Homes & Gardens

How to create the perfect flower arrangement by Judith Blacklock

Judith Blacklock shares the secrets of a successful flower arrangement.

Judith Blacklock is known and respected worldwide for her teaching skills in flower arranging and floristry. She set up her flower school in Knightsbridge 12 years ago and today it is the only private flower arranging and floristry school in the UK with accreditation from the British Accreditation Council (BAC). The school’s students come from all over the world to benefit from the knowledge and experience of Judith and her team, and leave with acknowledged certification.

Judith herself is highly regarded within the industry having taught many of today’s top florists. She demonstrates at leading global floral events, such as the Chelsea Flower Show, and has arranged flowers at many high-profile venues, including Kensington Palace. She is also the author of nine floristry books, and a floral consultant to many high profile celebrities, such as Kirstie Allsop, as well as leading UK companies, including Topshop and Channel 4. So what’s the secret to a successful flower arrangement? We caught with the grande dame herself to find out more.

Where should I begin my flower arrangement? Before you start, really think about where you want to position your flowers and the mood you're trying to evoke. If it's a grand room with high ceilings, a lone rose in a slender bottle will be swamped; while a huge stone urn with billowing hydrangeas and foliage would overpower a table laid for a simple lunch. This may sound obvious, but one of the most common mistakes is to ignore scale and proportion.

What type of vase should I use? It’s not just the size and shape of the flowers you need to think about – the right choice of vase is just as important: try to match them in terms of vibe. Remember that the wider the vase's mouth, the more flowers it will need. I’ve chosen contemporary glass cubes for this arrangement (right) as they complement the roses perfectly – they would also work well stretched along a rectangular table for a chic dinner.

How should I choose my flowers? As beautiful as they usually are, flower stalls and shops can be quite bewildering for the indecisive. How do you choose between the gorgeous blooms in all of their fabulous colours and be sure that the combination you select will do them justice? The simplest route is to mass flowers of one kind - like the roses used here. If you are determined to mix flowers, include at least one variety with a round face, such as a sunflower or peony. These will be the focus of the design, because they draw the eye in.

Which are the best colour combinations? Another consideration is colour. The safest option is to use blooms all of the same hue, but sometimes combining 'clashing' colours - orange, pink and red, for instance - really makes an arrangement sing. These roses are warm and inviting, like an open fire, but if you want a sleeker look, opt for the timeless duo of white and green. Blues and purples - cool colours - are 'receding', which means that they calm the eye and create a feeling of distance, so they make a room look larger. Warm colours have the opposite effect. Some colours are more luminous and dominate designs: yellow being the most, followed by orange, yellow-green, red, blue and, lastly, purple.

What should I do to make my flowers arrangement last? To keep your arrangement looking perfect for as long as possible, tend to your flowers with love and care. Buy the freshest bunch (rose heads should be firm), and as soon as you get home, remove any leaves that would be under water. Cut the stems at an angle a couple of centimetres from the bottom and place in water. Make sure that the water, scissors and all containers are super-clean; bacteria will kill the flowers. Milton is ideal for thoroughly sterilising.

The Judith Blacklock Flower School in London has an exceptional reputation for teaching classic flower arranging skills and cutting-edge floristry methods. For further information, please see; tel: 020 7235 6235

17 November 2010