Meet the very talented Elizabeth Newcombe, UK & Ireland’s World Cup representative who absolutely wowed the judges with her skill and creativity when she won the Interflora Florist of the Year Competition earlier this year.
Elizabeth, who owns and runs The Botanical Company in Bramley near Guildford, has been a florist for nine years. She has successfully competed in numerous professional floristry competitions including World Skills and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where she won a Gold medal and was crowned ‘Young Chelsea Florist of the Year’ in 2019.
To make it to the final of Florist of the Year, Elizabeth had to first overcame strong competition in the semi-final, where she created a hand-tied bouquet, a bridal bouquet and a design suitable for a wellbeing garden, all under the theme Growing Together.
In the competition final, Elizabeth and four other supremely talented florists were tasked with creating four unique designs devised to test their skills, push the boundaries of their art form and encourage creativity and innovation.
Elizabeth first created a shawl inspired by botanical roots, which was made in advance and brought to the competition. She then had two hours on the day to design a table for two inspired by nature and, after judging, another hour to create a tied design inspired by bark. Weeks of planning and preparation went into the designs which were elegant and beautifully constructed in a colour palette of rich orange, pale lemon and delicate pink. The fourth and final design was a complete surprise with the brief only being revealed at the start of the session. Elizabeth had just 15 minutes to review the flowers, tools and materials available then two hours to complete her free-standing design, again inspired by the theme Growing Together.
As Interflora's new Florist of the Year, Elizabeth will now put her skills to the ultimate test at next year’s Interflora World Cup, battling it out against award-winning floral designers from around the world in a bid to raise the 2023 trophy. Being held at Manchester Central, visitors to the competition will be able to enjoy showstopping floristry, artisan market stalls, floral workshops and a glittering gala dinner to celebrate Interflora’s 100th birthday.
We caught up with Elizabeth to talk about the competition highlights and her journey to representing the UK & Ireland at the World Cup next year…
How does it feel to have won Florist of the Year 2022?
It feels truly incredible, although a little surreal still… It was a real honour to compete amongst such talent from across the UK and Ireland. All of the designs took hours of work behind the scenes in the lead up to the finals, so I’m also super relieved that all of the hard work and endless nights of preparations paid off!
Which of the tasks was your favourite?
This one is tricky to answer as I enjoyed all of them! I think designing and creating the floral shawl was my favourite; it was great to have such a unique brief that allowed myself and the other finalists to draw upon our creative strengths as designers.
Why did you decide to enter the competition?
It’s been a while since I last competed (which was about 3 years ago now!), so when I heard about the Interflora Florist of the Year competition, I thought, well… why not! I actually remember thinking about the thought of potentially representing the country at the World Cup and getting goosebumps, and that’s when I knew I had to enter.
What has been your highlight of the competition?
I feel really lucky that I was able to share the experience with my Mum and Dad and having them both there when the trophy was presented was such a big highlight for me. I can’t thank them enough for all their help behind the scenes!
How do you feel about representing the UK & Ireland at the Interflora World Cup?
I feel so incredibly honoured to follow in the footsteps of such talented florists in this journey to representing the UK & Ireland at the World Cup. I was lucky enough to attend the previous World Cup in Philadelphia in 2018, and I remember thinking how phenomenal it was. Being the next competitor is more than I could have dreamed of.
How would you describe your floristry style?
It’s taken me a few years to develop a style, but I like to work with a range of fresh materials that vary in texture and colour by using complementary wire-based frameworks. I showcased this in the frameworks for the shawl and hand-tied bouquet, both of which were created using wire covered in wool, paper covered wire and metallic thread using a drill.
What is your favourite thing about being a florist?
Flowers can play such a big part in people’s lives, and I really feel like they are a universal language across the globe. Being able to see and use so many different fresh materials throughout the year keeps each month within our industry exciting, whether you work in a shop, college, or in events. However, my favourite thing about being a florist is being able to compete and share the knowledge with those who are interested in developing their skills. I think it’s really important that we encourage aspiring florists into our skilled industry and show them just how exciting the wonderful world of floristry can be.
Elizabeth’s creations in the Florist of the Year semi-final and final were truly spectacular, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of her creativity and innovation next year when she competes at the Interflora World Cup.