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Be Crowned at the Castle!

More than 400 floral crowns to be given away at Toby’s Garden Festival

Want to feel like a King – or Queen – of the castle for the day and get yourself crowned into the bargain? Then get yourself down to Powderham Castle, near Exeter, for Toby’s Garden Festival on 3rd and 4th May. Here you can create your very own crown for free – not of gold of course! – but a floral tiara of precious petals and fragrant flowers bejewelled with emerald ivy.

Festival host TV and BBC Radio Devon gardener Toby Buckland has teamed up with the gardening app and festival sponsor Candide and British Academy of Floral Art to show visitors how to make their own simple garland to wear and take home. With help from the RHS Gold medal winning Academy florists Tina Parkes and Julie Collins, Toby expects over 400 crowns will be made over the two days at the 14th century castle, home to the Earl and Countess of Devon, Charlie and AJ Courtenay.

The ancient Greeks were first to the fashion of floral crowns, wearing them as a symbol of triumph and heroic endeavour. They were traditionally worn on high days and holy days until Medieval times when they were frowned upon for their pagan associations. Queen Victoria gave them the regal seal of approval by wearing one with a veil for her marriage to Prince Albert. Now these floral fascinators are back, and you can have your own carnation-coronation at Toby’s Garden Festival on the first spring bank holiday of the year.

Garden fest visitors can also see the talented Devon master-florists in action in Powderham’s Dining Hall, as part of the two-day speaker programme, which also features BBC gardening presenters Joe Swift and Frances Tophill, and actor and keen gardener John Challis best known for playing Boycie in Only Fools and Horses. The florists will demonstrate how to make the catwalk version of the spring head-dress, now a popular choice for weddings and garden parties, with tips on materials, sourcing the right blooms and after-care.

Advance online tickets cost £10, children under 12 go free 

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Candide Gardening is a free gardening app that connects gardeners with fellow plant-lovers, public gardens and plant nurseries. It aspires to be the gardener’s best friend with a knowledge base of plants, news articles, plant identification, growing tips and garden tours.



The British Academy of Floral Art is a Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal winning flower school with a growing international reputation for teaching, based in Dunchideock, near Exeter in Devon. The academy was set up in 2008 by Floristry masters and qualified teachers Julie Collins and Tina Parkes. As well as offering their own specific course, they are a City & Guilds Centre of Training, enabling them to provide professionally recognised qualifications from Floristry level 2 to City & Guilds Masters. Emphasis is on practical floristry  with extensive skills development and business training. Honours include being asked to decorate No 10 Downing Street for a foreign state visit in 2016.



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