With her English rose beauty, beaming smile and eclectic dress sense, it’s no wonder we chose style maven, Martha Ward, to be our latest FLOWERBMB. As Fashion Director of the global Conde Nast Traveller following stints at Vogue.com and Tatler, celebrity stylist and editor, Martha, part-comprises her busy lifestyle by filling her quaint Chelsea home with antiques, designer vintage pieces and on this occasion, flowers, with her floral prints providing the perfect backdrop for a FLOWERBX photoshoot and Q&A.
Colour but in the softest possible shades. Pale pinks, soft violets and lilacs - sugared almond shades basically - with a few whites thrown in.
Tell us about the first flowers you ever received and how they made you feel?
A boyfriend I had when I was younger used to buy me sunflowers, not the most obvious of blooms and not a flower I would buy now but gosh they are a most cheery flower, they very nearly smile at you!.
Is there a significant flower that has played an important role in any of life’s milestone moments?
More reminiscent and nostalgic as opposed to milestones. Hyacinths and their delicious aroma always remind me of my Mumma and happy cosy winter times. Sweet peas remind me of home in Scotland in the summer where my stepmother grew them in abundance and so they were always by my bed. Pale pink garden roses bring me back to both my grannies who loved them. And the scent of freesias just remind me of happy days and times.
What do you love most about flowers?
That they can make a room. And that they bring joy, as well as delicious scent. They needn’t be grand or even plentiful. For me, a small bunch of cut flowers from the garden are just as satisfying as a dozen stems of peonies or a bunch of hydrangeas.
What is your most powerful memory involving flowers and scent?
Lavender for me is one of the most potent and addictive scents. Almost my entire life I have been obsessed with lavender and have at least 2 lavender bags in my bed at any one time. I travel with a lavender bag, I actually make them too, and I have pure oil from France that I dot around the house, and bathe in at night. I visit lavender fields often, all over the country and the world. It’s a smell of great comfort and reassurance to me, as well as one of relaxation.
Which flowers do you like to give and why?
Depends on the time of year. But I generally like to give hydrangeas, as they last for ever and ever in the home, and then can be planted outside to grow and grow. They are a most rewarding bloom. Summer offerings will be peonies or sweet peas and full vintage roses like ‘all for love’ roses.
Which flowers do you most like to receive?
Anything that includes any of the aforementioned flowers. In a pastel palette. Hand tied little bunches, posies even. Never a big bouquet.
How does your flower choice reflect your personal style?
My preferences are very consistent with my style, not that I’ve ever realised it til now. The colour palette, feminine, delicate, understated variety of bloom I like definitely reflects the clothes I am drawn to.
What’s your favourite flower season?
Summer! Sweet peas. Peonies. Summer roses. All blissful and happy making.
What are your top tips for hosting a dinner party or any special occasion?
Jam jars of flowers. I’ve always preferred small bunches on a table, popped into jam jars or little antique jugs.
Who would you invite to your own dream dinner party?
Alan Bennett for wonderment and words. John Rutter for music. David Hockey for inspiration and visuals. Jeremy Vine for some topical debating. David Attenborough (need I say more?). Radio 4’s Zeb Soanes. And Iris Apfel, because she not only looks so wonderful but IS actually wonderful too.
Is there an area in your home where you always have flowers?
At my bedside. Even if it’s just a stem of a garden flower in a cup.
What are your favourite vase styles and/or vase shapes?
I like simple glass vases. Wide necked vessels. Useful for bunches of hydrangeas for example. And then small ones, or antique glass, for little posy bunches.
Describe your interior style?
Eclectic. Vintage. French style. Mismatched. Many a wall hang. Endless curiosities. And all in abundance. I’m a hunter gatherer and always on a quest for new treasure.
"The colour palette, feminine, delicate, understated variety of bloom I like definitely reflects the clothes I am drawn to."
Who inspires you in either art, design, fashion or music?
Aside from the above dinner party guests (Hockney, Rutter, Bennett etc..) I’d add in Erdem for his vintage references in his collections, Paul Smith and his brilliant stores, Joe Wright for his cinematic eye, Bloomsbury Group art (Duncan Grant in particular), Alain de Botton for his mind, Jane Birkin and Mia Farrow in the 60s, Coco Chanel, Eric Ravilious, Cecil Beaton (all of him!) Peter Beard, Clifford Coffin and almost all film score composers.
Do you have a favourite piece of art? If so, what?
A Hockney print. That sits marvellously well with all my old watercolours, of which I am an avid collector.
Which designers are you wearing right now?
Love Shack Fancy (blooms galore!). Borgo de Nor. Chloe. Batsheva. Chanel bags & shoes. MiH dungarees. And lots of vintage.
Where is your perfect escape?
To Charleston farmhouse, in East Sussex. I go there often.
How do you begin your day?
With Radio 4 and a cup of tea (English breakfast)
How do you end your day?
With Radio 4 and a cup of tea...! (Camomile)
Where is your favourite London hotspot?
Petersham Nurseries, in Richmond
Which is your favourite city?
Paris. My favourite place for endless meandering and perusing - 2 of my favourite hobbies.
FLOWERBX visits Julie De Libran at her incredible home tucked away in an idyllic courtyard in the fashionable St. Germain quarter to find out the flowers that define her very chic and very Parisian taste.