Hat-trick of medals sees Irish bloom at Chelsea Flower Show


AS IF on cue, London’s leaden grey skies finally lifted and the sun came out at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show yesterday, as Ireland’s gardeners and flower arrangers celebrated a wonderful hat-trick of medals; silver-gilt for designer Diarmuid Gavin’s Westland-sponsored, futuristic vertical garden; silver for the Co Dublin-based Naul Gardening and Flower Club’s floral art exhibit; and bronze for Newry-based Siobhán Hughes of George Preston florists.

To cap it off, several Irish stands also won certificates of commendation for the high quality of their displays, including that of Houses, Castles Gardens of Ireland which was sponsored by the UK branch of Tourism Ireland. The Arklow-based stained glass artist Bianco Divito also received a certificate of commendation for her stand which was both built and designed by her husband, the Irish garden designer Damien Keane.

Next in line for a Chelsea medal – fingers firmly crossed – is the 32-year-old Dunshaughlin-based florist, Jenny Murphy, of Flowers By Moira, who is competing in the RHS Florist of the Year category, having qualified by winning one of the regional heats earlier this year. The competition brief that the Irish florist has been given is to design/create a “floral chandelier” that might be hung at the Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee dinner.

Happily for her, Co Waterford-based firm Tara Crystal Chandeliers agreed to custom-make a chandelier for the purpose.

Having spent the last five to six weeks carefully planning and tweaking the final design of her floral display, the Co Meath-based florist finally took the ferry from Ireland yesterday – flowers, floral accessories and chandelier all carefully stashed in the back of her van. With the help of friend and fellow Irish florist Bernie Coffey, she’ll begin staging her floral exhibit later today, with judging taking place first thing tomorrow morning.

But whether or not she wins a medal, Ms Murphy is delighted to be taking part. “I never thought I’d get to the Chelsea Flower Show, let alone compete in it”, she told the Irish Times earlier this week. “I still can’t quite believe it.”