Five of our talented florists from across the country are set to wow the crowds at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, as they compete for the prestigious title of Interflora Florist of the Year in front of a live audience.
These florists have fought off tough competition during a round of regional heats held across the UK and Ireland last year and have all made it through to the Grand Final on Tuesday 3rd July. After months of planning and preparation, they’ll battle it out in our Summer Garden Party themed final, and one of them will be crowned Interflora Florist of the Year 2018!
Our finalists will capture the quintessentially British tradition of al fresco dining in their stunning floral displays and will each be making a picnic basket, a garden parasol, a table arrangement and a surprise item which will be announced on the day. As well as earning themselves the sought after title, the winner will have the opportunity to represent the Interflora British Unit at the FTD Interflora World Cup in Philadelphia, USA in March 2019.
So, let’s meet our finalists…
Charlotte Davies – Hilary’s Floral Design, Abergavenny, Gwent
Charlotte started in floristry after graduating from art college and has been working at the family business ever since. She has competed in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show six times claiming two Gold medals, one silver-gilt, one silver and one bronze. Charlotte has worked as part of the Interflora team at RHS Chelsea twice and was a finalist at the Interflora Florist of the Future and Florist of the Year competitions.
For Charlotte, competing allows her to push boundaries and express herself. She revels in the challenge of creating something new and innovative, as well as florally beautiful. She said, “Ever since I entered my first competition I have loved the thrill and excitement. I really relish the opportunity to design and create things that I wouldn’t usually get to do – and I seem to thrive under pressure, which stands me in good stead on the day!”
Laura Leong – The Flower Basket, Stourbridge, West Midlands
Laura has been a florist for 30 years and has built her highly successful career on the back of competitions and training. An experienced competitor, Laura has travelled across the world representing the UK in events including the Europa Cup in Genoa 2016 and the Croatia Cup Bridal Competition in 2014. A twice-winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Florist of the Year, she has also won numerous other well-known industry accolades and has trained many World Skills participants on the intricacies of competing.
She said, “I really enjoy the competition atmosphere and buzz; it’s such a great opportunity to push yourself and stretch your imagination beyond what you’d usually create. This time there’s even more at stake because the winner gets to represent the UK and Ireland – and that’s something really special.”
Katherine Murray – Going Dutch, Nelson, Lancashire
Katherine has worked at Going Dutch since finishing her A-levels and loves the buzz of working in a busy shop. A previous competitor in Young Florist of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, she has also taken part in numerous regional competitions including Interflora’s Northwest Florist of the Year.
With a contemporary style creating modern, structured designs, Katherine thrives under pressure and relishes the opportunity to come up with wild creations when she competes. She said, “I love to be creative and opportunities like this allow me to do something completely different and come up with some really wild designs. The different things we need to create offer so much scope, I just can’t wait to get started!”
Rachel Matthews – Greenfingers, Worthing, West Sussex
Rachel has floristry in her blood, having helped at her parents’ shop, Greenfingers, since she was just ten years old. A love of flowers took root and after completing a number of college courses in floral design she took over the shop in 1997. 20 years on and Rachel is as busy as ever, combining retail and commercial floristry with demonstrating at local flower clubs and societies where she is a regular speaker.
Rachel added, “I used to compete when I was younger and reached a few finals but I haven’t done anything like this for a while. It’s good to meet the other florists and see how different people approach the brief, it all helps fire your creativity and give you new ideas to take back to the shop and our customers.”
Natalie Alexandroff – Greenfingers, Worthing, West Sussex
A relative newcomer to the world of floristry, Natalie changed career in 2009 and has worked in her current role ever since. A huge fan of everything floral, she has always had a creative streak, enjoying interior design and gardening and sees floristry as another way to express her creativity and ideas. With limited competition experience Natalie had no preconceptions about what the heats would hold and found she enjoyed both planning and executing her designs as well as completing the timed piece.
Natalie said, “I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m delighted to have reached the final – although it’s quite daunting too! I’ve always had a creative streak and like coming up with new ideas.”
Find out more about RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show here.