Sheffield floral designers’ talents set to bloom at Chelsea show

Sue Smith (l) and Jo Marshall, of Valerie of Dore, are representing the Sheffield Floral Club at Chelsea Flower Show. Picture: Andrew Roe
Sue Smith (l) and Jo Marshall, of Valerie of Dore, are representing the Sheffield Floral Club at Chelsea Flower Show. Picture: Andrew Roe
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It’s every florist’s dream to be invited to compete at the Chelsea Flower Show - the premier date on the horticultural calendar.

So when Jo Marshall and Sue Smith, from Valerie of Dore, received the news that they were wanted to represent the Sheffield Floral Club at the event next week, they were thrilled to say the least.

“This is probably a once in a lifetime thing that we will both ever do,” said Jo, who has run the flower shop on Dore’s High Street for more than 10 years.

“I don’t imagine that we’ll ever get asked again. You hear about people having items to tick off on a bucket list - well, this is it for me!”

Jo and Sue will be taking part in the floral competitions in the show’s Great Pavilion, and will be setting off for the capital this weekend to spend all night on Sunday through to Monday morning arranging a display in the huge marquee.

They need to impress the judges with their skills and expertise by interpreting the theme of ‘Reflections’ in the form of a floral design.

“We’re trying to make it look like a pond with twigs coming out of the design, Calla lilies, stones and moss reflecting back into the water,” said Jo.

“The size we have to work on is a circular plinth 1.25 metres wide and 1.7 metres high, so it’s quite big.

“It’s a huge honour to be able to do this, so we need to get the design right for Chelsea - it has to fit the occasion.”

Last year Sue won a gold medal at the Southport Show, while Jo exhibited at the Flowers at Oxford extravaganza last year - which all helped to convince the committee they were right for Chelsea, which is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday.

“We’ve been preparing our design and our flowers are ordered,” Jo added.

“It’s a bit scary but we’re ready to go.”

They will work on their design in the marquee from 10pm on Sunday to 6am on Monday.

“We’ll need matchsticks to keep our eyes open, a sugar rush to get through it and I’ll definitely feel like a gin and tonic afterwards,” Jo laughed.

And as her stewardship of the Dore shop enters its 11th year, Jo said things ‘couldn’t be better’.

“It’s wonderful, the people of the village have accepted us and I think they realise we have got some talent. Trade is up and down - you get your peaks like Mother’s Day - but it’s just about encouraging people to treat themselves. When a recession happens one of the first things to go is the gift items.

“But I’m just enjoying every moment of it.”