by Keith Miller
For the 19th time, the Barbados Horticultural Society has won a Gold Great Pavilion Award at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London. This year, the Society chose the theme ‘Where Rum Comes From’ for its exhibit.
To recreate the island’s natural beauty with a floral representation of a rum still in action, the team travelled with over 70 large shipping boxes, carefully packed with a vast array of colourful blooms and foliage of all hues, shapes, sizes, and textures. The magnificent collection included classic Caribbean favourites such as Heliconias, Anthuriums, Torch Gingers, Bromeliads, Ornamental Pineapples, Banana Flowers, and Orchids; fascinating varieties of indigenous Palms, Ferns, Succulents and Sugar Cane.
Pride of place amongst the display belongs to a new Tulip Torch Ginger, Etlingera hemispherica ‘Flower Forest’, named after the Flower Forest Botanical Gardens where it was propagated. Officially registered with the Heliconia Society International, it is a hybrid cross-pollination between two torch gingers, the mother being Etlingera hemispherica, the father undetermined. This was the first time that the new flower had ever been seen outside Barbados. Many observers were also intrigued by the rare ‘Wood Roses’ draped along a length of copper tubing, designed to represent the still.
To give authenticity to the exhibit, the team brought with them actual rum barrels, sacks of raw Bajan sugar and cane baskets. And, to add some extra flair, they included three giant cocktail glasses containing rum punch, pina colada, and banana daiquiri, all of which fascinated the tens of thousands of people visiting the Barbados stand.
The BHS’ Gold Medal success this year is the latest in a spectacularly successful record of a total of 19 Gold Medals, 11 Silver-Gilt and one Silver during a remarkable sequence of 31 consecutive years at the Chelsea Flower Show. A Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious accolade in the horticultural world.
A secondary role of the BHS exhibit at Chelsea is to promote the importance of tourism to the economy and lifestyle of Barbados, and to portray how the amazing beauty of our natural environment makes our island such an attractive place to live or visit.
The beautiful and striking Barbados – Where Rum Comes From 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.
The working team at Chelsea this year comprises Jenny Weetch, Trevor Inniss, Wayne Ramsey, Jacqui Ferdinand, John Leach, Sally Miller, Julie Alleyne, Trevor Hunte and Peter Whitehouse, with Keith Miller giving support with PR and media work. In addition, there is a small army of other volunteers, headed up by Shirley Anne Howell, who do diligent work behind the scenes throughout the year.
The BHS is supported by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Virgin Atlantic and other corporate and individual sponsors.
(photos by Keith Miller: email@example.com)