Though the fashion for flowers historically attracted all that could afford to indulge it, its epicentre were the grand palaces of Europe’s Kings and Queens. The most famous flower in the 16th and 17th centuries was the tulip. Tulip mania gripped Europe for decades, for the beautiful flower imported from the Low Countries was unlike anything else in Europe at the time. The flower quickly became a widely-traded luxury commodity, as well as a status symbol. At its height, a single tulip bulb could be sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. The tulipomania has gone down in history as the first economic bubble and crash.
Kensington Palace gardens
Victoria Floral Armchair | Louis Round Back Floral Chair | Blossom Bedside Table
While the extravagant trend for tulips was an exception, the Tudor, Stuart and Georgian love of flowers was extreme. The gardens of palaces were expertly curated to the finest details and were a principal means for projecting the owner’s wealth and grandeur. The passion was fuelled by the growth of trade and travel, as well as the popular pastime of promenading the grounds. Mary II, on the throne between 1689 and 1694, had one of the largest private plant collections in the world, importing flora and fauna from the Mediterranean, Virginia, the Caribbean and Mauritius. Today, 215 of the ‘Exotick’ specie she collected can be seen at Hampton Court with many re-introduced in recent years.
Hampton Court Palace gardens
Thankfully, over time, flowers lost their elitist status, yet their captivating natural flamboyance that lured the monarchs of the past has never waned. Exotic flower colours and intricate floral prints can be found as much inside homes as in gardens, and contemporary designers and stylists continue to draw from the flowerbed to decorate our lives.
Mandarin Chair, Turquoise | Normandy Window Seat | Roma Chair, Salmon Pink
Florimania is at Hampton Court Palace until the 26th of March and Floral Accent Furniture can be found at ACHICA until the 29th of March.
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View all posts by Annabel Sheen
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