When did you start your floristry school?
In 2001. I had taught at Richmond College for fourteen years and was exhausted by the paperwork – at which I’m useless – so when the opportunity arose to take on the premises in London, I didn’t hesitate.
It was my chance to leave the theory behind and concentrate on practical work.
Where is the school based?
We are in a gorgeous flower-filled Edwardian mews, moments from the hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge in central London.
As students walk into the calm of the school, their shoulders visibly relax – which is why I always say that doctors should prescribe my courses!
What type of courses do you offer?
We offer an enormous variety of accredited courses in floristry and flower arranging. There is something to suit all tastes, timetables and budgets.
Topics include Seasonal Flowers, Wedding Flowers, Parties and Events, and Church decorating.
We have Saturday and evening classes, and for those seeking a qualification, we offer a Floral Design Diploma and The Business of Floristry two-week course which is, as the name suggests, ideal for anyone planning to change career.
We also offer guided tours of New Covent Garden Flower Market, which has a wonderful selection of flowers, foliage, sundries and containers.
I understand that you are writing a new book. Could you tell us more about it?
Step-by-Step Flower Arranging, which is to be published by The Flower Press, is a beginners’ guide to floral design.
I hope it will enable aspiring arrangers to achieve success and satisfaction with every design they tackle.
It’s jam-packed with pictures, ideas and design tips that are easy-to-follow, and will, I hope, inspire. Chapters include classic design, contemporary design, mechanics, the elements and principles of design, and wedding work.
The latter was inspired by all of the plucky brides who are opting to do their own flowers with the help of friends and family.
The book also includes an A to Z guide for buying and caring for your plant material, which is the ultimate answer to all of my students’ questions on this subject – it’s something that makes people really nervous.
And here are some beautiful images from the book which will be available in the early summer:
What are your plans for 2012?
I thought that last year was busy, but 2012 is even more hectic!
I’m working on a fabulous range of preserved flowers, which is tremendously exciting. We’ve called it Savile Rose and it’s taken a number of years to get going, but we now have major interest from retailers and corporate clients.
Last summer’s Flowers at Chicheley, which I co-organised and was the largest cut-flower event ever seen in the UK, was such a success that we’re hoping to stage it again in 2013, at Woburn Abbey – so watch this space.
I also have a couple of trips abroad planned, to give demonstrations and lectures.
In early May, the Turkish edition of Hello! and Maison Francaise magazines are hosting my demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara.
And then in June, I’ve been invited to speak at the Toronto Botanical Garden. It’s lucky I enjoy flying – it’s the only time the phones don’t ring!
In July, we’re celebrating the Olympics by offering special workshops in which people can make a laurel victor’s wreath, or for those with little time on their hands, they can buy a ready-made one.
We think that wearing a traditional victors’ wreath is a great way to enter into the spirit of the Games – perfect for Olympic-themed parties, or if you’re a lucky ticket holder with a ring-side seat.
Do you have a favourite flower?
I love David Austin’s garden roses, sweet peas and lily-of-the-valley – all of which have a scent and are as close to an English country garden as I can get in Central London.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my interview with Judith today. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with news about the flower school, they have a Facebook page.
Many thanks to Judith and Georgina for all their help in compiling the post.
(Images : Judith Blacklock)