Flower Power at Leonardslee Gardens is blooming brilliant

Implicit in any great show entitled Flower Power must be a reference to the peace movement of the 1960s where the flower became symbolic of love and harmony.

This extravaganza of floral design staged between September 9-12 in the stunning environment of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens near Horsham epitomises that sense of tranquility, community and a wonderful experience collectively shared.

Exhibits entitled Psychedelia - presented by East Preston Floral Club and Lancing Flower Club - owe much of their inspiration to the 1960s. While the theme of a militant cry for peace echoes in the title ‘Green Piece’ from Lewes.

But at the heart of Flower Power - which celebrates the Diamond Anniversary of the Sussex Area of the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies - is sheer floral artistry at its exquisite best.

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    Flower Power. Photo by Gary Shipton. SUS-211109-153326001

    There is nothing pedestrian in this simply brilliant display apart from the need for visitors to walk through the lovely lakeside grounds from one masterpiece to the next.

    It takes floral art to a whole new level of excellence - with displays that are as beautiful as they are courageous and creative.

    This is Banksy, Warhol, Dali and Rembrandt all rolled into one fragrant living mural.

    Not surprisingly ‘Past Masters’ is the theme of the two flower clubs at Patcham and Storrington.

    Flower Power. Photo by Gary Shipton. SUS-211109-153536001

    Show Chairman Gaenor Circus from Warnham Evening Flower Club and her amazing team have had their work cut out - this event has not merely been two years in the planning but it has had to navigate all the challenges and profound sadnesses of the pandemic and lockdown.

    That is poignantly evoked in Design 12, entitled simply but movingly ‘For A Friend’. It remembers committee member Kath who passed away last year from the virus.

    But there is joy in abundance too.

    Wadhurst Flower Club and New Visions had tremendous fun devising Great Garrick - inspired by a desolate tree stump and converted to a woodland grotto of toadstools.

    ‘Cloudbusting’ must have been a feat of engineering to hang from the trees by Cuckfield Evening Flower Club and New Visions, but it shimmers there - giving a gentle hint of the Kate Bush song which inspired it.

    Meanwhile there is sheer, restrained elegance in the Ladies of the Lake - floral beauties who glide like hesitant lovers on the dance floor of water and brought to life by Crowborough Flower Club and Horam and Heathfield Flower Club. Its understatement makes the most powerful statement of them all.

    Of course, these displays cover not just the 1960s - but sixty years of this wonderful organisation.

    So the 1970s are well represented by ‘A Puzzle by Rubik’ (Worthing Flower Club) - a design as modularly perfect as the 1974 original - while ‘Down Hill Dash’ (Steyning and District Flower Club) is a vibrant celebration of the bicycle.

    The exhibition embraces the ‘World Wide Web’ in its own inimitable style, thanks to Little Common Village Flower Club and Ninfield Flower Group.

    And there are many more treasures aplenty - provided with loving skill and painstaking preparation by clubs across Sussex.

    There is little time left to enjoy it - so make your way there by September 12.

    It is sheer genius. Blooming brilliant.

    Bouquets please for Mrs Circus and everyone involved - for this is nothing less than an absolute triumph.