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Think of the last time you received an invitation relating to your business. It may have been for a networking event, trade show, conference, or a coffee catch up. How you feel about the invitation will often influence how you respond. I use a check list, of sorts, to weigh up my response.

One email I received in recent months included an invitation I just couldn’t refuse. I counted myself in straight away without any hesitation. It was a competition entry application for the Royal Queensland Show, affectionately known here as the “Ekka”. As part of the Flower and Garden Display, The Flower School was running several competitions open to students and florists. As I read the outline, my excitement levels rose quickly. Out of the three choices available, I was particularly drawn to The Heirloom Chair Design. The criteria involved using heirloom blooms, the types of “olden day” flowers our great grandparents would have grown in their gardens. The combination of materials, design, and theme, would determine how my entry took shape and form. The opportunity to let my imagination run wild sent me on a mission of research, planning, and sketching as the basis of forming my themed design.

The next step was to source a suitable chair, something old that would fit the heirloom theme and be a suitable base for my design. Using the benefits of social media, I appealed to my friends for help. I had several kind offers, and settled on one chair in particular that would best meet the brief. It’s so good to have the support of encouraging friends that continue to support me in my business. It really does make a difference.

Then it was off to my suppliers to scour the cold rooms for the flowers and other natural elements I had in mind.  My  final choices included chrysanthemums, snapdragons, asters, geranium, with assorted plants and greenery.  These  were chosen to reflect my childhood memories of my Grandmother’s garden, where a patchwork of colour was a playground for my senses whenever I visited her as a child.

The construction and design needed to convey my theme to the public and the judges, by telling a story through the elements of nature. Each part of my design was integral in translating the theme and story. Under the blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds, the array of colour burst forth from the garden. Much fun was to be had with the snapdragons, making up games and stories as we snapped their mouths open and shut. The bed of asters invited us to pick them and play with their tiny petals. It was a place to have fun and relax, for the adults to enjoy a cup of tea, and talk about things of which we had no interest. The citrus trees and tomatoes grew randomly, with the cumquat tree and its fruit being an oddity to us, never having seen it before. The smell of rosemary freshly picked added to the enjoyment and magic of this place.

After the construction of my design, my next challenge was delivery. Having not done this before, I followed instructions on the where and when to drop off my chair. On arrival, and being blessed with a parking space, I could begin my set up. The Old Museum was a wonderful venue to host the Flower and Garden Displays.

As I walked in I felt excited to be part of this event, as I tried to take in the feast for my eyes. There was a buzz in the room and a flurry of activity as people worked on their own floral and garden displays. The centre, tiered stage was large and formed the display base for the competition entries. I was shown where to place my chair, and set it out ready for viewing and judging the next day.

Whilst I didn’t take out a place in this competition, I certainly enjoyed the experience and learned insights that would help me develop my skills, and how working in a team environment benefits the public and the many organisations involved. The prize winners in each category displayed their amazing skills and imagination, congratulations to all. There were 14 entrants in the chair competition, and 3 place winners. Well done to all students and florists.

The industry is a winner. I also took the opportunity to volunteer to work on the display the following week. Keeping the displays looking fresh with watering and replacing is an important part of the process. The stewards, staff and volunteers do an amazing job overseeing that all displays are of a high standard over the course of the 10 days. Thanks to The Flower School and sponsors for playing your part in highlighting the floristry industry. I’ll definitely be back next year.