Chelsea Florist of the year Gold Medal Winning Design by Tracey Griffin


Tracey Griffin Wins Gold at the RHS Chelsea florist of the year competition at Chelsea Flower show

I’m on top of the world and I’m sure I will be for Some time to come.  I was really happy with my designs, and I’m sooooo chuffed to say… so were the judges.

If you’re not familiar with the scoring of competitions I’ll cover that in another post but I required 85 points out of 100 to achieve the Gold and I received 90!

As you may imagine a lot of work went into creating this design, and I thought you may like to see how I created it step by step?!  So here goes…

Firstly let me tell you the schedule

To celebrate the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, design and create a never-ending circle to be on display outside at the centenary concert in Ranelagh Gardens.

The Floral ring should draw inspiration from something or someone associated with Chelsea.  Please produce an A3 portrait PDF detailing your inspiration.  The design is to be a minimum width of 70cm and a maximum of 1m.  The weight is not to exceed 10kg.

So once I’d come up with my design idea I need to consider the frame I would need to make.  The sizes of each frame considering the length of the piece of cornus that would be added to this frame.  I wanted my overall design base to be around 85 – 90cm (ensuring I was making good use space we were allowed to use, but also leaving a little lea-way in case I wanted to looping tenrils to come slight beyond the cornus.


Gold Medal Chelsea Florist of the year Tracey Griffin step by step design

  1. The frame was made from thread wire, and was so light, it was a perfect staring point.  I sprayed it with under coat, and then with a light green paint (a tester pot was the perfect amount. for the frame and ends of the cornus.)
  2. Once the frame was painted I neatly wrapped each part with wool.  A light green kind of close to the green cornus colour, but keeping on the muted side of things – I didn’t want this to stand out or draw the eye!
  3. Then I painted this with matt clear varnish (I had to do the stick over two – three days and had to keep them well hydrated; spraying them with lots of water and wrapping in dry cleaners plastic sheeting.  The last thing I wanted was for the fame to rust and come through the wool, It’s funny how you can get worried certain points… for me this was one of those points.)
  4. I then added the green cornus lengths that I had cut, binding each one to the frame.Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey Griffin
  5. I then added more till the bottom frame layer was entirely covered!
  6. and painted all the ends with paint.  Capping them so it gave a good effect, helped with the prevention of hydration of the stems, and covered any discolouration of stem ends.
  7. All the cornus was then added.I then added circles of cross sections of bamboo (I bought just as you see them.) by carefully gluing them on.
  8. Circles of wire that I’d covered in the same wool as the frame.  (It was inevitable that some parts of the frame would be seen, so by linking the wool with these circles it incorporated it withing the design, linking it through, and adding another different, contrasting texture on top of the cornus.
  9. The last circles to be added were those i’d cut from silver birch bark, a good pair of snips enable me to cut them in a near perfect circle. (I’d bought the Silver birch in large flat squares.)
  10. I continued with more circles, and added Brunia Silver little balls, Scabiosa Stellata, green succulents with a red edge, and some orange contorted willow, the few pieces I had in the garden that were the right colour and not damaged – All of the fresh materials I knew would last with the spraying a covering.
  11. Funky gold and purple pins were added into the ends of some of the cornus at this point, adding to the contrast, and bring the colour that would be incorporated right to the tips of the cornus.
  12. I then flipped over the design and added my three lots of circles and Brunia Silver balls to the back of the design, the back was going to be seen as so needed to be as good (or almost) as the front.  However I was going to transport it laying down so could only add to the back items I knew w0uldn’t get damaged.
  13. Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey GriffinThen I could add the second layer of cornus.  (It was too far ahead of time to add the orchids and other fresh material at this stage, so although the second layer of cornus made adding more to the bottom layer awkward, needs must!
  14. The ends of the stems of the second layer were then painted.Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey Griffin
  15. & on went the top layer of circles, pins on the ends, followed by  Brunia Silver little balls, Scabiosa Stellata,  succulents , and contorted willow.  Ready for the Wednesday morning when the fresh material could be added.Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey Griffin
  16. Many orchid plants were then relieved of there flower heads and put into tepid water for a gooooood drink. I put them into the bath Tuesday night and they had over 12 hours to float and drink.
  17. Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey GriffinSo Wednesday was upon me and I could actually start getting the flowers on! Days of hands on work had led up to this point but now I could actually start putting the vast majority of the  flowers on.Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey Griffin
  18. Feeling green Chrysanth went on first, then, tendril of Clematis montana had their leaves removed (they were gorgeous but wouldn’t have held up, and may have made the design too fussy.)  the clematis were twisted around the layers of the cornus and had Hypericum berries ‘Coco Diablo’ were inserted onto the ends of where the leaves were removed.Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey Griffin
  19. So with cold glue the Phalaenopsis began to be added
  20. and then my Ceropegia woodii had another good hair cut – it always seems to be the same poor plant, the backs of the leaves are such a wonderful colour match though.Chelsea Gold Medal Tracey Griffin
  21. and more orchids added, including the mini green cymbidium orchids, the colours then began to tie up the burgandy of the clematis, with the succulents, and cymdidium throats, and some of the dartker phalanopsis, the peachy Phalaenopsis, coordinated with the silver birch bark and bamboo perfectly, the orange of there throats matching the hypericum, and mini vanda orange magic, still to be added in this image.  the greens of the cornus, chrysanth, and orchids toned through beautifully.  It all started coming together!
  22. So the orange magic vanda orchids were added, and the Ceropegia woodii.
  23. and after a journey to London, a bit of unloading and waiting around (catching up with all of my friends – the fellow competitors.) We had from 9.45pm to 12.45am – three hours to complete the design.
  24. I added more clematis vine with the hypericum on the ends – as this needed to go entirely around the layers and in and out of the back layer I could only do so much as I was worried it would have got damaged when the frame was led down for transporting.
  25. All the different fresh flowers were added to the back of the design, more ceropegia trails were added, and before I knew it the 3 hours were up!

