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Climate crisis causes complete redesign for Chelsea Flower Show gate display

rhs chelsea flower show 2023 lucy vail floristry not another blooming heatwave installation
The florist behind RHS Chelsea's main gateRHS/Sarah Cuttle

Award-winning floral designer Lucy Vail has had the honour of designing the entrance to this year's Chelsea Flower Show, creating a beautiful floral arch to dazzle 168,000 visitors.

But unbeknown to many, Lucy was forced to change her 4,000 individual cut stem creation and create an entirely new colour palette, due to the ever-changing weather conditions that have left florists and growers struggling to plan ahead.

Climate change resulted in the delay of spring blooms, which meant Lucy's vision for a sea of blue flowers for her showstopping display was changed to a more widely available pink palette, to better align with the ever-changing unpredictable seasons.

This year's design, which visitors will see upon entering The London Gate, takes inspiration from the movement of the sea. Lucy, who runs Lucy Vail Floristry – an award-winning luxury floral design studio championing British-grown flowers and foliage, colourful seasonal blooms, and arrangements made with no single-use plastic – is known for creating the most spectacular, high-impact and immersive installations at weddings and events (prepare to be mesmerised on their Instagram page).

For RHS Chelsea 2023, Lucy's created an installation of cut stems flowing over the gate, depicting a beautiful wave-inspired display.

rhs chelsea flower show 2023 lucy vail floristry not another blooming heatwave installation
RHS/Sarah Cuttle

'We're creating this huge wave of what was meant to be blue flowers but because of global warming, the season is later than it was meant to be, so we're now doing a pink wave full of pink ranunculus straight from Floriston Flower Farm and British growers up and down the country,' Lucy tells House Beautiful.

lucy vail floristry, not another blooming heatwave installation rhs chelsea flower show 2023
RHS/Sarah Cuttle

Floriston Flower Farm is the family-run flower farm in Suffolk, run by Lucy's mother, Amanda Vail. Established in 2020, it's a unique partnership between grower and florist which means that Floriston can plant what is needed by Lucy Vail Floristry to minimise waste, plus it provides the opportunity to grow flowers that are often difficult to come by on the market.

lucy vail at floriston flower farm
Beautiful pink ranunculus, grown at Floriston Flower Farm for Lucy’s Chelsea Flower Show displayMikhail Lifshitz

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At Floriston, seeds were sown at the beginning of March in preparation for Lucy's RHS Chelsea 2023 display. And alongside ranunculus, much-loved foxgloves, orlaya, sweet rocket and tulips adorn the floral wave at the gate.

For Lucy, the shift to vivid shades of pink represents and celebrates the women that she works so closely with: an all-female team and predominantly female growers supplying flowers for the Chelsea installation.

lucy vail at floriston flower farm
The Chelsea display will be a nod to LucyLucy Vail Floristry/Floriston Farm

Lucy, who is back at Chelsea after designing the Bull Ring Gate last year, said this year's arch was 'more technically challenging and forward thinking'. But how will she keep the installation looking fresh for the entire week?

'You've got to be good with what you do in order to create something that will last a long time,' says Lucy. 'At Chelsea, we will be mixing plants with flowers and we'll be using flowers that are more long lasting, or they can dry beautifully. For example, a ranunculus dries almost like a butterfly, and so actually, watching that over the week is something special to see anyway. But otherwise we will be going back at 6am each day to ensure every single flower is perfect because I am a bit of a perfectionist.'

• The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 returns from 23rd – 27th May. Visit rhs.org.uk for ticket availability or sign up to become a RHS Member for reduced rate tickets to RHS flower shows.

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