Chrissie Wiltshire Interview: Top Tips For Budding Florists!

The 2014 Chelsea Flower Show is well underway, so we got in touch with wedding and event florist Chrissie Wiltshire to offer advice for budding florists!

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is Britain’s most prestigious flower show, known the world over for its ambitious displays and stunning exhibits. Some of its most famous pieces include 1959’s ‘Garden Of Tomorrow’ (complete with radio controlled lawnmower) and James May’s 'Plasticine Garden' in 2009.

If the Chelsea Flower Show has inspired you to give floristry a go, you’re in luck! We asked Chrissie for her words of wisdom to help aspiring florists bloom.

Chrissie is an experienced florist who is clearly passionate about what she does:

‘Being at the flower market at the crack of dawn, full of early risers, banter and above all laden with scent and colour, is an experience that I would recommend to any lover of flowers and gardens.’

With a wide ranging portfolio, including floristry for private and corporate parties, hotels, small family occasions and weddings, Chrissie knows that there are plenty of ground rules for a florist to follow.

''‘Here’s a good groundwork of basics to keep in mind. First of all, keep all of your containers clean - we find a drop of napisan helps! Have lots of water ready and give your gatherings a good drink in a cool spot before you arrange them. Remove all of the leaves that will be below the water level as they have a delightful trick of turning to ' mush'. You also need to condition your flowers and leaves, this means cutting and preparing them in a certain way. There are too many techniques to list, but Sarah Raven’s book ‘The Cutting Garden’ has a marvellous glossary.’

Chrissie is always training to keep abreast of floristry fashions and techniques, but some advice is timeless.

‘Wide gauge chicken wire is very handy for creating a support inside your container or vase ( you won't see it once you have finished your arrangement ) but you are bound to have a roll of sellotape which is perfect for making a criss-cross grid over the top of your vase for the very same purpose.‘

‘Think of your colours as being complimentary rather than matching. Try to vary the size of your blooms and the variety of textures that you use - think of fresh clean mint alongside spiky rosemary and soft bronze tinted sage. All of these are just perfect with any roses that you have managed to buy or pick.’

A new florist shouldn’t be worried by expensive equipment either.

‘Don't think that you need a special container - you will be able to find something that will work for you whether it’s an old jar that you have decorated with a length of twine or a snippet of ribbon, or even a plastic pot that you have covered in rosemary branches or magnolia leaves (I use twine or double sided tape!)’

As for displaying your flowers, Chrissie highlights that you need to be considerate.

‘Think about where your flowers will go. If they’re on a dining table, for example, keep them low or high as you don't want to disrupt conversation. Also, any budding chef will tell you that they don't want scent to interfere with either their food or wine!

‘Keep the water fresh in the vase/container and out of direct sunlight or mean drafts and your arrangement should last well.’

At the end of the day though, it’s important that you enjoy yourself!

‘Your own sense of style, colour and form are your most important tools.Personally I love to have a vase with something that I have found or want to experiment with on my desk - currently I have a sprig of deutzia.’''

Special thanks to Chrissie for her advice. If you want to see more of her work or you’re after floristry for an event, head over to her site:

Floral displays can also benefit from lovely bright tissue paper or a luxurious ribbon wrapping. You can order both on our site with speedy next working day delivery!

Are you hooked on the Chelsea Flower Show? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

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