May is a particularly celebratory time for flowers in London as RHS Chelsea prepares to sweep the city, inspiring a flurry of horticultural happenings - not least Chelsea in Bloom. The annual floral art show promises to be more jubilant than ever, with this year’s theme paying homage to British icons. Hayford & Rhodes are delighted to be bringing its signature creative flair to Italian restaurant, Polpo for the third year running - with it’s most ambitious and innovative design yet.

Previous years have seen the team create a mesmerising octopus in 2019 followed by a gondola in 2021. Join us as we delve behind the scenes with Managing Director Joanna Rhodes to find out what we can expect from this year’s spectacular competition entry…

Hi Jo, thank you for joining us. We know you’re very busy constructing this year’s design as we speak! Tell us how working with Polpo came about?

We have been taking part in Chelsea in Bloom for 5 years. It was actually in 2017 when we created a Savannah Sunset for King’s Road opticians, Tom Davies. Polpo approached us and we’re delighted to be creating their third Chelsea in Bloom design!

What has the journey been to creating this year’s installation?

The Chelsea in Bloom theme for 2022 is British icons and we knew we wanted to bring back the extraordinary octopus from 2019 (Polpo’s emblem) so the challenge was to successfully combine the two together. Whilst discussing ideas, we hit upon a lightbulb moment when Shannon - our Creative Lead suggested we pay tribute to the comedy caper classic, The Italian Job.

As well as a floral extravaganza, we know some fabulous props are going to feature…

Absolutely - we will be paying homage to The Italian Job by having Michael (named after the film’s star Sir Michael Caine) the octopus driving a classic Mini! In keeping with our sea creature the car will even be riding the crest of a floral wave. The beautiful motor is being provided by smallcarBIGCITY who have an extraordinary fleet of the iconic vehicles. The Mini (affectionately know as Jules) featuring in our display was actually the first in the founders collection. The framework of Michael himself has been months in the making - intricately crafted by metal worker extraordinaire Julian Carter

Barney & Tom Studios

And last but not least, the flowers! Which blooms star in the installation?

Chelsea in Bloom is all about the brilliant and bold so it was essential for the flower selection to be vibrant as well as textural to really bring Michael to life. The underside of the octopus will be made up of dried red broom and wonderfully velvety hot pink celosia. Bright yellow craspedia will be added for detail along the tentacles, while the main body of the creature will be created from three shades of purple carnation, arranged in marbling effect. Finally - the wave that the Mini will be riding is a combination gypsophilia and carnations.

To see Michael the octopus and other works of floral arts, Chelsea in Bloom takes place May 24th - Saturday 28th.


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