Sri Lanka going for a hat-trick gold medal at Chelsea flower show?

By Hiranthi Fernando

Sri Lankan company Borneo Exotics will be back at London’s Chelsea Flower Show in the last week of May. After winning a coveted Gold Medal in 2006 and 2007, Borneo Exotics took a well earned rest and declined invitations from the Royal Horticultural Society to exhibit in the following two years. Now however, they are back, in what may be their final entry into the world’s most prestigious flower show which draws over 300,000 visitors in its six-days.

Borneo Exotics Managing Director, Robert Cantley, points out that staging a near perfect exhibit with bare-rooted plants at such a distance is fraught with difficulties. “So many things can go wrong,” he says. “Apart from the artistic challenge of exhibiting the plants to their best advantage, just getting them there in perfect order is enormously challenging. Everyone just expects us to be able to do it again and win a Gold Medal, or maybe even a special Annual Award as we have in the past. We have created many beautiful hybrids the world has never seen before and they look perfect in our nurseries right now but it’s how they will look in London on the day of judging that matters.”

When asked why this may be their last appearance, Robert explained that it’s an expensive undertaking and demands the full resources of the company for many weeks to prepare. “It’s a logistical nightmare really, exhausting and nerve-wracking until the moment everything is in place and the Queen has visited and given us the once-over,” says Robert.

“However, we always enjoy staging the exhibit and hope that we can help show the world that Sri Lanka can compete with the best in the horticultural world.” He added that they are grateful for the encouragement and support they always receive from various government departments.

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