Chelsea Flower show Gold Medal


  1. Tracey thank you so much for sharing the “how it was done” with us. I have often looked at designers work and thought “I wonder how”. It is wonderful to see how you turned your ideas in to such a fabulous design. It is a very complex piece of work, which is lovely to look at. I love your choice of flowers and colours. Adding the beads was a stroke of genius ……………. I love it. Thank you again for sharing, and very well done. All the best for the future Shirley .

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Shirley, and you’re very welcome about me breaking down how it was made, it’s good to be able to share the images and info. I always say there’s no secrets and am more than happy to share my mad-cap ideas. So pleased you like it.

  2. Many thanks, Tracey, for giving all this step by step information. I could see that your design was very complex but was actually unable to get it clear enough to make out the pins, which really finish this very beautiful design off. So delighted for you that you were justly rewarded with your hard-earned gold medal.x

    1. Thanks Sara, as you very well know everything’s easy when you know how! So I’m pleased to be able to pass on the steps. Love sharing information… remind you of anyone ; )

  3. Shirley has said everything that I would have said, a fantastic design & well deserved of a gold – congratulations & thanks for sharing with us. One question did u use two rings or just one with cornus on both sides as you have a good space between layers x

    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for you comment. I used two rings, the space in the frame was 4cm that was before I added the layer of cornus so after that the space was probably nearer 3 – 3.5 cm, plenty of room for the orchid, bamboo and all the other materials. I needed that space and the layering to give depth to the design. So glad you like it Best wishes Tracey

  4. Just one more question, how did you attached the two frames together or where they made as one piece, I’m quite inquisitive as you can see lol I love learning especially when I see something really creative x

  5. Thank you for sharing the step by step details on how you created your design, we can now all appreciate the amount of hard-work you put into your design. However, I don’t think I have the patience to create this myself.

    1. Thanks so much Kay. Oh it’s surprising the lengths you’d go to when aiming for that Gold Medal! All the work,and worry (not to mention aching shoulders after all that binding) have been forgotten now. It’s all worth while… although still not fully sunk in!

  6. an absolutely fabulous design tracey and a very well deserved gold medal. really interesting to see how you put it all together realy inspirational. would be great to see any other of your designs in this step by step format.

    1. Will do Sue, it’s on my to do list. I’m planning on making this website a real source of inspiration as well as the usual, so keep nudging me for more like this Sue… Thanks so much for letting me know it’s a good thing to do.

  7. Dear Tracey

    I loved your design at the Chelsea flower show last week, and congratulations on winning your well deserved Gold Medal. Thank you for explaining so clearly how you made your intricate design, it must have taken you ages but the end result was worth all the hard work, well done and best wishes for the future.

  8. What a great taste in using a beautiful thing to make it even more so ! I clapped after reading your article and I want to express my extreme admiration of your creativity and art .. Keep the good work up … A million congratulations . Bless you ..

    1. Thank you so much, you’re very kind. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it. I’ve got a couple more competitions coming up, another National Florist of the year competition held at Tatton Park, so got to keep the good work up! Thanks again. Tracey

  9. This is amazing, the step by step is brilliant to see. I’m competing in the Interflora florist of future competition at Tatton so is really helpful to see your time scale with the flowers. Thank you very much. I wish you all the best in the future.

    1. Thanks for your comment Gemma. Having done competitions for a few years now, it’s all about the preparation I promise you. I’m at Tatton too, Florist of the Year, but will make sure I look you up. I have to say the flowers amazed me how well they kept going Orchids seem so fragile, but conditioned correctly will keep going, they were still looking fine, near perfect the following Monday, with lots of spraying. Good luck with FOF! see you there 🙂

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