After two years of enforced absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Barbados Horticultural Society (BHS)has once again returned to London to compete in the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show, considered to be the ‘greatest flower show on earth’.
At a time when more and more people around the world want to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, the Chelsea organizer shave chosen to highlight the mental, physical and social benefits of gardens as one of the main themes for this year’s show. It is common knowledge that immersing ourselves in the natural beauty of trees, plants and flowers can be a wonderful way to protect and improve our health and wellbeing.
In keeping with that concept, theBHS team designed and created a beautiful exhibit that invites Chelsea viewers to ‘Come Relax in Barbados’, in our healthy lifestyle island-home which has long been renowned for its powers to recuperate mind, body and soul.
And what better way for anybody to recharge their batteries than stretching out in a hammock slung between two palms in the midst of a Tropical Eden. In this case, a 100% natural hammock, hand-made from the leaves of the remarkably productive and sustainable coconut tree by Bajan artisan Daniel Jones, who also produced crowd pleasing hand-woven hats for each of the team members.
Mounted on a 15’ x 15’ stand alone platform, the flamboyant exhibit displays classic Caribbean favourites such as Heliconias, Ginger Lilies, Anthuriums, Bromeliads, Orchids, Pink Tulip Ginger hybrids,Ornamental Bananas, Ferns, Succulents, Sea Grape leaves and bunches ofCoconuts. All of which have been painstakingly positioned by the arrangers to create a captivating, artistic array of exotic blooms and foliage.
Each year at Chelsea, the final judging process takes place throughout Monday and into the evening, with the certificates being placed on each exhibit in total secrecy during the dead of night when the show ground is completely empty. So, it was this Tuesday morning around 8:00 am London time, long before the sun rose in Barbados, that we first discovered that distinctive looking Silver Gilt Medal Certificate proudly perched in a prominent position on the stand. This latest stellar performance means that Barbados now has a remarkable record of winning a total of 20 Gold Medals, 12 Silver-Gilt and 1 Silver in 33 appearances at the Chelsea FlowerShow.
Due to the many difficult challenges faced by all entrants competing at Chelsea, along with the extremely high standards set by the judging panel, winning a medal - of any colour - is considered a major achievement within the world of horticulture. For various reasons, this year has proven to be particularly testing, especially for the Barbados team. As such, all those involved deserve special recognition for whatever part they played in helping create this year’s success story.
None more so than the actual team who came to London. Ably led by experienced Chelsea Co-ordinator Jennifer Weetch, the working party comprised Susanne Ryan Graham, President of the BHS; Rev.Dr. Wayne Ramsey JP, First VP of the BHS; Jackie Ferdinand, Trevor Inniss, Trevor Hunte and Sally Miller; with Keith Miller providing support with the PR andMedia work.
In addition to the official team, there is also a small army of other volunteers who do invaluable work behind the scenes throughout the year. The vast majority of the plants exhibited were all grown in Barbados by society members and commercial growers, then carefully picked and packed last week by willing helpers, ready to be flown to London in 56large packing cases with the team. While it is impossible to list everybody who donated blooms or foliage, special mention must be made of C.O. WilliamsFlowers, Barbados Flower Forest, Coral Reef Hotel, Michael Waithe, MichaelGill, Barbara Ward and Jeff Chandler.
One of the significant secondary roles of the BHS exhibit at Chelsea is to promote the importance of tourism to the economy of Barbados, as well as to portray how the amazing beauty of our natural environment is an integral factor in making our island such an attractive place to live or visit. With that goal in mind, the BHS, well supported by the BarbadosTourism Marketing Inc. and other corporate and individual sponsors, has undoubtedly done an outstanding job of spotlighting Barbados to a wide British and international audience. As part of their promotional campaign, the BTMI is offering visitors to the Barbados exhibit a chance to win a 1-week trip for two toBarbados, with accommodation at the elegant Cobblers Cove Hotel in St. Peter.
The strikingly beautiful ‘ComeRelax in Barbados’ display has generated tremendous interest and inspired numerous compliments from the many thousands of people who have visited the stand so far, and the approximately 165,000 who will continue to do so throughout the week. This was particularly evident during Monday’s special opening Celebrity and Royal Family Day. Appearing as our Barbados guest celebrity, the ever popular UK TV chef Ainsley Harriott, a long-term good friend and relative of the country, charmed and entertained all around him, while being interviewed by a steady stream of representatives of the press and media. As always, Ainsley was more than happy to give his personal account of how much he enjoys the many benefits of relaxing and enjoying life in Barbados.
Also in attendance were several distinguished Barbadians, including Mr. Milton Inniss, the Barbados HighCommissioner to London, and Cheryl Carter of the BTMI; as well as Sir Martyn Arbib and Lady Sally Arbib, both loyal supporters of the BHS at Chelsea. Other high profile visitors to the stand included the British celebrity model Jodie Kidd, who has enjoyed an endearing relationship with Barbados as her second home since childhood.
It is impossible for anybody who has never been to the Chelsea Flower Show to fully understand and appreciate just how significant it is that the name of Barbados is so highly regarded at this most famous of British events, which attracts the absolute best of the best in the horticultural world. Suffice it to say that the unparalleled 35-year ongoing success story of the BHS at Chelsea continues to add an invaluable extra dimension to the already good reputation of our country, while also making a hidden but priceless contribution to the economy.
Congratulations the Barbados Horticultural Society.
Well done Barbados!