Chelsea Florist Competition Inspired By Queen Victoria

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In honor of Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday, May 24th, 2019, the Royal Horticultural Society in association with the British Florist Association came up with a competition to create floral crowns.

The florists represented British Floristry to the more than 100,000 visitors to the annual Chelsea Flower Show. At least two-thirds of the finished design had to be fresh flowers and/or plant material.

Queen Victoria Portrait By Franz Xaver Winterhalter

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show Top Florists

Finalists used a variety of flora to create serious and sometimes whimsical creations in honor of Victoria, who created trends by using live flowers in her wedding attire to Prince Albert.

Here are some of the selections.  Can you guess the winner?  We will share with you shortly.

Florist Pippa Craigen Chelsea Flower Show

Florist Helen Pannitt Chelsea Flower Show

Lucinda Knapman, below, won the Bronze Award. Although her crown was fresh and airy, in my opinion, it needed more mature blooms.

Florist Lucinda Knapman West Bognor Flower Club

Helen Joyce’s crown won the Silver-Gilt Award along with Dean Sharpes and Ann Kirkwood’s creations.

Helen Joyce By Arrangement Flowers

Emma Keeler won the Silver, which is a few points less than a Silver-Gilt. I thought it was a gallant attempt at abstract natural floral. It also was a smart choice to put it on this display with its seafoam green. It created a modern feeling.

Florist Emma Keeler Chelsea Flower Show 2019

I really loved Ann Kirkwood’s creation, below, which won the Silver-Gilt Award. It was colorful and cheerful and tilted toward the natural theme with charm. It really is so happy, which Queen Victoria represented since she had not only a long reign but also a meaningful marital love.

Florist Ann Kirkwood The Woodshed

A winner at the Chelsea Flower Show 2019

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 Florist of the Year

Jackie Le Jehan’s design, above, took inspiration from young Victoria’s dress fabrics and the idea of a floral fabric coming to life through flowers. Instead of the traditional jewel placements are portraits of Queen Victoria’s nine children, which were created originally for a bracelet given to her by Prince Albert.  This crown won the Silver award.

Trudie Easton’s creation, below, didn’t win any awards. This is an example where the plant material overpowered the flowers. Although her plaid staging was eye-catching, one should always make the flowers the star.

Florist Trudie Easton Chelsea Flower Show

Drumroll, please. The winner of the RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year made the flowers the star.  Helen Pannitt of Helen James Flowers won the coveted award.  Helen James Flowers is located in Harrowgate, North Yorkshire, closer to Glasgow than to London. Her crown used colorful blooms as well as fit into the more natural earthy themes of this year’s show.

Helen Pannitt Wins RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year

Pannitt opened her first shop in North Yorkshire in 2001. In 2017, she came in second at the UK Florist of the Year. The RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year award for 2019 will  be this talented florist’s crowning glory.  – Jill Brooke

Our other coverage of the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show 2019:

Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year

Jill’s video of the storefronts on London’s High Street in honor of the Chelsea Flower Show

The Duchess of Cambridge’s Back to Nature Garden

Primrose Hall Exposes More than the Beauty of Peonies


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