Well, we can hardly believe it, but it’s here. The week we’ve been planning, living, sleeping and eating for months has finally arrived and, on Friday, I’m loading up a borrowed cattle trailer and a borrowed Range Rover and setting off on the 200 mile journey south to Chelsea. The props are finished bar a final coat of paint and the flowers are - at long last - starting to open up. Together with two other team members I’ll be assembling all the mechanics on Saturday and then enjoying a day’s rest while the 4-strong Sunday team swap in to flower the stand with some of the 14,000 stems of flowers sent to SW3 by our brilliant members. Judging takes place on Monday with the results published on Tuesday. Follow our exploits on Instagram and Twitter: bid for our fabulous unique props [including this fabulous wire sculpture] on eBay and gather round the telly on Wednesday 23rd May to see if you think we made a good job of it. Thanks for joining us on our journey to our first ever Chelsea Flower Show.
With 12 days to go until we go down to Chelsea to start work, our props are now all gathered in my garage. Such a relief to know that they’re all finished on time.
Have we mentioned what’s happening to them after the show?
You’ll know that we’re a not-for-profit company run by volunteers and we have no Chelsea sponsor.
Applying for a place at the show was always a financial gamble for us with members’ own money subsidising some of the pre-show purchases and we need to recoup as much as possible.
Hence - and we think this is the first time it’s happened - we’re putting our bespoke, unique props on ebay!
The auction begins at the start of the show and will finish at its close.
Three weeks today we’ll be biting our nails as the judges assess our finished display.
The weather, you will have noticed, has been dreadful but we have faith in British flowers and we know that our stand will be full of fabulous flowers in peak condition … they may not be the flowers we had anticipated would be ready in the third week of May, but they’ll be gorgeous.
That’s the beauty of ordering seasonal flowers: it literally means that the season is in charge and that your wedding, party, gift bouquet [or indeed RHS stand] will mirror what is flowering in this country … rather than in South America.
This week, the first of the props was unloaded at a secret destination and we’re delighted to give you a sneak preview.
Perfectly timed, with just a month to go until Chelsea, this week we welcomed the publication of Claire Brown’s eagerly awaited ‘The British Flowers Book’. Claire, who trades as Plantpassion in Surrey, is a long-standing, highly-involved FFTF member and her experience of selling to florists showed her an important gap in the market - which her book has now filled.
We’ll be taking a copy of her book with us to Chelsea because it’s an easy, colourful, beautiful way of answering visitors’ queries about seasonal availability of British flowers.
You can buy a copy of Claire’s book at https://thebritishflowersbook.co.uk/buy-the-book/
Five weeks to go and it’s STILL too early in our Chelsea count-down to start talking about the flowers. Instead, there’s a long list of tasks that are slowly being ticked off … 40,000 smart postcards are at the printers: the smart aprons that our members will wear while on duty at Chelsea have arrived and the [less pretty] hi-vis jackets that we have to wear while building the stand are here too. People tend to imagine we flower farmers spend our time dressed in floral pinnys and carrying vintage trugs … if only they could see us in our hi-vis and steel toe-capped boots! The 2018 show season kicked off this week with RHS Cardiff Flower Show where the Flowers From The Farm team picked up a Silver Medal and gave our Chelsea team a high target to aim for. Next we need the sunshine to bring on our beautiful British flowers. ...
The image on the slider is from last year’s Great Yorkshire Show but we’ll be smiling just as widely in just six weeks when the months of preparation for our first ever stand at RHS Chelsea Flower Show bear fruit.
As a not-for-profit organization with no sponsor and run entirely by volunteers we haven’t got access to the deep pockets of the big commercial stands and we are working on a shoestring. Fortunately, we’re a creative bunch and the lack of a big budget just adds to the challenge.
In sheds all over the country, our members are busy sawing, sanding and hammering: they’re glueing and painting: they’re watching over the seedlings sown back in September and they’re watching the clock.
Because, when you’re taking British flowers back in to the most famous flower show in the whole wide World, you need to get it right.