BID backing key to Chelsea exhibit

Garden designer and florist team up with business improvement district for display at Chelsea.

Partnership: garden designer Cooke (left) and florist Horne (right)
Partnership: garden designer Cooke (left) and florist Horne (right)

A garden designer and florist are set to achieve their dream of exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show after teaming up with a business improvement district (BID).

Garden designer Debbie Cooke, who runs Creative Garden Design, has applied before to the world-famous show (20-25 May), but this was the first time she was able to secure sponsorship.

Multiple award-winning florist Sarah Horne has won a host of awards at the show, including Chelsea Florist of the Year in 2011, but she has always wanted to work on a major display in the Royal Pavilion.

The two will present a Royal Leamington Spa-inspired 6x6m exhibit to promote a town of just 40,000 people with the support of local businesses and the Leamington BID.

Horne, who runs Sarah Horne Flowers in the town and is on the BID board, said: "I don't think it's been done before by a BID, but rather than going to a big company in town we really wanted it to be a community venture. Cities and countries usually take this on, so we've boxed above our weight."

The BID hopes to raise £20,000 in sponsorship donations and goods, with an estimated £10,000 in free labour costs. It is also encouraging PayPal donations via its website and has tied the project into its "Love Leam" campaign.

BID chief executive Stephanie Kerr said horticulture is in Royal Leamington Spa's DNA, with a long history of businesses paying for hanging baskets in the town, now paid for by the BID at £20,000 per year. Leamington's Pump Room Gardens also marks its 200th birthday this year.

She added: "There's no doubt that the floral history of the town and the Regency heritage are strong selling points. We hope to see the town get a lot of positive press down at Chelsea.

"A lot of people will see the exhibit and it's already been valuable for us in terms of linking businesses. We're reaching out to new people."

Chelsea first-timer Cooke said both the BID and Kerr are "fantastic". She added: "I'm very excited, although I have slight trepidation because it's a huge deal."

Elements of the display will move to the Pump Room Gardens after the flower show has finished.

Exhibit Features show Regency influence

The bandstand-shaped exhibit features a Regency-influenced metal gazebo designed and donated by Clive Sanderson, Regency cream-rendered walls, clipped box and a series of pods that represent different aspects of the town.

The Temperate House, picnics on a floral lawn, naturalistic "wilder areas" and ice-cream coloured roses reminiscent of the town's bright bedding displays are included, alongside a table and candelabra water feature that will evoke a sense of dining by the lake.

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