The early birds arrived at 5am and by 7am, 550 floristry students and tutors packed out New Covent Garden Flower Market for a morning of education, information and fun, sponsored by ECT Travel (www.ecttravel.com).
Sundries traders were run off their feet from 6am until the last student left at 12noon, as students swarmed upon the colossal range of toolkit essentials on show.
After hours of buying, designing, costing and creating, teams of Level 3 and 4 students submitted their entries for the College Day Competition and inspection by the UK Floristry Judges Guild. Judges Tracey Tomlinson and Frances Fenwick were thrilled with the quality of the designs and the choice of seasonal materials as students rose to the brief of creating "a romantic heart hanging design for a woodland wedding" with a purchasing budget of just £30.
And the winners were……
The Level 3 competition was a tightly fought contest with joint second places going to Plumpton College and Chichester College, and joint first places awarded to teams from Writtle College and East Surrey College.
East Surrey College, Level 3 joint winner
Writtle College, Level 3 joint winner
Equally close was the Level 4 competition with third place awarded to Plumpton College, second place to Covent Garden Academy of Flowers and the first place going to the Academy of Floral Art. Just one point separated the top two colleges.
Academy of Floral Art, Level 4 winner
Buying Expertise from Flower Market Florists
Level 2 students were treated to the insiders' guide to buying at the Flower Market with a talk by expert buyersLeonie Bear of Pinstripes and Peonies [www.pinstripesandpeonies.com] and Maureen Furey of Fiori Flowers [www.bellafiori.co.uk] covering everything from how to pick the freshest and best flowers for a job to how to talk prices and even handle Market banter!
The Deputy Show Manager of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Sarah Easter, was on hand to congratulate the winners of the RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year and Young Florist of the Year competition heats held in the Flower Market the same morning.
The Jane Packer Flowers demonstration
The morning was rounded off in style by a fantastic demonstration of the art of the hand-tie by Susan Lapworth, Creative Director of Jane Packer Flowers, the company behind the Victory Bouquet at this year's Olympic Games, and the world's leading floristry brand. Susan talked about the legacy to the worlds of floristry and interior decoration of the late Jane Packer, who inspired a generation of florists and launched countless florists' careers through the famous Jane Packer Career Course.
Jane Packer Flowers Victory Bouquet
The Flower Market College Day is one of the most popular dates in the Flower Market Calendar, and gives students a unique insight into the workings of the UK's largest Flower Market.
Says Sue Lee of Houghall College in East Durham: "My students had a thoroughly enjoyable day, beaming from ear to ear all the way home, from the buzz they experienced at the Market."
A view echoed by Hannah Caley of Canterbury College: "Many thanks for organising such a great day. The students had a fantastic time and all had lots of positive feedback about the day. We look forward to next year’s event!"
Crowds of floristry students at the College Day
The Jane Packer Foundation
The Jane Packer Foundation has been set up in her memory of the world-famous Jane Packer, who sadly passed away in November 2011. Its aim is to establish a research facility in the UK for neurological diseases and support the staff at the St John's Hospice, London. To find out more or to make a donation visit http://www.jane-packer.co.uk/UK/janepackerfoundation.html