December 5 2013 Latest news:
Barnes resident Judith Blacklock runs a flower school in Knightsbridge. The florist and author speaks about everything from Chelsea Flower Show to her desert island essentials...
Where do you live?
I live in Barnes, which has all the appeal of a village - a duck pond, a farmers' market, riverside pubs, cleanish air, plus a thriving church and community - but with the benefit of being on the doorstep of central London.
My flower schoolis my home from home. It's located in a gorgeous flower-filled mews, moments from the hustle and bustle of Knighstbridge. First-time visitors are always amazed at the 'hidden' maze of lanes and feel that they have discovered a gem. My Kinnerton and Motcomb Street neighbours are chic boutiques, gorgeous restaurants, coffee shops and delicatessans. There's so much to do and see - and to spend your money on. And thepeople watching is the best in London.
What makes your school so special?
We offer a huge variety of fun and inspiring courses in flower arranging, floristry, millinery and art to suit all levels and timetables. Our teaching excels - the tutors are some of the country's most talented and qualified - and our students are always astounded at how quickly they learn. As they walkinto the calm of our school room (think Farrow and Ball paint and bold floral canvasses), feasting their eyes and noses on the abundance of flowers, their shoulders visibly relax. Doctors should prescribe my courses!
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.
What has been your most exciting flower arranging commission to date?
At Chelsea Flower Show, I am always very proud to arrange the bouquet of garden flowers for the Queen, on behalf ofPeter Seabrook of The Sunnewspaper.
Do you have a signature design style?
I love simplicity - a mass of freesias, or a bouquet of sweet-smelling roses - design that is structured, but unfussy.
Who are your botanical/design heroes?
I find my inspiration in the creative arts.In particular, botanical artists Jan Harbon, Paul Fennell and Natalie Toplass. I also love the work of sculptors and milliners such as Edwina Ibbotson and Bridget Bailey.
What has been your proudest moment professionally?
I am organising a cut-flower event at Chicheley House, Buckinghamshire, in August - the first of its kind in the UK;fleur-events.co.uk.It will be huge, I get scared just thinking about it. I am also involved in a new company called Savile Rose (savilerose.com), which is taking beautiful preserved flowers to the mass market.
What are you most looking forward to at Chelsea Flower Show this year?
I am demonstrating on the Thursday, which is always great fun to do.
Whats your favourite shop?
In Knighstbridge, it's a struggle to walk past Egg and Roccoco.
Whats your favourite restaurant?
It has to be Mosimanns, which is perfection from the moment you enter the door - divine food and service - it is like another world. For a quick lunch, I love Motcombs - again the service is fantastic.
If you had a dinner party, who would be top of your guest list and why?
Elton John - we could talk flowers.
Youre unprepared for a dinner party what shop can you always rely on?
I love cooking and hate to say this, but I am always prepared. However, if truly caught out, I would go toOttolenghi - everything he creates is total perfection with terrific flavours and combinations.
Whats your motto for life?
Hard work and find the area in which you excel - however small.
What do you do to pamper yourself?
I am a member of the Berkeley Hotel's wonderful 7th floor gym. I loathe exercise, but here - in the lap of luxury - it becomes bearable. Just. When I have time, I take the Turskish bath which is heaven.
Do you have a favourite London park?
I love Richmond Park. There are deer, fabulous walks, horse riding and the famous Savill Gardens, which are a must to visit in the spring with their wealth of azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons.
And your all-time favourite garden?
My own, whichI created from nothing. I could leave the house, but not the garden.
Whats the last book you read?
The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
If you could change one thing about London, what would it be?
Flowers on every corner.
What makes you mad about where you live?
Four wheel drives choking the roads.
What makes you smile about where you live?
The ducks on Barnes pond.
Whats the last thing that made you cry?
The death of a dear neighbour, who had been so tolerant of me, my students and the mess we make over the past 12 years.
What or who do you miss when youre away from home?
My husband and children. My son works for Formula One and my daugher teaches in an Academy in Islingon - they both live in Clapham South, so close enough to be missed.
Where do you go to be a culture vulture?
I am passionate about Opera - in particular Mozart and Donizetti - and the ballet,so the Royal Opera House, The Coliseum and Sadler's Wells.
Lazy London weekends, or green wellies in the country?
Neither - I seem to have so many projects on the go, I work through the weekend. How boring, except when I give myself a couple of hours in the garden.
Where were the last three places you went on holiday?
We go to Croatia every year, staying in an idyllic spot completely unknown to the British. We choose a different route back each year,camping en route in our two-man tent.
Name your desert island essentials.
Books, a wide-brimmed hat - and some secateurs.
What advice would you give someone whos visiting your area?
Step off the beaten track
Judith Blacklock never leaves home without
My Smythson handbag - when ones wears out, I buy another in the Harvey Nichols sale.