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Multi-award winning flower arranger will be back at Chelsea Flower Show for tenth year next week

PUBLISHED: 12:58 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:09 17 May 2017

Sheila Adby's gold winning display in 2008

Sheila Adby's gold winning display in 2008

Archant

Sheila Adby has won a medal every year, except one, that she's competed

2015's gold medal winning display by Ms Adby2015's gold medal winning display by Ms Adby

One of the world’s most prestigious garden shows - Chelsea Flower Show - is back next week, again inspiring millions through showcasing award-winning garden designs.

Orpington secretary, and multi-award winning flower arranger, Sheila Adby will be competing at Chelsea for the 10th time this year.

She said: “I exhibit in the floral design competition. My first year of competing in 2008 was very nerve wracking as I didn’t know what to expect. I represented Orpington Floral Art Society and won a gold medal for my design.

“Since then I have either represented them or competed under my own name, which is what I’m doing this year. I have won another gold medal, one silver gilt medal, two silver medals, and three bronze.

The design she won silver for in 2016The design she won silver for in 2016

“There is something very special about Chelsea Flower Show and although it is stressful competing, I also enjoy it and get very excited about entering. I’m thrilled that I have been lucky enough to have been given a place each year I’ve applied.”

Applying for a place at the garden show isn’t a simple process, and a panel decides who does and doesn’t get a place.

Ms Adby explains: “The schedule comes out in the winter and offers two classes for flower clubs, and two for individuals. It gives the titles of the classes and dimensions, and then you have to submit photos of previous designs that you’ve done and a panel then decides who to offer a place to.

“They notify people in January or February and then it’s a case of coming up with a design to interpret the title. Once I’ve got my design planned I tend to live with a mock up of it in my lounge for a couple of months as I experiment with different plant materials in order to get the right effect. I have known some sleepless nights in the process.”

Setting up the exhibit can take all night, a process Ms Adby is very familiar with.
She said: “We set up overnight - beginning around 10pm and finish by 6am the next day - I find it tough working through the night as tiredness starts to kick in around 3am.

“But it’s a very friendly atmosphere and I often know several people there which is great and makes it a good experience. Everyone is very helpful. The evening starts off with quite a buzz and the adrenaline gets pumping, then around midnight the marquee is a lot quieter with everyone concentrating on getting their designs made.

“It is quite surreal in the early hours being at Chelsea with a handful of people and watching the sun come up.

“Maybe because I’ve done this before, at the moment, I’m feeling quite relaxed and excited. My design is ready and my flowers have been ordered. I know however, that nerves will kick in the closer I get to the set up day.”

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