GROWING UP in Derbyshire, the Revd Antony Pritchett, now Vicar
of Pickering, in York diocese, got hooked as a boy
on the art of well-dressing, he told me. There were plenty of
buttercups and other wild flowers to use and experiment with, and
eventually he became, for many years, the joint designer of the
famous well-dressing at Tideswell.
He explains how it is done. "A well-dressing is a wooden
framework filled with clay made to a smooth satin finish. The
outline of the picture, pre-drawn, is laid on it, and the design
pricked out with compass points and a dressmaker's wheel. Once the
drawing has been removed, the design marked on the clay is lined
with reeds and straw, peppercorns and beans. Then, using lichen and
leaves, thousands of petals, and entirely natural material, the
whole picture is filled in."
The tradition is thought to go back hundreds of years, and is in
thanksgiving to God for the blessing of water.
When he moved to the incumbency of Pickering in 2008, and began
thinking about a flower festival, he met Gill Renshaw, of the
National Association of Flower Arranger Societies (NAFAS), who was
thinking along the same lines. She undertook to organise it, but
was enthusiastic about Mr Pritchett's contributing a well-dressing.
Last year's flower festival was on the theme of The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe.
Then, this year, the NAFAS exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show
was a recreation of Monet's famous painting of the bridge and water
lilies in his garden. Originally, they thought of having a copy of
the actual painting on an easel beside the garden. Then, thanks to
Ms Renshaw, Mr Pritchett was asked to recreate the same painting
in flower petals (below), and he and Ms Renshaw spent 60
hours working on it.
It is believed to be the first time that well-dressing art has
been displayed at Chelsea, and it attracted crowds at times 20
deep. Mr Pritchett has been told that the Queen greatly admired it.
He is now working on the idea of The Wizard of Oz as the
theme for the flower festival at his church of St Peter and St Paul
next year, to see how he can give it "a positive Christian