BE A FLOWER SHOW JUDGE
What it feels like to ...
IWAS brought up around flowers so I was always a natural with them. My mum made floral art every year at the Royal Highland Show near Edinburgh and I loved helping. The show was big for art, so there were lots of opportunities to get creative. I loved making detailed miniature gardens the most.
My dad had his own business and I didn’t see him much but when he was home, we liked digging in the garden. He liked growing beans and peas. I found it magical that I could take food and eat it from the plants. The smell, freshness and the fact we had grown them in our own garden was special.
My advice is always to give plants love because it will show in their crop. I have my own greenhouse and grow chillies, rocket, lettuce, peas and tomatoes. My fireman husband loves the hot chillies. There’s nothing nicer than having a barbecue and cutting leaves I’ve grown from my own garden, knowing that if I cut rocket, it will grow back. It’s also much cheaper than supermarket prices.
When I worked as a florist, I loved picking flowers from the Dutch vans arriving at the shop in the morning. I remember three of the most beautiful roses arriving. It was the smell of the freshly cut flowers that I liked most: there’s no better smell than that. People would always comment on how good I smelled; I miss working with them.
Plants are very intricate and they change seasonally, so I was never doing the same thing and never got bored.
I started my own business, which really took off. I ran it for 12 years, but it grew so much that I ended up focusing on accounts and didn’t even get my hands on the flowers. I sold it on to an employee and worked in retail as a visual merchandiser dressing windows and creating displays. It was all about making the most of the space they had. Then I applied for a position at Dobbies, where I got the opportunity to be a visual display judge at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London, which was my lifelong dream.
The shows have different themes every year, but specific criteria must be met: fresh material must be
incorporated, good use of space and no artificial products. The show focuses on succulent living and how to plant for purpose by looking at ways to create more green space and make plants more edible in cities. Tranquil mind space is important for people’s mental wellbeing and keeping plants helps the bees to pollinate more, which cleanses the air.
I’ll be judging the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week as a panel leader and influencer. It’s the second biggest show and sets the same criteria as the Chelsea show, except it’s a much larger site. Although I’ve done it before, I still feel nervous.
Visit rhs.org.uk and dobbies.com