Everything came up roses for Brightons mum Claire Bishop when she landed a top judging job at this week’s world-famous Chelsea Flower Show.
Claire (42) is an expert in producing spectacular displays for the flagship Edinburgh branch of garden centre chain Dobbies, but until now has never had the chance to visit – let alone judge – the fabulous
But her experience made her a natural for the role, which will see her judging trade stands where gardening firms have been set the challenge of creating spectacular displays without looking anything like a shop – no fixtures and fittings are allowed.
Claire has worked for Dobbie’s for five years, but was a florist and horticulturist before that – following in the footsteps of her mum, May Begg, who although now retired used to run a florist’s shop in Larbert.
Now she’s set for a career highlight that will also double as the trip of a lifetime.
Meanwhile, as if the Chelsea event were not glamorous enough, Claire will be there on the day when the Queen pays a visit.
“I might have to ask her to move out of the way so I can get a clear view of the exhibits I’ll be judging!”, she joked.
It’s just possible she may be exchanging gardening tips with Her Majesty during the VIP Day itinerary – but as a key member of the judging panel in the trade section of the event most of her time will be focussed squarely on the exhibits.
Claire said: “There are criteria that will be judged on a technical level, but beyond that as a judge you’re obviously looking for that extra factor that makes a diplay into a winner – it’s exactly what we spend so much time and effort trying to perfect at Dobbie’s.”
She added: “It’s going to be a very busy trip, but besides enjoying the show myself there’s also time on the last day to see some of the sights and enjoy London.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Chelsea Flower Show and being asked to help judge it is just fantastic – I can’t wait to get started.”
Claire’s five year old son Evan is a keen gardener too, but because the trip will be so work-intensive he won’t be going along – but will be proud his mum has won such a prestigious assignment.
“I’ve been telling him it’s ‘just work’,” said Claire, “but I think he’ll be pleased when he finds I’ve been judging at a top show.”