Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2018 – Floristry Competition

Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2018 – Floristry Competition

It’s that time of year again and the flower shows are off to a flying start with the Harrogate Spring Flower Show, in Harrogate.

The spring show has a large floral pavilion incorporating both floristry and flower arranging displays and competitions. This year, both Nicola and I decided to enter the competition open to people with over three years of experience in professional floristry and our brief was to create a bridal design to be held in the hand for the wedding of a famous couple, either real or fictional.

We had great fun brain storming our ideas and, in the end, Nicola decided to make a gothic, textural and slightly ‘wacky’ handtied for Helena Bonham Carter for her marriage to Tim Burton. I went for Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummers Night’s Dream.

Nicola’s design could all be created in one session, and was always going to be stunning, but as I work part time and so am able to spend a little more time on my mechanics I wanted to see if I could do something completely different to what might be expected, for my own satisfaction as well as to push the boundaries a little.

I wanted to make something with a real wow factor and in a design that I hoped would be different to the other exhibitors. I decided on a woodland sceptre, as Titania is a queen and they live in the woods according to the play. I chose deep purple Vanda orchids as my feature flowers, partly for their longevity out of water, but also as purple is associated with royalty, and just happens to be this year’s Pantone colour of the Year.

I only lost one night of sleep wondering whether my creative mechanics were going to work and if it was going to be so heavy that you couldn’t lift it, but as I started on the design, everything seemed to come together very nicely. The handle was made with a piece of fresh bamboo, which I covered with double sided sticky tape as a base to attach my flat and reindeer moss and dried stachys leaves. I then wired the moss in place and glued the stachys leaves to make a lovely soft handle feature.

For the top section (I was quite proud of this idea). I placed a wedding bouquet holder down the centre of the bamboo and then drilled holes through the whole construction so that I could then make a chicken wired ball to sit over the top and wire this onto the bamboo to hold it in place. As I wasn’t going to be able to water the small wet oasis ball in the centre after the piece was constructed, I placed cling film over the top to help prevent it drying out, but this also required some scalpel work to enable the flowers to be inserted, it felt quite surgical with guide wires and incisions, but the grape hyacinths and chincherinchee’s, and Pieris flowers and purple clematis stayed in place.

I had a selection of ferns and Ceropegia plants and rather rudely squashed their root balls as flat as I could and wrapped them in cling film too, floristry can be very high tech at times! These I threaded through the chicken wire so that they were sitting on the wet oasis and would help to create the lovely foliage ball I wanted on the top. Lastly, I filled any remaining gaps under the chicken wire with moss and the remaining sections of chicken wire that were still visible om the outside covered with flat moss which was pinned into the moss below, I was rather pleased with the whole effect.

To give the whole sceptre the wow factor and movement, I then added flowing silver birch and contorted hazel branches and wired individual Vanda flowers which were then both recessed into the woodland ball but also arching out of it. Finally, I glued tiny pearls to some beech tree seed cups that I’d collected and nestled these in the moss on the handle, a few on the top section but the majority I wired onto silver bullion strands with threaded deep purple hyacinth pips and Vanda orchid flowers. These I then attached into the top of the sceptre so that they wafted around the design as you carried it.

The very last touch was to glue individual flowers from the chincherinchee and a white kalanchoe onto the branches to add a little more interest and to make the whole thing feel a bit more ethereal. I loved it when it was all finished.
The next challenge was to transport what had turned into a rather large construction over to the Great Yorkshire show Ground in Harrogate to be entered the show. Both Nicola’s and my designs made it to the show, mine, almost in one piece!

The atmosphere in the floral pavilion when everyone is setting up their designs is electric with excitement and creativity. It’s worth entering the competition to be able to spend a little time being surrounded by such as buzz as beautiful creations are appearing everywhere you look.

The show opened on Thursday morning, all judging having been done early in the morning. When I arrived, although neither Nicola or I had won a prize this time, the quality of the other entrants was really high, and I loved the designs that the judges had chosen as the top three and I thought I’d share them with you.

First Prize went to a design for Jane to wear on her hand and wrist at her marriage to Tarzan. This was my favourite entry too. It had been staged beautifully and was wonderfully simple but technical and very effective.

Second prize went to this amazing carmen rose bouquet intended for Minnie Mouse. This rose is made up of a central flower around which individually wired petals from many other roses are added to give the overall effect of one huge flower. This one was almost perfect without a single bruise or bend in any of the petals. It would have taken so long to make and was beautiful so definitely worth of a prize.

The third place, funnily enough went to another design for Minnie Mouse. Again, this was a really cute design and fitted the brief well. The idea, colours and textures were perfect for Minnie and I was very glad they’d won too.


All in all, it was an excellent competition with a really high standard of entries and it’s safe to say Nicola and I really enjoyed the taking part as well as appreciating the winners. We’ll just have to try again in the autumn and enter the next one.

Katherine