Birmingham City Council’s entry to the Chelsea Flower Show this year focuses on the celebration of the genius of Brummie artist Willard Wigan and of grass roots sport.

Usain Bolt’s trainers packed up and on their way to Chelsea

Barring interruptions by wars, the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London have been hosting the prestigious event since 1913. The Chelsea flower show is a showcase of beauty, creativity, education, excitement, inspiration, a place where simplicity and extravagance can go hand-in-hand and we love it.

Birmingham City Council’s gold winning parks’ team – which include staff from Cofton Nursery in Longbridge – are aiming to win Gold for the fifth consecutive year, this to add to the 21 Golds they won during the 70s and 80s.

Cofton Nurseries have played a huge part in the cities impressive history and success at the Chelsea Flower Show, and it looks set to continue with an exciting and the inspirational display.

CFS3‘One Small Step’ takes inspiration from the brilliance of Willard’s tiny sculptures, many of which sit in the eye of a needle and have to be viewed through a microscope. It also highlights Birmingham’s commitment to encourages ways to be more active – from activities such as football, boxing, running, kayaking, cricket and many more.

The display itself will be located in the Grand Pavilion (GPD/156), it’s a 10m x 10m island and is split into several elements.

Element 1 – The Needles 

  • The centre piece of the display is a five metre tall needle with two other needles stretching across the display.
  • One has water pouring around the eye and the other has a planted line of hardy Gerbera running down the middle.
  • The third needle holds a carpet bedded punch ball and pair of wicker boxing gloves.

Element 2 – Activity

  • At the top of the central needle is a wicker recreation of one of Willard’s artworks – two small children playing on a see saw.
  • A hummingbird will be in a group of metal birds to represent walking in your local park.

Element 3 – Sport

  • A number of sports will be showcased here including Park Run and Couch to 5k training packages, which Birmingham City Council offers free to Birmingham residents as part of the Active Parks programme.
  • There are also references to the Hole Farm Trekking centre in Woodgate Valley Country Park and the Pat Benson Boxing academy, renamed after its most successful trainer Pat in 2011 just after Pat was named BBCWM Unsung Hero Award.

CFS8Willard Wigan said: “Birmingham has always proudly represented me and I’ve always been proud to represent Birmingham. It is an honour and a pleasure to be involved in Birmingham’s display at Chelsea. We tend to disregard the little things that we can’t see but my sculptures have a very big impact and I am looking forward to seeing how they will work in this design.”

Constructing the ‘One Small Step’ display

Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, added: “This year’s entry celebrates the work of local artist Willard Wigan and grass root sport with giant needle structures, a beautiful water feature and plenty of flowers and structural plants, grown in the city’s nurseries and hot house.

CFS4“’One Small Step’ is completely sponsored by residents, local businesses and companies with an interest in Birmingham.  Thanks to their generosity we can continue to wow at Chelsea with another jaw dropping display. “

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show starts Tuesday 24th and finishes Saturday 28th May.

If you are not fortunate enough to attend the Chelsea flower show, worry not, the display will be recreated in Cannon Hill Park and an exhibition of the road to Chelsea alongside 15 pieces of Willard’s work will be on display in the Midland Arts Centre throughout June.


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