Dreams have come true for Flowers from the Farm members Beth Bruce-Gardner, Fi Passey, Ruth Robinson and Tess Wardman who, working together as The Fairford Flower Collective, have been selected to exhibit at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.
The collective was formed after this mix of florists and flower growers met each other through the Flowers from the Farm network (FFTF). As Ruth explains:
‘I had just spotted Tess as a fellow local on the website and got in touch with her when I was suddenly contacted by both Beth and Fi, who, having used the Flowers from the Farm website to find me, contacted me to buy flowers. We had coffee.....and the rest is history!’
Despite all living within a five mile radius, without the FFTF website they probably would never have met.
‘We owe a lot to Flowers From the Farm!’
The four meet regularly and support each other's businesses. They run workshops and events in and around Fairford. Last autumn the Collective exhibited and were awarded a silver gilt at the RHS Malvern Show, no mean feat for their inaugural show entry.
The floristry competition at this year's Chelsea Flower show will focus on British flowers and sustainability - something that's at the very heart of the Fairford Flower Collective's ethos as Ruth, who runs wedding flower business, The Cotswold Garden, explains:
"We are all becoming more environmentally aware and offering an alternative to imported flowers is important. It’s a refreshing, more personal experience for brides to see where and how their flowers are grown and the beneficial connection they have to nature – plus the lovely surprise that many are scented! Growing flowers in their true season in their natural habitat means less watering or need for added heat and with minimum distance to travel they have maximum vase life.”
The Collective saw off some tough competition to win one of eight places in the 'Our World' exhibit in the Great Pavilion, as there were reputedly over 2000 entries.
'We really didn't expect to get in, in fact the letter from the RHS was mistaken for junk mail and lay unopened for a few days!" said Beth who now runs Cotwsold-based flower business, Honeymoon Fern, after relocating from Scotland where she previously ran a catering business.
The top secret Chelsea design, created by Fi Passey of Corky and Prince Wedding and Event Flowers, clearly struck a chord with the RHS and we can’t wait to see it revealed at the show. . Fi, who retrained in floristry after a career in financial services, explained that the Collective aim to raise awareness amongst visitors about the beauty and variety of home grown blooms that can be produced without the environmental impact of imported flowers.
Now that the news has sunk in, everyone is busy preparing for the show with seeds sown and plants being raised in greenhouses and gardens owned by family and friends. All of the team are growing flowers but the largest plot is managed by Tess, who runs Iris and Wilf, a cut flower business supplying florists and brides.
The logistics of creating an exhibit for Chelsea are not insignificant as the flowers need to be in pristine condition and refreshed by 7.30am each morning over the week of the show.
Despite the challenges the team are thrilled to be going to the most famous flower show with Fairford grown flowers -
'It's going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and we're enjoying every moment of it,' concluded Ruth.
If you would like to know more about the Fairford Flower Collective and their Chelsea journey, visit their Facebook page @fairfordflowercollective.