Bampton in Devon

Bampton in Devon

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Flower Festival

A personal view

Sometimes we don’t realise how blessed we are, spoiled as many of us are by world class exhibits, entertainment, personalities and the like on television. Sometimes a village transcends its always ‘good-old-days’ past and the negative nattering about the now, to present its own brief vision of a global achievement. It seems to me we are most divinely human when we create extraordinary in-your-face ‘don’t-miss-this’ feelings, sounds, or visions.

Sometime ago I wrote about the extraordinary auditory experience of an inspired peel of bell ringing at Bampton Church during the installation of the dapper Reverend Stone. I was touched then. I have been touched again. This time by the compelling visual experience I had at the Millennium Flower Festival with its ‘Celebration’ theme in Bampton church. What so utterly amazes me is the extraordinary talent that resides in the village. Each floral creation came out of the and minds and fingers of familiar people one might meet picking over stems of rhubarb at the local greengrocers, or perhaps buying sausages at the butchers. Each captivating entanglement of blooms might be fashioned by the same hands that wave to a friend across the double-parked cars in Brook Street, or maybe by someone you rub shoulders with at the local fish and chip shop picking up some local tasties because the ‘flower thing’ takes too much of their time, leaving none to prepare a ‘proper’ dinner for ‘him’.

From the generative spirit of these folks came such innovative creations as: an imaginative waterfall of floodlit scabius cascading down out of a hidden flight of stone steps; red heleconiums (from Ecuador) fashioned into fish among the sea-fan-like philodendrons creating a lifelike aquarium with an amaranthus coral reef; three separated volcanic spumes of fire-like gladioli spouting from a bed of crocosmia and dahlias; and several small, neat, exquisitely crafted little panels of scenes made from insignificant bits of junk such as a tiny bunch of plastic bananas, bits of straw, nut shells, bottle tops, etc, the kinds of stuff birds might use. In the Lady Chapel by the organ, the elegant swish of the modern imagination presented itself in the form of an upright flat spray of four stark white cala lillies gathered in two swirls of green bamboo, taking us into the century beyond that of the warmingly familiar old wagon wheel and bale arrangement interlaced with various coloured blooms and grain-full stems of straw, tugging us back to a nostalgic past we are reluctantly but inevitably just about to let go of, as first-hand memories fade away. Such was the imaginative creativity with plant life and plant remains, one gets the impression any of these amateur floral artists could make a masterpiece out of anything that has, or once had, a bit of life in it. The world is richer for these ‘floral design’ extensions that have spilled over from the flower arrangements ‘petalling’ our sideboards.

Thank you to Ann Trigg and the organizers and floral fashioners of a visually memorable world class event in the humble village of Bampton. I was moved. I was touched by the depth and breadth of your extraordinary imaginations and skills. Beautiful!

Jim Ward


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