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Judging Belgravia in Bloom 2023

‘Into the Wild’ was the theme for this year's Belgravia in Bloom Flower Festival and it inspired so many wonderful creative installations to be judged, 46 to be precise!

I am very passionate about judging; as a past competitor I know what effort, emotion and hard work goes in to creating and installing a design and can therefore appreciate why it is important to have an understanding of what the judges are looking for. And of course its a joy and a privilege to judge on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society and the Grosvenor Estate.

2023 is the eighth year of Belgravia in Bloom and I was delighted to join the Belgravia in Bloom judging panel.


Kathryn Sherwood RHS UKFJG

Karen Barnes RHS UKFJG

Paul O’Grady Grosvenor Estate

Judith Blacklock Flower School – Tunnel of Orchids

The theme ‘Into the Wild’ gave the participating Belgravia retail shops, hotels and restaurants the opportunity to create large, impressive installations and displays, allowing their imaginations to run riot.

Neill Strain Floral Couture

As a judge, we are trained to be impartial, going to a judging assignment with an open mind. We study, research the theme /schedule beforehand so that we can try and imagine what the competitor/entrant had in their mind when creating the installation.

So, for example, ‘Into the Wild’ could mean wild animals, wild environment, wild hedgerows, wild flowers, the list could go on. It’s important for the competitor to think through the theme and rules so that the story telling is clear, clean and depicted for the judging panel to appreciate and allocate marks accordingly.

The Judging Criteria for Belgravia in Bloom has 3 basic headings:

  • Display,

  • Planting*

  • Overall Effect.

*Planting refers to all fresh materials used.

For each headline criteria, there are a number of considerations:


  • originality

  • quality of the design

  • if containers are included, are they suitable?


  • Choice of materials selected

  • Colour scheme

  • Is it well maintained?

Overall Effect:

  • Is it aesthetically pleasing?

  • Does it have immersive qualities?

  • Is it bright and eye catching?

  • Is it empathetic to the environment?

  • Its relevance to the theme.

  • Has it got the Wow factor?

Additional important information for us to consider whilst judging each installation, is that entrants incorporating the theme into their design, will be more likely to gain marks for their interpretation of the schedule. If retailers can incorporate their brand and relevance of their business within the design, then marks can be gained.

Displays can be internal, external or both, linking from the inside out or vice versa. The rules state that there are no restrictions on shape or size but 80% of the finished design must consist of fresh flower materials. Silk/Faux materials and accessories may be used, but must not dominate, unless the entrant is competing for the Best Overall Display in Silk/Faux.

There are 4 prize categories:

  • Best Overall Display

  • Best Overall Silk/Faux flowers

  • Best Interpretation

  • Most Innovative

All other entrants are awarded Gold, Silver, Bronze or Merit.

For those entrants that choose to use silk/faux flowers, there are a number of benefits.

Preparation and construction can be done weeks in advance and the display can be

re-purposed, re-used or re-cycled. There is minimal maintenance, and the display can be used for several weeks if permission is granted to keep the installation in place.

Congratulations to all the entrants this year, it was an incredible experience for all, giving pleasure to the public, the judges and the teams that work behind the scenes to ensure a super, successful show.

I must also add bravo to the Royal Horticultural Society, The Grosvenor Estate, bravo to the businesses that entered, bravo to the florists and creatives that masterminded the designs and bravo to my fellow judges, together we created a triumphant Belgravia in Bloom 2023.

Looking forward to 2024!


With over 35 years’ experience, Karen Barnes is one of the UK’s leading consultants to the floral industry and an expert in product development, future trends & colours, and floral photography design & planning. She’s an interior floral designer, high profile wedding and event floral planner, and prominent international competition judge.

From teaching on a one-to-one basis to coaching small, intimate classes and larger teams, Karen can encourage, motivate and mentor your next step in the florist industry. Sharing her vast experience, Karen can help you expand your knowledge and creativity.


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