White Garden, the florists in Hart St, have won this year’s Christmas Window Display Competition for their interpretation of ‘The Snow Queen’. Their festive floral arrangement was inspired by the 2002 film starring Bridget Fonda, based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.
The theme for the 2018 Christmas Window Display Competition, organised by Delegate Office & Conference Services, was ‘The Greatest Snowman’. As well as showcasing their trade, the contest asked entrants to feature a theme from a Christmas film of their choice, and to include a decorated snowman in their display.
Using a Snow Queen mannequin as their centrepiece, the White Garden window was bright with Christmas lights and bursting with winter flowers. The display was crafted by shop owner, Annette March, and manager, Alice Murphy, over the course of three days. “We started with the base foundation of cleaning the window out and making sure it was super clean to start off with. Then we assembled a lot of trees for the background and put all the lights in,” detailed Annette. “We followed that by making the wings for the angel and putting the mannequin in situ. Mannequins aren’t the easiest to put in so we did that first, and I created the wings out of some chicken wire and artificial flowers that we sell in the shop. Then from there we worked around that and built around her as the main focus, because apparently she reigns once a year, which is the tagline we have in the window. It had to be focused around her so all the objects we put in were around that.” The combination of real and artificial flowers that make up the display are all sold within the shop, along with the snowman they used.
The window was also inspired by the idyllic winter wonderland scenes of the countryside. “When you go through Hambleden and some of the villages we drive through delivering,” Annette explained, “it’s like that winter white scene with the twigs above your head that are covered in snow. That whole winter picture postcard look that you get around here inspired it.” White Garden have taken part in the contest before, having previously come second and third, but this was their first time claiming the victory. “We’re ecstatic!” exclaimed Annette. “I’ve been running the shop for seven years in this town now, so it’s really nice to be part of it and join a competition like this and win. We’ve both worked very hard so it’s lovely to have it rewarded.”
For their efforts, the White Garden team were presented with a trophy, a certificate, £125 and a bottle of champagne by the judging panel: Deputy Mayor Ken Arlett and Dorothy Arlett, estate agent Phil Booth, Henley Living Advent Calendar founder Richard Rodway, and councillor Helen Barnett.
With 17 participants this year, the competition for prizes was steep. Second place was awarded to Berries Coffee Shop, in Hart St, for their take on the Muppet’s ‘Christmas Carol’. Thames Hospice came in third for their ‘Elf’ display, whilst The Kiln Ceramic Cafe claimed fourth for their ‘Santa Clause’ display. Each runner up received a bottle of champagne, along with £100, £75 and £50 respectively.
The competition is sponsored and supported by Delegate, Milton Gordon & Co financial advisers, The Head Partnership solicitors, Philip Booth Esq estate agents and Henley Town Council. Phil Booth, of Philip Booth Esq estate agents, is a new sponsor and addition to the judging team this year. “I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s amazing how much effort people have put into it. It’s easy just to walk by, but when you’re studying them you realise what a huge effort there has been.”
Alex Nearchou, from competition organisers Delegate Office & Conference Services, said, ”We had quite a good turnout this year. There were lots of Christmassy things and they all did really well. I’d say it was one of the best years, and it was a good theme as well — people really got into it. It was nice to see all the snowmen, and all the different varieties on the snowmen, but not many people actually chose the film, The Snowman, which was good. There was lots of imagination.”
Describing how they settled on a winner, Dorothy Arlett said, “I think it has won because it’s very authentic, absolutely beautiful, very sparkly, very Christmassy, and really lovely. As for all the others, there were probably about four that I would have as first, and about five I would have as second. It was a really tough competition. People put a wonderful amount of effort in, and we loved it really.”
The Christmas window displays can be seen throughout the town at White Garden, Berries, Thames Hospice, The Kiln Cafe, Frost Borneo, The Vintage Look, Bell Street Bookshop, Henley Pet Shop, VH & Co, Candela, Sue Ryder, White Stuff, Biggie Best, Dorata hairdressers, Snappy Snaps, Crew Clothing and the Regal Picturehouse. Congratulations to all who took part for making the town feel decidedly more festive!