May Chelsea Flower Show
Lucy Vail - 1 min read
Winning the pitch to design the Bull Ring Gate Entrance to RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 was without a doubt one of the biggest highlights of my career to date. Not only is it the main entrance through which HRH The Queen enters but I’m incredibly proud to say that I’m the youngest ever florist to design it. I have been dreaming of taking part in the Show for years but having the opportunity to create something magical for the first May show since the pandemic and during Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year made it all the more exciting. Determined to create something truly special for the occasion, my team and I designed the biggest gate installation yet: a six-by-six metre archway featuring over 3,000 British-grown plants in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee. All plants used were sourced from British flower farms and growers, with the aim of replanting all of them once the show was over to reuse the stems as cut flowers in summer weddings to come.
Months of designs, redesigns, thousands of meetings and a veritable tonne of paperwork led to the build; but how were we going to pull it off? Alongside our core team, we worked tirelessly across 3 nights (from 9pm-6am) with Peachy Productions, carpenters, florists, volunteers from garden design schools and cherry picker drivers to bring the installation to life. The most complicated element was the logistics of building something so huge at night - especially when it was also being viewed during the day. We worked 23 hours on Day 1 to ensure the whole structure went up in just one evening and although we’re very used to creating all sorts of installations, building one on this scale was a real first for us. We decided to keep things simple by creating the skeleton from marquee trusses with a wooden sleeve which we then attached black landscaping fabric onto - this is what held the plants in place.
The next couple of days were all about planting, but before getting on site, we carefully plotted out every square metre (each one held 49 plants!) on the ground before going up onto the structure. Building at ground level was fairly easy, however, once out of reach of a ladder we were at the mercy of a very rickety cherry picker which flung us around the basket when covering even the smallest of distances - and actually broke down on Day 1!
It was completely surreal finishing with the team at 6am on Monday morning, knowing that when we return at 9am for Press Day hundreds of people will have seen our hard work. After three long nights of working in the dark, it was honestly a dream come true to see people walking through, photographing and admiring our finished piece.