For florist Nikki Tibbles, there’s nothing quite like a good bouquet to lift the spirits. You’ve probably admired her award-winning work which blooms across the entrance of Liberty London and decorates the homes and parties (and Instagram feeds) of an A-list clientele. Wild at Heart’s flagship boutique positively blossoms on the design-savvy Pimlico Road, but we’re rather taken with its original shop in Piers Gough’s iconic Turquoise Island on Westbourne Grove.
Letting us in on how this unusual – and now listed – public-loo-meets-florist hybrid came about, Nikki talks about seasonal flowers, shopping local and why she chose to take root in Notting Hill.
How are you, Nikki? What’s been keeping you busy lately?
We’re working very hard in lockdown, probably harder than I’ve worked in a long time; we’ve had to consider the bolts of the business and the Foundation. We’ve had to diversify, look after our website, our staff and their mental health and their wellbeing, along with furlough and all the challenges that has presented. Through our Foundation, too, we keep trying to do as much good as we can in this world that everyone is finding very challenging right now.
Can you tell me a bit more about the Wild at Heart Foundation?
We set up the Wild at Heart Foundation about four or five years ago, with the aim to reduce the world’s 600 million-strong stray dog population, which is too often dealt with very cruelly. With that comes mass sterilisation campaigns, education campaigns – one of which has been sponsored by Manolo Blahnik – and we have an amazing adoption team that brings approximately 50 dogs a month over from countries such as Thailand, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon and South Korea.
What do you think makes your flower arrangements so enduringly appealing?
The spirit of generosity; it’s the most important thing for me in everything that I do.
Is that what underpins the great bouquet?
I think so. There are many online florists that sell flowers that have to last 10 days and go through letterboxes and arrive in bud. Of course, it’s always lovely to receive flowers, but I want people to open a box containing a Wild at Heart bouquet and say: “Wow, that’s amazing.” That’s what I want to achieve, that sense of excitement. I want to create something you just want to dive into; something that makes you smile and happy rather than something that will only bloom in a week’s time.
What do cut flowers bring to a home?
They make you smile – and we certainly all need something to make us smile right now. That sense of bringing nature indoors is great, too.
Are certain flowers suited to different occasions?
We always work with seasonal flowers; nature is incredibly inspiring, so we work in harmony with it, finding the sort of things you could forage yourself, nothing that’s too forced, tropical or dyed. Natural and beautiful is best. No silk or plastic. We use potted trees so that we’re not cutting down Christmas trees. We’re all about sustainability and reusability. I think that’s really important.
Do you have any favourite flowers?
I love anything that’s in season, really: tulips, peonies, garden roses.
When you’re travelling, are there any home comforts that you bring along?
Oh, yes. A cashmere blanket and my favourite scented candles. I love the rosemary and eucalyptus from True Grace.
The Wild At Heart shop in Turquoise Island is something of a Notting Hill institution. Can you tell us how that came about?
Turquoise Island was built by Piers Gough [of CWCG architects], replacing Victorian public loos. A portacabin had been placed there and it was a real eyesore. So, in 1993, this amazing man and philanthropist called John Scott, who had lived in Notting Hill all his life, employed Gough to turn them into something quite beautiful – a public loo with a flower shop.
I was living in Notting Hill and had only just started doing flowers at the time. Through my front door arrived a piece of paper saying: “Tenders wanted for a flower store.” So, of course, I put an application in. I’d come from an advertising background, so I put mood boards together and submitted a proper pitch. I got a phone call after two days asking me to come in for an interview at 6am and they handed me the keys. We opened a week later.
Today, Turquoise Island brings so much life and vibrancy to the area. It’s a landmark.
Obviously, the building itself was of great appeal. But what is it about the area, about Notting Hill, that attracted you?
I’ve lived in Notting Hill most of the time I’ve lived in London; I rented here, bought my first flat here and now my house is in Notting Hill. I’ve been here for almost 25 years and I love it. I loved the old Notting Hill especially. It was amazing; you’d go to 192 and Juergen Teller would be sitting there; Alexandra Shulman would come to buy flowers from us. It was a really brilliant area, full of creativity but also different people. When I first opened my store, there were three homeless guys who would sit on the nearby bench and tell stories. It was fabulously interesting; a wonderful, vibrant place. Today, I still can’t imagine living anywhere else. I feel very lucky, blessed and grateful to live there.
How can we tap into the local community?
Shop locally. I think it’s never been more important to support our local businesses, to keep our high streets as alive as possible. Even before the pandemic, I shopped locally; it’s really important to me.
Nikki Tibbles’ Pocket Guide to Notting Hill
Stay: The Laslett is my favourite hotel if I ever fancy a night away from home – I meet friends for drinks there a lot and the food is great.
Shop: I buy my vegetables along Westbourne Grove, Bens is great; Dinny Hall for gifts; Pippa Small for jewellery; and for clothes and gifts, The Cross near Holland Park – it’s run by one of my oldest friends, Sam; we set up our businesses at a similar time.
There's no better welcome to a new home than the smell of fresh flowers. Bliss.
Wild at Heart's creations bring a special flourish to any occasion. If you'd like to order anything before your stay, please just chat to your Domus Stay guest services specialist.