Happy days and memories of wonderful times in her life were the inspiration for Linda Barnett's floral extravaganza in the Town Hall last Sunday.

Almost a year of work and planning, an extraordinary florist's vision and a team of fellow floral art group members bloomed into an amazing show which had the very large audience captivated.

As well as the pressure of creating outstanding designs and constantly interacting with the audience, Linda was under the scrutiny of three judges as the floral theatre was her exam for her demonstrating unit, module three.

"I couldn't practise what I'm doing, I've had to create a mental picture instead," Linda said. "I can't afford to buy flowers for trial runs and, to be honest, I'd never repeat the same design twice."


For her first design Linda called on the memories of lighting a fire outside as a child, with her sister, Jocelyn, and having a "big fry-up".

Black flax became the clagging stick, artemisia the grey smoke and bright orange and yellow flowers brought the design to life.

Adding to the theatre was the "smoke" which swirled from under the design, complete with a frying pan of eggs, with their whites created from carnations and the yolks from lemons, crispy bacon, chips and tomatoes. Only the tomatoes were real, the rest were created from plant material.

But, unlike those hazy, lazy days of summer, Linda had been out collecting plant material in the rain.

"I looked like a drowned rat," she said.

Preparation and planning for her floral theatre had meant Linda also had to call on the goodwill of husband Ken.

"Normally I have one bay of his farm shed for my floral work, but this time I had to commandeer three," she said.

This was Linda's second floral theatre, the first Passion and Pearls, was six years ago, but it will be her last.

"This is too hard on the heart," she said.

Making hokey pokey as a child, when failures went to feed the ducks and hens, was inspiration for another creation which put builder's expanding foam to a different use, along with chicken netting and barley straw.

Other designs included Linda's nod to a girl guide camp, her love of tennis, with Hannah Crosse performing on stage in a 1950s tennis outfit complete with an original wooden racket, dancing, falling in love and marriage. Even the wedding dress, from the Salvation Army, was adorned with flowers and cut mesh train.

Despite running over time, with the presentation taking one and a half hours, Linda was delighted to learn she had passed her exam.

And her next job?

Putting on her waders and clearing out the duck pond at her rural home at Maharahara.