The magnificent and historic Gloucester Cathedral was the setting for the 2023 NAFAS National Show, ‘Florilegium’ an event that had been several years in the planning and which drew flower arrangers from near and far.
A cathedral can be a challenging space to design for, but that didn’t deter Elizabeth Newcombe, Interflora Florist of the Year, whose installation positioned at the show's entrance at the west end of the cathedral, caught everybody’s attention. Lizzie, who will be representing the UK and Ireland at the World Cup in September was, together with her official assistant Charlotte Davis, showcasing the skill and talent required to be in such a prestigious competition, and hopefully encouraging NAFAS members to make the journey to Manchester in September.
Reminiscent of one of the cathedral’s stained glass windows, Lizzie’s installation was on a 2m x 2m freestanding moon gate of burnished metal. It was filled with an intricate framework of green cornus, on top of which was woven a tapestry of pink, purple, orange, green and gold flowers chosen for their seasonality and longevity.
Attention to detail is of course, vital in competition work, and although Lizzie’s design wasn’t being judged on this occasion, the workmanship was faultless, as you would expect. Another challenge was keeping the installation fresh and alive over the three days of the show, so all the stems were in glass test tubes which could be refilled when necessary.
How it was made
Cornus is malleable, so Lizzie was able to bend, weave and wire it into shape before adding straight pieces to the base of the design for extra length and depth.
The Flower Material
To be successful, large designs need to be not only bold, (to draw attention) but also detailed when seen close up. Boldness was achieved by using tropical flowers such as Heliconia, Passiflora and Eremurus, while the detail came courtesy of sweet peas, Clematis, Nerines, roses and scabious. Pink Zantedeschia were curled across the centre to echo the circular outline of the frame.
All in all this was a stunning design meticulously thought out and beautifully constructed – and a hint of what is to come in September – not long now!
Make sure you're following the Floristry Trade Club on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest World Cup news. Tickets are still available for all three days of competition Tickets - Interflora World Cup 2023 (eventarena.co.uk)
Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.