Memories of the World Flower Show Dublin June 2014
by Margaret Kingston
Five years ago AOIFA the Association of Irish Floral Artists, a voluntary organisation of people who love flowers and gardening, made a bid to WAFA the World Association of Flower Arrangers to hold the 11th World Flower Show in Dublin in 2014 and was successful.
Then in 2011 the host city Boston handed over to Ireland.
So I have been living with this excitement for quite a while! I was thrilled when I was accepted to compete and then of course a little trepidation took over when reality registered. The class I was given was ‘Verdant Bower’, an exhibit featuring foliage.
Interpretation is the key in competitive flower arranging so I immediately reached for the thesaurus which informed me that a bower was a shady enclosure or recess in the garden, an arbour and of course verdant means green. I prayed for guidance and was inspired both by the amazing ‘tree tunnel’ of self sown beech trees on the way up to the statue of Christ the King in the beautiful Glen of Aherlow where we are so blessed to live and our own garden in Glencush. One day in the garden I found myself in front of a stone plaque which read,
‘The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Then anywhere else on earth’
a verse from God’s Garden by Dorothy Frances Gurney, English poet and hymn writer, written just 100 years ago. I knew immediately I would create my design with greenery from the garden and use no flowers whatsoever. The design changed a lot from the original.
I have a feeling God is very familiar with the elements and principles of design! The sitting room was converted into a flower studio complete with a replica of the stand for the show very kindly constructed by my encouraging and patient husband who gave much needed advice on the ‘mechanics’.
The trip to Dublin in 24 degrees of heat with the car windows open to keep the foliage from wilting was quite a challenge.
At last 18th June arrived. We were allotted six hours 6.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. to create the exhibit. There were 690 competitors from 31 countries present and my abiding memory will be the almost total silence in the two exhibition halls as each competitor concentrated and focused on their creation. I worked according to my own time schedule and had decided I was not going to be distracted or take any notice of the other 23 competitors in the ‘Verdant Bower’ class until I was finished. It was quite exciting to have a competitor from New Zealand on one side and a competitor from Canada on the other.
When I had finished I was happy with my interpretation and my father’s words rang in my ears ‘Do your best and you can’t do anymore’. I had done my best and was proud of it.
That evening the 11th World Flower Show was officially opened by President Higgins who gave a most enlightening address on the history of the fuschia flower which had been chosen as the emblem of this Floral Odyssey in Dublin.
Then the moment all the competitors had been waiting for the Preview when we were allowed into the exhibition halls. As I approached my area I could see a large crowd at my exhibit. It didn’t register with me why until I saw the first prize rosette sitting on my stand. The excitement was unreal especially when we realised Ireland had won first, second and third prizes in this class demonstrating to the world that we really do live in a verdant isle.
Thousands of visitors over the next four days made their way to the RDS to view the exhibits, attend demonstrations and lectures. I really enjoyed meeting so many people from all over the world all sharing their love of flowers truly reflecting the aim of AOIFA which is friendship through flowers.
On reflection now that all the excitement has evaporated I found the whole experience both wonderful and humbling, giving me renewed admiration and awe for God our wonderful Creator who provided all the superb flowers and foliage from all over the world to create such a breathtaking and stunning exhibition and who provided ‘all my needs’ from our garden, the place I feel more close to Him than anywhere else on earth.