1st November 2019
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20th September 2019
In our latest ‘People of Parham’ feature, we speak to Sally Adams from our Flower Team, who helps create our magnificent Cut Flower displays.
Before joining Parham, Sally arranged the flowers in Winchester and Chichester Cathedrals where she also helped create displays for their Flower Festivals. Sally has been on the Flower Team for six years and treasures Parham’s beloved traditions.
“I have always loved arranging flowers, and to be part of the Flower Team at Parham is particularly special for me. The flowers are arranged in Parham style, where the emphasis is much more on garden flowers arranged in the traditional way. Here, we never use oasis, just old-fashioned pin holders and chicken wire, which was a tradition that Alicia Pearson (Lady Emma’s great grandmother) started many years ago. This suits garden flowers much better and gives a lovely relaxed, natural look.
The Garden Team bring as many as 25 buckets of beautiful flowers from the Garden, picked the evening before, for use in the House displays.
Twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday mornings, we come in early and work steadily through the House, room by room, matching the colours of the flowers to the colour schemes in each room. The flower arrangements range in scale from a small posy on a table to much grander ones in the Entrance Hall, Great Hall and West Room. The largest of all (at least 3ft tall) is on the stairs, which is great fun to do when we have plenty of tall plant material, whether that’s beech from beside the lake or delphiniums and sunflowers.
We work very closely with the gardeners, who know the House well and are brilliant at providing the range of colours we need for each room, with plenty of good foliage. For example, in the Long Gallery there is a beautiful cabinet, lacquered in the Chinese style in red and gold, so the rich colours of dahlias look particularly magnificent beside it.
I previously worked as a House Guide, which gave me invaluable insight into the wonderful treasures and traditions at Parham. One of my favourite traditions is that when the enormous Banksia rose is in flower on the South Front we will have a small vase of its lovely little yellow flowers in the Green Room, which is dedicated to Sir Joseph Banks, the 18th century botanist after whom the rose was named. Similarly, we always have scented flowers on the chest beside the chair in the Long Gallery where Veronica Tritton (Lady Emma’s Great-Aunt) liked to sit.
Another important (and very practical) tradition is to put mats under each flower arrangement to protect the precious antique furniture. A number of these mats are very special needlepoint ones, hand-sewn by Alicia Pearson and Veronica Tritton. Some are almost 100 years old.
I have loved my six years on the Flower Team, and it feels a great privilege to work in this lovely House in the quiet of the morning, with gorgeous flowers and such a friendly team.”