Milton Keynes Social Enterprise wins Bronze Medal at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

Award in the Floral Art and Floristry competition won by adults with learning differences and autism

Friday, 24th September 2021, 7:49 am
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 7:50 am

Everything is coming up roses for a Milton Keynes social enterprise which has won a bronze award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021.

The award was won by Branch Out MK CIC, a group based in Stony Stratford which works with adults with learning differences and autism to grow flowers in a sustainable manner without pesticides or peat and then uses those flowers to create sustainable bridal flowers, farewell tributes and hand tied bouquets.

The display was designed and created by Theresa Wedderburn from flowers grown and dried by Branch Out’s community of adults with learning differences and autism, winning the medal in the Floral Art and Floristry competition.

Theresa is pictured being congratulated by the judges, and the UK's finest floral designers including from left, Shane Connolly, Simon Lycett and Jonathan Moseley. Photo by Karen Parker

Theresa, director, Branch Out MK CIC, said: “We entered the competition because I wanted to educate people about our social enterprise and to highlight that everyone in society can be involved and contribute to a rich and vibrant community.

"We were obviously delighted to be selected out of hundreds of submissions to create a floral window display for the Chelsea Flower Show, and then winning a bronze was amazing.

"I’m not a formerly trained florist so it was pretty nerve wracking having the very best of UK florists judge our work. We lost points for not being technically accurate, but the judges absolutely loved our creativity and it seemed to be a firm public favourite."

The eco-friendly display is made entirely of MK grown (not flown) flowers and works in harmony with nature, avoiding chemicals, paints, dyes and plastics. The papier-mâché skull is made from paper with almond and potato starch glue and the seasonal flowers and foliage are grown peat free and preserved naturally before being used to form a skull surrounded by insects.

A close up of some of the floral creations featured in the display

Theresa added: “My inspiration for the display was ‘Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it’ which is a quote by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The exhibit captures fleeting moments of life, preserved in time and is based on my interpretation of preserved flowers.

"These are often seen as dead and only good for composting, but in fact seed heads and dying flowers are rich habitats for overwintering insects so therefore help to nurture new life. When preparing your garden for winter, don’t make it too tidy.”

The display will be available to view until the show closes on Sunday, September 26, and then at Branch Out MK CIC’s shop in York House Centre, Stony Stratford.