A pair of St Albans florists are “over the moon” after winning first prize at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for their floral depiction of Marilyn Monroe.

Nicola Costain, 24, of Colney Heath, and Hannah Williams, 20, of Wick Avenue, Wheathampstead, were awarded the gold medal at Sunday’s event.

Ms Costain, who has been a florist for ten years, said she burst into tears when she heard the news.

She said: “I was absolutely beside myself. The competition was very high.”

The florists and their teammates from The Academy of Floristry in Poole, Bournemouth, where they are currently honing their skills, had been preparing for three weeks.

Ms Williams, who works at Perfect Moment florist in Marshalswick, said: “We got there at about eight in the morning and left at about eight, so we were there for about 12 hours.

“The Academy competed the previous year and got the silver. I think in some ways it pushed us to want to reach the next step.”

Ms Costain was working at Petals florist in Berkhamstead High Street when she received the good news after a tense 48 hour wait for the judges’ decision.

She said: “It felt like a lifetime but it was worth waiting for. I burst into tears. I was really pleased.

“I didn’t believe I could do something like this. I feel very uplifted and happy and proud. We worked really hard, and all of the team are so talented.”

Ms Williams said: “It was an incredible experience, because it was hard work and you’re pushed to your limits, but the sense of achievement makes it really worth it.”

Ms Costain said the idea of a Marilyn Monroe inspired flower arrangement came from Hampton Court’s brief that called for 1950s themed entries.

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She said: “We had a film set of her with film, cameras and paparazzi, and based her pose on the famous scene from the film The Seven Year Itch.

“We wanted it to be quite eye-catching, so we kept the set in black and white.”

The flowers were sponsored by a Dutch company and include lilies with 200 petals and ‘Norma Jean’ scented white roses that share the Hollywood starlet’s birth name.

With the competition over, Ms Costain hopes to finish her course and then work in London or open a florist in St Albans.

She said: “I would like to be known as something unusual and stand out from the crowd.”