The Corgi StoryMay 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
How we came to greet the Queen with our floral corgis at the opening of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012
This is the story of possibly the most random thing we have ever done…and certainly the most exciting. You may have spotted in the coverage of this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show three little floral corgis…well they were made by Anna Brook, our Director here at iapetus. However, Anna is not a florist or flower arranger, so how she ended up at the most prestigious horticultural show in the World is a rather wonderful story.
It all starts 10 days before the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 opened during the Malvern Spring Gardening Show also run by the RHS. Each year Anna organises a competition in Great Malvern, (Worcestershire) called ‘Blooming Hills’. Traders there create wacky floral displays in their windows to coincide with the Spring Gardening Show. This years theme was ‘Queen and Country’ so Anna created a life size Corgi for the window of iapetus gallery.
‘Blooming Hills’ was judged by Lesley Watson and Bill Simpson of the RHS who both enjoyed the floral creations…including our corgi. When they arrived back at the showground they chatted with Robert Sweet, Head of Shows at the RHS about the event, and mentioned Anna’s corgi. Well, next day Robert popped up to visit the town to see the corgi. He then took Anna to one side for a secret chat. Robert explained that he had a gap at Chelsea that he thought a family of corgis, as it is the Diamond Jubilee year, would be perfect to fill. He then dropped the bomb shell… if we could do it the corgis would be placed at the entrance to the show as a surprise for the Queen when she arrived…and that Anna should be there to meet her!
Obviously this was an opportunity not to be missed, so of course Anna agreed. However, as this was to be a surprise for Her Royal Highness she could not tell anyone – apart from me, her husband who she seconded to help her!
So, flowers, oasis and wire mesh loaded we travelled down to London on Saturday evening (19th May) to be ready to start at the crack of dawn on Sunday at Chelsea. On arrival we were ushered into the floral display marquee where some of the UK’s finest floral display artists were to create their displays for the show. Needless to say we felt like impostors!
We worked tirelessly for the next 30 hours (with just 6 hours sleep) creating the three corgis – a dad, mum and pup, spurred on by a supply of Breakaway biscuits kindly given to us by the ladies running the floral design marquee. We used over 2,000 flower heads to create the cute pooches using flowers sourced specially for these corgis by the lovely Lyn at Malvern florist, Forget-Me-Not on Belle Vue Terrace. Eventually we finished at 3pm – 2 hours before the Queen was due to arrive. We just had time to get ourselves dolled up before we got the call to bring out the corgis.
As we brought them out into public view Alan Titchmarsh walked behind us and his face lit up with a beaming smile.
Anna then waited nervously alongside the Mayor of Jersey hoping her corgis would behave themselves. They had a little practice run whilst lots of dignitaries arrived, and Anna had a chat with Princess Michael of Kent as Princess Anne and other members of the royal entourage walked past. Then came the big moment.
Anna told me afterwards…‘The Queen was absolutely charming and smiled when she saw the corgis, she asked me how I had made them, and I talked to her about the flowers, as she wanted to know what I had used. I can’t remember much else, it was so overwhelming trying to remember to curtsy, and get my Majesty’s and Ma’am’s the right way round!
‘I was thrilled to be part of commemorating the Jubilee year at Chelsea, and then to actually meet the Queen herself was the icing on the cake.’
Since then the corgis have appeared on both the BBC 6 o’clock news and twice on the BBC 2 coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show, including a cameo presenting role alongside Alan Titchmarsh himself and Carol Klein in the presenters studio (Alan sat there stroking one of them whilst he chatted away to the camera… we think they may be going home with him after the show ends!)
There ends our corgi story. Something we’re sure never to repeat, nor ever forget!