My Fave Places: florist Rachael Ashton
She may be a self-confessed 'flower nerd' but this Bucks-based florist knows all the coolest spots in our area. Let's go on a magical mystery tour...
We love Wild Rose founder Rachael’s super-creative, rock’n’roll approach to floristry – it’s perfect for brides who aren’t big on traditional blooms. Based in Little Kingshill in Bucks, the 26-year-old has got similarly cool taste in hangouts. So, where to, Rach?
Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury
It’s a beautiful building, a focal point of the town and holds lovely memories for me. My dad is the drummer in a band called Dung Beetles and they played a charity gig here recently when the David Bowie statue was unveiled in the town. They were the opening act, playing alongside Marillion, John Otway and Howard Jones – it was a huge gig for him. My dad’s always been into music and that’s where I get my love for rock’n’roll, jazz and soul from. One of my earliest childhood memories is being on holiday in France as a toddler and him making me listen to an entire Led Zeppelin album. We go to a lot of gigs together, in fact I’m taking him to see the Foo Fighters in June for his 60th birthday.
Black Garden Tattoo, Holborn, London
I’ve got four tattoos, including a rose on my shoulder and a peony across my forearm. An incredible artist called Elmo, who works in this awesome shop, creates them from sketches I take along. Elmo also designed my business logo! They take up to five hours each and it’s a painful process but I love that they’re a permanent piece of art. A lot of older people are negative about them but I think they’re a beautiful thing to have on your skin. I’m a creative person so it makes total sense to me. I’m planning on a full sleeve, which will be nature themed, with lot of butterflies.
Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey
It was absolute heaven here and if it wasn’t such a long journey, I’d be applying for a job! I took my best friend recently for a day trip and we had the best time. It’s set over three massive greenhouses. One has stunning, shabby chic interiors – the kind of pieces you’d see in a grand manor house. I was eyeing up a beautiful leather tabard you put your scissors in but it was a bit too expensive. Another one has all the plants – and they display them by types so you go on a journey through different orchids, ferns, ivy and so on. The third is a brilliant café with lovely fresh cake and pastries, and tea and coffee. I love being amid nature – that’s why I’m a florist, and this place really got my creative juices flowing.
The Pantry, Hazlemere, Bucks
This little coffee shop on Hazlemere high street is where I have a coffee and catch up with my friends. They’re all florists and we’ve all worked together in the past, so this is our hub to talk flowers. Lots of places around here can feel a bit dated but this has a modern edge. I’m a veggie (well, pescatarian) and highly recommend their lovely, fresh vegan and vegetarian food. Go for the veggie quesadilla or smashed avocado on toast with eggs.
There are several different bars over the four floors at The Varsity Club but everyone heads for the roof terrace. The tables are like gold dust but if you nab one, you get lovely views over the spires. It’s a brilliant place to kick off a night out with friends in the city centre. I like the large cocktail list – I’m a sucker for a Pornstar Martini or a Pina Colada.
Wendover Woods, Bucks
My family adopted a friend’s dog at the start of last year, a miniature labradoodle called Libby. So I’ve started spending a lot of time walking here – Libby absolutely loves it and goes mental when we arrive. I love it too – I find it a really calming place, somewhere to take a break from day to day reality and absorb the nature all around.
Home Barn, Marlow, Bucks
I went with my mum a couple of months ago to this 17th century barn interiors shop and you could hear the wind howling through the rafters – it was very atmospheric. I love everything in here – the hand-made wooden chairs and tables, bulls’ skulls on the wall, butterflies in picture frames, glass paperweights with encased jellyfish. It’s all very expensive though. I drive past it every day and gaze longingly.
New Covent Garden Flower Market, Nine Elms, London
If I need something really special I go here. It opens at 4am so I have to get up at 2.30am, which is a challenge! There’s such a great buzzy, vibe and the stallholders are lovely. The range is unbelievable and fresh in every day direct from Holland. They have every colour rose you can imagine, beautiful anemones, a million varieties of orchid, a stall just selling types of foliage and even banana plants. Once I’ve bought my haul, I have a quiet moment with a cup of tea in the café before heading home.
Blue Boar, Chipping Norton, Oxon
My boyfriend lives in Banbury and this was the venue of one of our early dates so I have a soft spot for this place. It’s an old pub with a modern twist and has been recently renovated. You walk through the old part of the pub to the restaurant, which is a gorgeous French-style greenhouse, decked with lemon and olive trees. I’m doing a friend’s flowers for her wedding and we went there recently to discuss it all over dinner. The food is delicious and reasonably priced, the staff are so friendly – and they do a brilliant G&T, with ice cubes studded with juniper berries.
Big Sky, Great Missenden, Bucks
The two ladies who run this used to be florists and now they have this stunning interiors shop. They stock quirky, indie pieces, including lots of wall hangings, vases and dried flowers. Basically, I would like everything for my house – when I eventually buy one. I’m staying with my parents’ at the moment but I have a couple of cardboard boxes full of interiors buys that I’m collecting for my dream home. One day!