The FFTF stand was located in the very 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 that hit the UK in spring of 2018. The prolonged cold, endless rain and late spring was the cause of much anxiety and stress to many a grower, especially those who’ve volunteered their blooms for Chelsea. The flower season was weeks behind, meaning that much of the bounty growers expect to gather up for weddings and florists at the end of May, wasn’t available in time for the show. However, the unpredictability of Mother Nature is intrinsic to working with the seasons, and whilst the flowers varied somewhat from the norm, they were what the season offered and just as beautiful.
And then those flowers went on the move ...
On Friday 18th May, over 100 UK growers transported their share of an estimated 14,000 stems to one of 12 hubs dotted across the country where the flowers were carefully packed into vans by local co-ordinators. These were driven down to Chelsea, where volunteers beganthe hard build of putting the stand and props together and finally adding the triumphant floral flourish before the show opened to the Queen, the judges and the World's media on Monday. 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 was always destined to be an attention grabber ... and we could safely say that this was the only display in the whole show where the team had little idea what flowers they would be using until 36 hours before it opened.
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 were sold on eBay at the end of the show.
On Tuesday morning, four members walked in to the pavilion to see a Gold medal on the stand.
There's no words ...