Institute in Polstead Road, Oxford, from 12.30pm to 5pm.

The Camarilla Ensemble will perform a teatime cushion concert with botanically-themed classical music at Babylon Plants in Cuxham at 4.30pm. The nursery will also have an open day from 10am to 4pm.

On Sunday the Berkshire College of Agriculture in Burchetts Green will host a heritage day from 1pm to 5pm. Guests can explore the historic Grade I listed Hall Place and surrounding parkland and view the nautical-themed floral creations assembled by students.

There will be tours of the mansion gardens and wider estate at 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm. Sturdy footwear and appropriate clothing are advised. The ground underfoot may be uneven and is not suitable for wheelchairs.

The Henley Quakers will open up their meeting house garden in Northfield End, Henley, for the first of two “peaceful garden” events from 2pm to 5pm. Tea and cake will be available. The second event will be held on June 3.

From Monday and every day until June 4, a pop-up “Now and Zen” garden will be situated in the courtyard at King’s Arms Barn in Henley.

It will feature a sacred Japanese archway, gravel, rocks and maples. Members of the public are invited to journey through the arch and create their own unique pattern in the gravel with an authentic-style rake.

A meditative, silent woodland walk will be held at Greys Court on Wednesday at 10.15am.

Phyllis Court Club in Henley will host an event called “Pot to pan — understanding herbs” on Thursday from 2pm to 3.20pm.

This fun and educational talk will cover how to propagate herbs from the supermarket that will last and how to take cuttings from rosemary. Visitors can also discover the benefits of using fresh and dried herbs to enhance health.

A garden gong bath will be held at St Katharine’s in Parmoor on May 30 from 7.30pm to 9pm. Visitors can wash away the stresses of the week in the peaceful garden to the sound of multiple gongs.

Southbrook Cottage in Hambleden will host “Poems and Prosecco” on June 1 from 3pm until 4pm. Tea and cakes will be on sale but admission is free.

Dunsden Community Orchard will be open for the public to explore on June 3 from 2pm to 5.30pm.

It features historic varieties of apple, pears and plums, ranging from one of the earliest known varieties called Decio to an apple praised by Shakespeare as well as more modern hybrids with local connections.

Entrance to the orchard is free and short talks will be provided. Teas will be available in the village hall.

The festival will close with the flotilla off Mill Meadows on June 4 from 2pm to 4pm.

Organisers are calling for anyone who owns a river craft — from slipper launches to aquatic cars, coracles to inflatable canoes — to decorate their boat with a horticultural theme and come and join the spectacle on the water. Boats will gather along the Mill Meadows moorings at 2pm with a chance to decorate and prepare for a short parade.

Spectators are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy the display from the bank, accompanied by musicians performing on the bandstand.

Members of the Thames Valley Orchid Society will be showing plants and answering orchid-related questions.

The flotilla is free to enter but boats must be registered. Please call Mrs Newton on 07780 607738 or email her at

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