Colour contrast: the red and white flowers stand out against the royal blue tablecloth
Thomas Broom- Hughes advises using a mix of filled vases and pots to create an impact
Whether you’re decorating your garden table, a street party table or an indoor dining table, there’s plenty you can do with plants to make an impact, says Thomas Broom-Hughes, director of horticulture at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond.
“In my house, there’s little space for food on the table once I get going,” he says.
“It’s nice to create that wow factor when people come into the room.” He takes inspiration from what is growing at the time, so if there is a glut of something in the garden, whether a particular flower or a specific colour, that will form the basis of his design. He also advises mixing flowers with indoor and outdoor potted plants that
you might have in the house and garden, to beef up your display while keeping costs
down; house plants alone can make an effective table display. The key is to keep
everything at a low height so that people can see each other across the table.
Garden foliage can be overlooked as a material for cutting, but Thomas likes to
use it as a foil for flowers, or on its own: “Camellia foliage, for example, looks great in a vase,” he says.
To make this arrangement, the perfect setting for an afternoon tea, he has used a mix of small bud vases, a larger central vase, and a selection of pots, including potted lily of the valley, jasmine and ferns: “Ferns are inexpensive and can create
a lot of impact,” he says.
The cut flowers are white Anemone coronaria, red camellia, asparagus fern trails, white tulips and pelargonium foliage. The royal blue tablecloth here sets off the reds and whites of the blooms.
The Teahouse at Petersham Nurseries is serving a special coronation afternoon tea
next weekend; for details, visit petershamnurseries.com
- Think in terms of a few groups of small vases and pots, rather than spacing them evenly down the table. A big vase of branches can look very effective; if you do this, make sure to put the vase at one end of the table, or remove it before guests sit down
- Use foliage from the garden to intersperse with the flowers, or on its own in a vase: camellia foliage looks great, ivy and ferns provide movement, and herbs such as rosemary add scent to your arrangement. Clippings of foliage such as camellia or eucalyptus laid down the centre of the table like a runner is easy to do and a nice touch
- If you do buy in small potted flowers or plants for a table setting, they can be given to guests to take home, or planted out into the garden later
- Spring and summer dining is not about formality, so a tablecloth isn’t necessary. If you do want to buy a cloth, save money by ordering a linen flat sheet instead: they’re usually cheaper to buy and come in lots of different colours