Cult florist Rebel Rebel has been at the forefront of fashionable flora for years, creating original designs for clients such as Burberry, Bafta and Big Brother. The 17-year-old company already offers classes at its east London shop, but now it is also running a series of courses at a villa in the beautiful Tuscan hillside hamlet of Barga.
The four-day course (£1,200 excluding flights and accommodation) runs from June 9, June 30 and July 7, and will, says Rebel Rebel co-founder Athena Duncan, “give a taste of the main basics of floristry, in a really lovely setting, using local foliage and flowers from our own cutting garden, along with Italian and Dutch commercially grown flowers that we will get from the market in San Remo”.
Day one will start with what Rebel Rebel calls the “florage” – seeking out foliage in the local woods and meadows. “Most people don’t understand the importance of foliage,” says Duncan. “It’s not a filler; it gives the whole thing body and grace.” The lessons will also cover tied bunches, building up to the “Bouquet on Legs”, so large that when someone holds it only their legs can be seen.
Day two will concentrate on wiring – flowers, fruit, feathers, eggshells, even biscotti – to create a Constance Spry-style arrangement. The third day is set aside for a big installation – an arch or wall – and on the final day the focus will be extravagant headpieces and crowns to wear to that evening’s outdoor feast, as well as bedecking the garden with floral arrangements, garlands and urns.
“We’ll have peonies coming out of our ears,” says Duncan. “And snapdragons, fritillaria, achillea, Queen Anne’s lace, herbs, roses and sweet peas, and all the gorgeous things we can forage from the woods.”
The villa in Barga has views across the valley to the mountains, and fields of wild flowers beyond. “As well as the floral side, it is a lovely place for a holiday,” adds Duncan. “The walks are amazing, and the food and wine are delicious. Lucca is only 45 minutes away by train, and Pisa and Florence are close by too.”