Vietnamese Expatriate Claims Top Award at Chelsea Flower Show 2023

For over a century, the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show has been a beacon of horticultural excellence, originating from its start in 1913 on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. Drawing in visitors and exhibitors from around the world, this prestigious event is one of the most significant flower shows of its kind.

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First Vietnamese Expat to Win High Prize at Chelsea Flower Show 2023
“Dance of Light” work designed by Cao Thi Huyen wins the silver award in the floral design category at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Photo courtesy of the designer

Designer Cao Thi Huyen (Rose Cao), a Serbian overseas Vietnamese, has recently become the first Vietnamese to win a prize at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023. The Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious annual flower exhibition in the world, hosted by the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). According to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), Cao Thi Huyen’s success at the show marks a significant milestone for the overseas Vietnamese community.

Huyen was awarded the silver prize in the floral design category for her work entitled “Dance of Light”. She said that her design portrays a flame-like image, composed of a range of purple and yellow-hued flowers to generate a natural light that seemingly shines on the flower lamppost. Furthermore, her design also adheres to the show criteria of sustainability and environmental friendliness as she did not use any plastic.

To be able to attend the highly-anticipated event, which is considered the final round of flower designers in the world, it took Huyen six months to prepare and submit the design for approval by the exhibition organizers. At the exhibition, the winners of the floral design category must pass the judgment of 50 judges.

Huyen exclaimed that the award was a testament to her persistent efforts. She was elated to have the opportunity to introduce the floral art of a Vietnamese designer to British flower enthusiasts. Additionally, she wishes the award will motivate Vietnamese floral designers to reach the same level as the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.

After months of hard work and preparation for the Chelsea Flower Show, from the initial stage of ideation and sketching to creating a portfolio for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the implementation of construction plans for three days at the Great Pavilion, the process was both lengthy and challenging; yet, I enjoyed every step of the journey.

There were a few surprises for me on the first day of construction and, since I was not based in London, I couldn’t manage to change the situation in time. Consequently, I found myself in a passive position, feeling quite confused and under pressure at the same time. However, I’m very grateful to the friends on the showground who supported me,” Huyen wrote on her Facebook page.

Yesterday, my design received a silver medal rating, a form of recognition for my efforts with the support of those who brought me to this exhibition. It was a truly humbling experience that I am sure I won’t forget for a long time.

From May 23-27, the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London will be hosting an event that will bring together nearly 300 of the leading UK and international companies, garden designers, and florists.

Designer Cao Thi Huyen wins the silver award in the floral design category at  the Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Photo courtesy of the designer
Designer Cao Thi Huyen wins the silver award in the floral design category at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Photo courtesy of the designer

This year’s exhibition is set to be bigger and better than ever before, with more than 100 garden and flower designs and 270 booths showcasing horticultural products. It’s estimated that 200,000 visitors will come to enjoy the show.

Held annually since 1913, the Chelsea Flower Show is the UK’s most prestigious flower exhibition, considered a “fashion exhibition” and “world cup” by international gardeners. It’s a major event on the British social calendar, drawing crowds from across the globe who come to admire the incredible displays of floral artwork and innovative garden designs. For many, it’s seen as a chance to find inspiration for their own gardens, and the show includes plenty of opportunities to purchase plants, tools and other gardening-related items. Every year, the show features a range of awards and prizes, with the coveted Best in Show going to the most creative and inspiring garden design.

Garden aficionados are eagerly preparing for the world’s premier flower shows, which promise awe-inspiring floral designs and cutting-edge garden displays.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a popular destination for members of the British Royal Family, celebrities, and both professional and amateur gardeners. The late Queen Elizabeth II was a regular attendee of the show, with over 50 visits throughout her lifetime.

The UK’s King and Queen, along with The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra, attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It was a delightful occasion, full of beauty and joy.

Hannah Nguyen