RHS Chelsea 2021: Silver medal win for Cotswold florists 

Ruth Robinson, Fi Passey, Beth Bruce-Gardner and Tess Wardman pictured in front of the winning Chelsea Flower Show entry

Ruth Robinson, Fi Passey, Beth Bruce-Gardner and Tess Wardman pictured in front of the winning Chelsea Flower Show entry - Credit: Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts MBE catches up with the florists celebrating their Chelsea award

Four female florists from Fairford, Lechlade and Kempsford are thrilled to have won a Silver Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  

The four florists and cut-flower growers, Beth Bruce-Gardner and Tess Wardman from Fairford, Ruth Robinson from Lechlade and Fi Passey from Kempsford, work together as Fairford Flower Collective as well as separately running their own successful floral businesses. 

The ladies of Fairford Flower Collective had previously been selected to exhibit at the world’s most prestigious horticultural event in May 2020, but had their dreams and hopes dashed when the show was postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. More disappointment followed when the May 2021 Flower Show was also cancelled and further postponed till September this year. 

Now their dreams have come true and they are celebrating their Silver Medal win for their design in the Floral Window exhibit in the Great Pavilion at the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The theme of the 2021 show was ‘Our World’ and the Fairford Flower Collective featured in the British Blooms category. 

The autumn RHS Chelsea Flower Show focussed on British flowers and sustainability, which is at the very heart of the Fairford Flower Collective’s ethos. The Silver-winning entry was based on a quote by William Morris, who lived at Kelmscott Manor near Lechlade in the late 19th century: ‘We are only the trustees for those who come after us.’ 

READ MORE: Cotswold nursery pulls off a golden hat-trick with a top medal for their first RHS Chelsea Flower Show display.

The design concept evolved into a representation of their own Cotswold gardens complete with wildlife habitats, such as ‘no mow’ grasses, a bug hotel and a pond. The exhibit contrasted this natural scene with the hidden dangers of imported flowers, many of which are flown thousands of miles, come wrapped in cellophane and are sprayed with multiple pesticides.  

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Ruth, who runs The Cotswold Garden explains, ‘We wanted to raise awareness of the cost to our planet of unsustainable practices in our industry. Our flowers are as nature intended using eco-friendly methods and are loved by bees, butterflies and brides alike!’ 

Beth, who runs her business, Honeymoon Fern Flowers, from her workshop in Fairford agreed and says, ‘We wanted to show that there is an alternative to buying imported and often out-of-season flowers.’ 

Tess, who runs Iris and Wilf, says, ‘It was very important to all four of us that we supported the ethos of sustainability, as we all grow and sell fresh seasonal flowers locally. We wanted to showcase the glorious colours of autumn flowers with hot pink zinnias, orange dahlias and lime green Bells of Ireland – all grown locally in Fairford and Lechlade.’ 

Fi Passey, who runs wedding florists, Corky and Prince, says, ‘We had no idea, when we sat around Beth’s kitchen table in December 2019, eating cake and reading seed catalogues, that we would end up here. It has been an emotional roller-coaster ride with two postponed show dates and a wait of 19 months, but it is so worth it! All four of us are totally ecstatic and so proud that we’ve brought Cotswold-grown flowers to Chelsea. It’s all about looking after our environment and seeing the beauty in what is around, rather than looking further afield.’ 

The Fairford Flower Collective would be very happy to share their experience with gardening or other community clubs. If interested, please email ruth@thecotswoldgarden.co.uk

To find out more about the Fairford Flower Collective and their Chelsea journey, visit their Facebook page: @fairfordflowercollective, call 07791 841201 / 07799 527758 or email fairfordflowercollective@gmail.com