Floral art is full of surprises

Whenever we think of the main rites of passage in life, from weddings to funerals, we take for granted, perhaps, that the services of a florist will be on hand to help us mark the occasion. This month, though, seems to have been as much about that other large area of floristry work, ‘Other Occasions’ – all those diverse other events that make interesting and unusual demands on our creativity and floral art skills.

One key commemoration this summer has of course been the First World War 2014-2018 WW1 Centenary and the marking of the D-Day landings. Community groups and local organisations across the country have been busy planning events to honour previous generations and remind the new ones of the historical impact of the two world wars.

This is my contribution to one event in a picturesque corner of Cornwall, as part of Charlestown Church Flower Festival. The theme for this element of the event was, ‘There’ll Always be an England’, based on Rule Britannia, to commemorate D-Day.









When the event finished, the flowers in my entries were still fresh and vibrant, so I rearranged them and donated the resulting creations to Mount Edgcumbe Hospice to be enjoyed there.

Later in the month, an even more unusual floral challenge awaited me around around the corner, set by the ‘Academy of Floral Art’ in Exeter, where I trained…

This summer, Ambius, the world’s largest interior landscaping company, decided to commission a celebration of Britain’s sporting achievements. Following a poll conducted to find the nation’s favourite sporting heroes and heroines, Ambius came up with the idea of asking floral experts to create works to celebrate these outstanding individuals.

I was one of the group of students and teachers from the Academy of Floral Art chosen to design floral portraits of the trio of winners – Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Lewis Hamilton – made entirely out of natural plants and flowers. Let me tell you, this was no easy task.

But it gave us an opportunity to plan complex work on a large scale and really show our floristry skills. We were determined to source flower material solely from a local British flower grower and wholesaler, and found plenty of locally grown material to create contrast, colour, and texture to the faces, including Dianthus, Eucalyptus and Beech leaves.

We were quietly chuffed with the results – see what you think – I’ve posted the portraits on over on my Facebook page here.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Our work is driven by our simple love of plants and the belief that gardeners make the world a better place.” [The Royal Horticultural Society]

It’s a simple statement, but as anyone who has been to Hampton Court, or the Royal Chelsea Flower Show, or taken part in ‘Britain in Bloom’ knows, the RHS encompass a huge and renowned range of initiatives and projects. They’re involved in everything from plant and pest research to international garden design, from providing primary education resources to support for professional courses, from local conservation drives, to world famous competitions showing the finest produce – including the best of the floral arts.

If you’re a gardener or you work in the floral industry, like me, the RHS are the important and prestigious ‘go to’ organisation. They set the standards for our industry, judge our efforts and give our work that all important stamp of approval. And yesterday, I went there – or more precisely I went to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show to take part in the first year of a new competition, Floristry College of the Year.

I was one of the team who created the competition entry on behalf of The Academy of Floral Arts in Exeter, where I trained. The Academy was among the finalists and we had a nail-biting few hours whilst our piece was judged.

However, there was plenty to see to take our minds off the judging. The arrangements in the floral marquee were stunning, and we were busy networking, taking pictures for inspiration, shaking hands with fellow competitors. It was only really on the way back home, after a long but exciting trip, after the publicity photographs, the congratulations, when our team had time to absorb the results of the day’s efforts.

We won GOLD. As you can imagine, all of us are delighted with having the standard of our floral design and creation work recognised with such a prestigious award.

RHS Floristry College Gold Award