As the days gradually start earlier and the dawn chorus deafens me as I prepare for the daily journey to the market, my thoughts are turning to another event that truly heralds the advent of Spring: the Chelsea Flower Show.
The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from 24th-28th May on the Chelsea Embankment, at the Royal Hospital, home to the famous Chelsea Pensioners.
This event is the epitome of all things English as the highest-ranking members of Society rub shoulders with the hoi palloi in an annual expression of Englishness – the passion and appreciation for all things ‘gardening’. It all starts with the preview day, heralded by the Queen and her entourage before it opens to the general public on the Tuesday. And it has become quite the media show. The BBC is now in residence, the show is transmitted live every day on BBC2 and householders who could not make it in person sit transfixed by the stories and designs as they unfold during the course of the week.
And of course the highlight of the week, for me, is right at the end, when plants, bushes, armfuls of flowers develop legs and stagger down the street, take over taxis, cars and buses as we Brits remind the world that real dedication to a cause will brook no hurdles! But whilst I laugh at them, this British eccentricity is one of the things I am most proud of…
Another, less well-known aspect to the week is a competition created by Cadogan Estates for their tenants around Sloane Square to show-case their stores by dressing them with flowers and plants in tribute to the Flower Show. This has been going for ten years now and is starting to feature in its own right in the consciousness of the discerning British public.
The idea was to create a little publicity for everyone involved and to have a little fun at the same time. It also creates a sense of community amongst the good businesses of Chelsea as they stand out as a collective in floral abundance!
We have been involved for the last three years or so with the competition on behalf of companies such as Montblanc, Links the Jewellers and this year the Sloane Square Hotel, La Perla and M Restaurant (who strictly speaking are outside the area to qualify for the competition but who want to participate in the decorations anyway). The theme is ‘Carnivale’ and the Brazilian Olympics . Sadly I am not able to share the designs we will be doing yet but rest assured Chelsea will burst into brilliant Technicolor during that week – I can’t wait!
Amongst the prizes to be won there is ‘The People’s Award’ where the public can vote for their favourite displays. So please do go and have a look and caste your vote – it is all part of the fun.
As a floral designer, I am glad to see that flowers must be the main material used to create the displays and that the rules forbid the use of sprays or other substances to modify them or dramatically alter them. I also appreciate this opportunity for floral designers to showcase their work and receive some badly needed publicity and attention.