May 23, 2014
Gold for Barbados at Chelsea Flower Show

The Barbados Horticultural Society was earlier this week awarded a Gold Medal at the Clelsea Flower Show.{{more}}

A gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, the ultimate accolade in the horticultural world, is highly sought after and rarely achieved.

According to a release from the Barbados Horticultural Society, this is the 16th gold medal for Barbados in 27 consecutive appearances at the show.

“When added to all the other medals won, 10 Silver-Gilt and 1 Silver, this all equates to a truly incredible achievement and a phenomenonal record of continued success,” the release said.

The chosen theme for this year’s exhibit is the Sailor’s Valentine, an extraordinary art form that represents a truly unique link between Barbados and Britain.

During the 1800’s, when Britannia ruled the waves and Barbados was a major maritime hub in world trade, floods of British sailors poured into Bridgetown in search of “fun and frolic.” While there they also looked for special souvenirs to take home for their sweethearts, with the Sailor’s Valentine being the most special of all. Many of the finest examples still in existence today were originally purchased at the New Curiosity Shop in Bridgetown, owned by the Belgrave brothers. The classic Sailor’s Valentine is housed in an octagonal mahogany box with a glass cover to protect an intricate, delicate and painstakingly assembled collage of tiny, naturally coloured seashells, often incorporating a floral motif, a heart shape and a verse or message.

To portray the exquisite magnificence of the Sailor’s Valentine, the team members created four enlarged floral replicas, with each one symmetrically positioned within a 20ft x 20ft formal landscaped area that is itself nestled in an octagonal perimeter to reflect the shape of the boxes. Each quarter of the garden is separated by four walkways, created with seed-pods from the Mahogany tree, converging into a lush tropical interior – resplendent with McArthur Palms, Dracaenas, Cordylines, Philodendrons, Heliconias, Anthuriums, Ginger Lilies and Orchids.

The Barbados Association of Flower Arrangers, ably represented by Jackie Ferdinand and Wayne Ramsey, also tasted success by winning a Silver Medal in the Sculpture in the Garden section of the show with their beautiful entry entitled ‘Temptation’.

According to the release, the members of the Barbados Horticultural Society Team are all unpaid volunteers. They take great pride in the fact that they grow, pick and pack their own blooms and foliage, all collected from private gardens and nurseries around the island, and ship them from Barbados to Chelsea in numerous very large boxes.  The working team at Chelsea this year comprises Jenny Weetch, Shirley Anne Howell, Carol-Anne Brancker, Trevor Inniss, Wayne Ramsey, Alexia Rudder, John Leach, BHS President Orson Daisley, Jackie Ferdinand, Sally Miller and Trevor Hunte, with Keith Miller giving support with PR work. In addition, there is also a small army of other volunteers who do diligent work behind the scenes throughout the year. The tremendous ongoing success of Barbados at the Chelsea Flower Show is very much the result of a great collective effort, whereby many people willingly share their skills and resources.