Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Of roses and lemons...

The last of the lemons have been harvested, and I can think of no better way to use them fresh off the tree than on the table (at least until they can be juiced!). A bowl of fruit can be really inspiring when setting the table. And while I had no idea what flowers the wholesaler had in stock, I did know that my onyx bowl was filled with a bumper crop of bright yellow beauties. I went in just before the big deliveries came in (like April 15 for accountants, February 14 is all hands on deck for floral employees) to see what was available and found a few pleasant surprises. The first was a pink rose I had never seen before, Bellevue, and it is a stunner. It's a beautiful deep pink with a tinge of light green on the ends. I asked about this variety, and no one seemed to know anything about how it opened or its longevity, but I took a chance. Also found was a great stand-by rose, especially for spring and summer, Green Tea. It has a fresh green color and the blooms will open up beautifully in arrangements.

As I knew I wanted to keep the colors of the roses and lemons separate, I used tall water glasses made from recycled wine bottles as vases for the roses. These are made by a local craftsman here in town who literally goes to restaurants and collects their used bottles and turns them into glasses. Talk about "recycle and reuse"... The sad thing is that the city doesn't recycle from restaurants, so it really is a service that is being done. I really do love these as glasses and use the shorter ones as water glasses (as seen in the photograph) and now the taller ones for vases (look again!). The look of the arrangements is a riff on the standard julep cup arrangement, but these glasses sit a bit higher on the table (hence the flowers do, too!) and they hold a dozen roses each, so you get a really great, full look.

I conditioned the roses as I do (come to a class and learn!), filled the glasses cum vases snuggly, added my signature collar of galax leaves and then did an asymmetrical composition down the center of the table. Usually, my table doesn't require that much when I set it, but when I add one of the two leaves, it just is a really long expansive void. I also used my mother's sterling candle holders with my favorite beeswax tapers, our sterling flatware, woven mats from Williams Sonoma, Tiffany wine glasses, vintage Dansk plates and new French porcelain bowls from Apilco and linen napkins from Muriel Grateau, and voila: a table set high/low- vintage/new for a fun, festive evening!

There is something about fruit on the table that looks so right to me, I don't ever get tired of it. In a pinch, you can always get something colorful from the market, so it makes sense to have a few bowls or other containers ready to fill. This onyx bowl is a beauty filled or empty, which makes it doubly versatile. A good trick, especially with citrus, is to add some greenery. If you can't get fruit on the stem or from your own trees, find a similar looking cluster of leaves from your yard (or neighborhood!) it makes the fresh fruit look that much fresher! Also, taking a little time arranging the fruit (stems in) makes the arrangement look more polished.

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