Glenda Stansbury tells Living about her growing journey to bring FlowerFest18 to Christchurch this June

Flowers and nature have always been a big part of my life. From early childhood days, in the corner of the garden along with my twin sister, where we would secretly pick the home grown flowers and crush just ‘a few’ of the roses to make our own rose scented perfume!

To watch the growth, change and the ever changing cycle of nature is wonder in itself. It is a stark reminder that time is constantly moving and the seasons of change are always governed by Mother Nature, (and providing we all do our part now to ensure her role is not compromised by our own environmental calamities that we bestow upon her).

I did not start my floristry career until later in life. I remember leaving school and considering floristry but I was young and impressionable and swayed in other directions. Naturally the florist in me needed to come out at some stage, and if I have learned one thing it is that following a deep rooted passion should always come first.

I qualified in ANCF level tree many years ago when Bournemouth and Poole College ran a floristry department, with many great tutors including Jo Richards NDSF, FBFA, and CERT Ed. Jo now runs her own successful floristry school The Academy of Floristry, in Bournemouth and I am delighted her students will be working on the floral designs at FlowerFest18.

So back to Flowerfest18 and why I find myself working all hours to get this event off the ground. A couple of years ago I set off with some friends and visited Girona, Spain and the Temps De Flors Flower Festival, now in its 62nd year.

I was inspired by the streets all lined with retailers and businesses showcasing their own creativity and ingenuity. From a small plant pot to a more elaborate window display of floral art, it was a feast for the eyes and senses.

It was clear local participation was key to the success of the town’s biggest revenue provider. Whilst walking the streets of Girona it dawned on me that my home town of Christchurch in Dorset would be the ideal venue for our own flower festival.

Around about this time, I also found myself experiencing first-hand the lack of provision for support for young people trying to recover from mental health illness. Many young people from all sorts of different backgrounds and circumstances struggle to gain the help they desperately need, with families often travelling five hours to see their child.

It is therefore an area close to my heart, that the underfunding of mental health illness is so unbalanced and needs addressing. The support after illness is not given adequate resources and perhaps more importantly with one in four young person’s being affected, preventative action and more mental health education will be required in school and society.

So with the link of flowers, nature and gardening proven to increase serotonin and consequently help in rebalancing mental health wellbeing for us all, it seemed logical to bring the two areas together.

The seed of an idea had been sown for FlowerFest18, and in this inaugural year ALL net profits will be donated to Dorset Mind youth sector fund registered charity no.1108168.

How do you get your idea to translate from vision to reality? With determination and resilience, but mainly with the help of a community also believing in the power of the flower. The positive, feel-good factor that blooms from nature and perhaps also the fact we may all now know someone affected by mental health illness.

There are several areas in Christchurch involved in FlowerFest18. The floral trail map will show locations and runs from June 13 to 17.

The Priory grounds have kindly allocated their gardens, which have been sponsored by local companies and organisations; Saxon Square will become a wellbeing area for local organisations along with a community floral design which will grow according to public participation; the High Street retailers and businesses are being encouraged to participate and the lovely, tranquil location of The Red House Museum is welcoming FlowerFest18 on June 16 and 17.

I hope this inaugural FlowerFest18 will sow the seed to a regular and growing event for Christchurch.

FlowerFest18 T: 07799 641999 F: T: W: