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Wild at home

Wild at home

Famous for her luxury floral designs, Wild at Heart founder Nikki Tibbles takes a more relaxed, but no less chic, approach to arrangements in her house

Interview: Zena Alkayat

Photography: Natasha Marshall

Is there an art to choosing which flowers to cut from the garden?

When I’m picking flowers from my garden, anything goes, there are no rules. I believe that if you have plants you love and a vessel you love, any combination can work. I’m a big champion of using what you’ve got, whether that’s from your garden or beyond. 

 

What do you use?

I cut from all over my garden, including flowers that I’ve grown like peonies and roses, as well as trees such as a beautiful big magnolia, a gorgeous olive tree and a lush and green oak. A single branch of horse chestnut can look so striking. I even pick bunches of spinach and kale to put in vases on the table. Having ‘flowers’ in your home should be a complete assault on your senses with colour, scale, proportion and texture being the priority, rather than whether it’s a traditional cut flower.

 

Do you have a plan beforehand?

I don’t have a plan, but I like to draw inspiration from my favourite paintings, or it could be a floral dress or a piece of fabric bursting with colour. I like to mix pale lilac next to vivid orange and hot pink – throw a bit of vibrant green in there and you have a masterpiece! You should never be afraid to mix colours. I also look to nature and mimic how things grow together in the garden, park or forest. 

Do you condition the flowers in any way?

I leave the stems as long as possible and cut 2cm at the bottom at a diagonal angle to increase the surface area for water absorption. I always make sure there is no excess foliage and that all the leaves that might sit under water have been removed. Another tip is to leave them in a bucket of cold water somewhere cool for as long as you can spare (overnight is good) before putting them in the vase. 

 

Any rules of arrangement?

Lay the flowers out on a table so you can see what you’re working with. A good trick when arranging your bouquet is to crisscross and alternate any foliage you have in the vase first. Then do the same with your statement flowers like roses, hydrangeas or peonies. Finish by filling any gaps with smaller flowers such as scabious, clematis or sweet peas. 

 

How do you make them last?

I’m not a complete believer in adding things to the water or sticking pins in the head of tulips and tricks like that, but I always like to add a Milton sterilising tablet to the water to keep it free of bacteria, which keeps the flowers fresher for longer. 

 

Any other handy floristry tips?

If you have a rose or a sunflower and it’s looking a little sad, cut the stems and plunge about 5cm into boiling water – you’ll see the difference, as the heads will perk up. With a hydrangea that’s gone a little soft, plunge the head into cold water and the flower will be invigorated. 

This article was adapted from issue 9

Wild at home

Wild at home

Wild at Heart founder Nikki Tibbles takes a relaxed approach to floral arrangements at home

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