@Chelsea

This year sees Flowers from the Farm (FFTF), a network of small independent flower growers, making their debut at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  With no sponsor and a shoestring budget, the exciting challenge will be led solely by volunteers who will not only demonstrate the amazing diversity and astounding beauty of seasonal, British grown flowers, but how through hard work and determination, a group of like-minded individuals from across the UK can work together to take their cause to the most prestigious flower show in the world. Members from the far reaches of the Hebrides down to the Scilly Isles in Cornwall and everywhere in between, are joining forces to supply and showcase their stunning, lovingly grown flowers at RHS Chelsea from Tuesday 22nd May to Saturday 26th May. 

The FFTF stand (GPF185) will be located in the heart of the Grand Pavilion alongside more than 90 nurseries, growers and florists from across the globe - an accolade the group hadn’t expected to achieve for many years.  This thriving network was started in 2011 by the single original member, Gill Hodgson, not only as a means for growers and florists to help and support each other, but also to collectively revive the seasonal, British cut flower industry. Something must be working, because from that first seed, FFTF has now grown to a network of over 500 members. It campaigns tirelessly on behalf of British grown flowers and aims to get them back in to more vases across the country, encouraging the public to buy fresh, local flowers with no air miles and a minimal carbon footprint, as opposed to those air freighted in from warmer climes in Europe and across the world.

These warmer climes are a sharp contrast then to the unpredictable weather we’ve experienced in the UK this year. The prolonged cold and late spring have been the cause of much anxiety and stress to many a grower, especially those who’ve volunteered their blooms for Chelsea. The flower season is weeks behind, meaning that much of the bounty growers expect to gather up for weddings and florists at the end of May, won’t be available in time for the show. However, the unpredictability of Mother Nature is intrinsic to working with the seasons, and whilst the flowers may vary somewhat from the norm, they’ll be what the season offers and they’ll be just as beautiful.

And now these flowers are about to go on the move. On Friday 18th May, over 100 UK growers will be transporting their share of an estimated 14,000 stems to one of 12 hubs dotted across the country where the flowers will be carefully packed into vans by local co-ordinators. These will then be driven down to Chelsea, where volunteers will start the hard build of putting the stand and props together and finally adding the triumphant floral flourish before the show opens to the public on Tuesday 22nd May. Blanketed in thousands of flowers and adorned with three life-size wire sculptures and one large installation, all crafted especially for the occasion by artisan makers, the stand is sure to be an attention grabber.

Applying for a place at the show was always a financial gamble for the organisation and many pre-show purchases were subsidised by the volunteers themselves. In order to recoup some of the expenses, these fabulous props are going to be put up for sale on eBay, with the auction starting on Tuesday 22nd May, the opening day of the show, and finishing on Saturday 26th when it closes.

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