Few things beat the joy of receiving an unexpected bouquet of flowers to the door. But how to best arrange them? That’s where Judith Blacklock comes in! Principal of The Judith Blacklock Flower School, she’s been professionally teaching the art of flower arranging and cutting-edge floristry methods for over 30 years.
Judith’s recently returned from the RHS Flower Show – one of the biggest floral events of the year – where she was on hand to offer tips to budding floral designers, and she has a busy year ahead on the floral circuit, too.
She’s taken time out of her hectic schedule to be interviewed by us here at Distinctive Chesterfields. We know how important it is to you that your living room looks stunning at all times, and thanks to Judith’s top tips, you can enhance your decor further with a bunch of beautiful blooms. Read on…
Judith Blacklock, floral designer and floristry expert
Distinctive Chesterfields (DC): You’re currently gearing up for the Flowers @ Oxford event. What can people expect from the weekend?
Judith: Where to start? It was a veritable flower extravaganza, gathering many of the world’s leading floral designers, the most beautiful cut flowers and an army of enthusiasts. If you like flowers, visiting really is a must. The grounds and college buildings of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will be decorated with stunning and intriguing designs throughout; there will be hands-on workshops with the designers; workshops for those who want to pick up a few tips, or to gather inspiration; competitions; stalls selling original and hand-crafted goods; picnics in the grounds, and lots more.
DC: You also edit a flower arranging magazine, as well as lead courses on the subject. But what would you say to encourage someone who’s considering learning how to arrange flowers to give the hobby a go?
Judith: I would say that anyone can learn how to make stunning floral designs, armed with a few tips and a bit of confidence – which is what we supply at the flower school. It really is one of the most rewarding hobbies and is such a good stress-buster.
“… anyone can learn how to make stunning floral designs, armed with a few tips and a bit of confidence”
DC: Have you noticed a rise in people joining your courses in recent years, with the focus on all things homemade hitting our TV screens (Great British Bake Off, Kirstie Allsop’s upcycling shows, and Sewing Bee to name just a few popular programmes)?
Judith: Yes, I have. It’s rather lovely that there seems to be renewed interest in these skills, which our parents’ and grandparents’ generations took for granted. There is nothing lovelier than being able to step back and think ‘I made that’.
DC: Who – in the flower world or otherwise – is a personal inspiration to you? And who would you encourage people to see at the Flowers @ Oxford event?
Judith: I take inspiration from so many. Joe Massie is a young British designer who is simply wonderful and a name to watch. He is coming to Oxford with other great British designers such as Lana Bates and Laura Leong. Jonathan Moseley is also taking part both as a designer and as organiser of the main theatre of design. He is the flower arranging judge on the Big Allotment Challenge and has brought flower arranging to a huge new audience which is great. All the international designers have been chosen for their skill and brilliance and I am inspired by them all.
DC: What would you say is the biggest mistake people can make when arranging their shop bought flowers into a vase?
Judith: Just plonking them in without cutting the ends first. This means the flowers cannot drink water and will die prematurely.
DC: …and what’s one simple thing everyone can do to instantly make their flower arrangements in the home look lots better?
Judith: To change the water regularly, which will keep them alive for much longer. In terms of design, if they’re a hand-tied bouquet, I would cut the string, to give them space and allow them to fill the vase. Don’t buy a vase that is too tall. The majority of flowers are most comfortable in a vase only 20 cm in height.
DC: You’re obviously very creative, but if you weren’t a floral designer and course teacher, what do you think you might have liked to have tried career-wise instead?
Judith: I would love to run a marriage or dating agency. Many of my friends have been the victims of my efforts! I just love to put people together that have a lot in common.
DC: So, you have a day off from work: Tell us how you’d spend it?
Judith: Goodness, what a luxury that would be. I would like the sun to shine and I could spend the time gardening and helping the robin find worms in between reading a good book.
DC: Finally, aside from the Flowers @ Oxford and your popular evening and day courses, what else is in store for you over the coming months?
I am off to Kuwait to teach flowers for a week in November, and San Francisco in 2015. I have another book to write as soon as I get the chance. The school, the Flower Arranger magazine and the family keep me busy and if Oxford is a success there will be another next year.
A big thank you to Judith for answering our questions. Want to see more pieces like this? Let us know by commenting below. And keep up-to-date with Distinctive Chesterfields news daily by joining us over here.