Did you you know that every blossom gets “spanked” at the airport when the flowers land in the US?! Yes, Federal Agents “spank” and physically hit and shake the plants to make sure they are free of some hijacking pests or bugs.
I saw the news report on CBS TV a few years ago and it stuck with me. I am re-posting two of my most popular Valentines post from past years.
The CBS News Valentine’s Day feature told the story of the “Superbowl of Flowers.” Here’s the newscast link: "From Rose Farm to Table."
The news piece features the roses from Columbia (some years ago when I worked at BBG, we hosted rose growers from Columbia who were looking to improve their rose flower yields with reduced amounts of chemicals); the same style of growing is used in Ecuador. I worked garden design and menu development there for several years during the winter season; I saw first-hand the incredible rose production and preparation for shipping. From the broadcast, I learned Miami is the Flower Hub for the US, with 91% of the country’s flowers coming through the airport there. That’s 22 million flowers a day!
Plants are the source of All Valentine’s Day Gifts!
Valentine’s Day offers passionate plant lovers a holiday like no other. Besides the many luxury gifts designed to woo a special someone -- including chocolates, champagne, fragrance, and jewelry -- glamorous, glorious flowers, blooms, and blossoms are the Valentine gifts sure to elicit that romantic swoon. The thing is - all those other luxury gifts are inspired by and composed of --- plants!
Think about it - chocolate comes from a plant bean, champagne from a grape plant, jewelry is most often a flower or blossom rendered in earth’s metals of gold, silver or diamonds. So why not go with the original gift of romance - the authentic messenger of love? Plus, there are legends and stories about most every plant and flower, right down to the meanings of color and the mysterious effect on our ardent -- and lustful -- desires.
This was my Valentine’s Day floral gift this year. Such a beautiful mix of roses, and other blooms.
Say It With Flowers
Over time, flowers have taken on meaning beyond their sheer beauty. Perhaps it was the garden sprites or Garden Goddesses that sprinkled their fairy dust -- adding more romance to nature’s jewels as symbols of virtue and ardor and love.
For example, my Peruvia lilies are noted as a symbol of devotion. Peruvian lilies can say to a companion or loved one that you will always be there for them and that you trust in your lasting bond, according to Proflowers
Further, my pink roses signify grace and elegance; Stargazer Lily, often referred to as the “floral celebrity” represents wealth, prosperity, innocence, and purity
In years past, I often created these pretty floral designs for my Valentines Day tablescape decor. This is when those sweetheart candies were readily available. Sweethearts had been a candy tradition since 1860s when those signature sayings on the candy hearts were launched. The candies were off the market until 2020 when Spangler Candy brought the treats back; this year there are new sayings inspired by music. Sweet.
I created these happy looks with tulips ~ their meaning is “Perfect Love!” And red tulips are “most strongly associated with “true love.” Well, I love them…
Did you know the word tulip comes from “turban?” See, tulips originated in Persia and Turkey and residents there wore the tulips in the turbans - so western Europeans mistakenly gave the tulip its name ~ mixing up the flower with the hat. Sigh...
For my Valentines floral candy confection, I place a glass inside the vase, line it with the Sweethearts who have made an encore performance, and is once again the best-selling Valentines Day Candy. They are so fun. Oh, and the tulips are placed in the glass that is nestled inside the vase and hidden by the Sweethearts.
What does all that floral color mean? According to Michael Skaff, FTD, as reported by ABC-TV Chicago:
Red is for passion and love. These are best suited for the person who you are on clear terms with, like you're both in love or serious about dating.
White is for purity, renewal and freshness. If you've messed up recently, these may be a good way to make amends.
Yellow is for friendship. These are best reserved for someone you're close with and care about very much.
Purple is a complex color that can evoke a variety of different emotions; integrity, fantasy, enchantment. This color says "I'm intrigued by everything you do."
Pink can mean flirtation, femininity. It's also evocative of passion. It's a safe color for those flirtatious relationships that may still be in the "honeymoon" phase.
Orange is for desire. You wouldn't normally think of Orange on Valentine's Day, but the color can say how much you desire your loved one.
Speaking of color, I thought I’d insert a popular blog post from two years ago here. It too, still resonates…
|photo: Angie Lambert|
Pink is powerful. Pink is unconditional love and nurturing.
I surely must’ve had pink power whispering in my ear while I was contemplating what the Valentine’s Day Tablescape would look like this year.
Albeit, if I’m being totally honest, at the time that the design concept was gradually coming to me, I think I was channeling unabandoned romance; unbridled “pretty,” along with pink’s luminous textural art; its ability to blend or play with other colors and, well, its ability to elicit pure delight!
With pink as the inspiration, I took out those pink accessories I had in my tablescape collection that would work here, and then set out to shop for what I hoped would be the “fulfilling” design pieces.
I had already decided I wanted tulle as a defining design element.
After all, who can deny tulle is a dreamy, cloud-like confection? It’s the perfect pink tutu gliding en pointe in our dreams. It’s the dreamy pink prom dress. Pink petticoats fluffing pretty princess dresses.
And yet, Power Pink is not just for dames.
Think about a dreamy man’s sexy sport jacket. (and socks.) .
So Pink it was to be.
Mother and I went to a local Joanne’s fabric store and after poking around with this and that - Voila! I found not one but two widths of pink tulle -- on rolls! C'est formidable!
I also found some faux florals -- on sale -- that I determined I could amend to make a kind of flower display. And they were Peonies -- my most favorite bloom -- so naturally, they stole my heart.
I also found pretty faux floral napkin rings.
Usually, I shop the floral district in Gotham - for both real and faux florals. But these choices adapted (or yielded) -- to my design! And I think you’ll agree.
I cut the faux floral pieces to create a more natural-looking display in the champagne glasses that worked as my vases.
As support for this floral design treatment, I will share with you that even though I’m a passionate garden designer and floral arranger dedicated to using “real,” seasonal flowers (along with some exotics) to amplify a holiday celebration, I have used faux florals for some years - without feeling too cringeworthy - for my clients who need floral compositions with no maintenance - or because the thought of importing so many exotics along with their attending transport footprint, gives me pause…
And then, in October of last year, one of my true entertaining, garden, and floral “she-roes,” the ever-glamorous Carolyn Roehme posted on Instagram about her “evolving” perspective on the use of faux. She mixes real and fake. What a nice vote of approval for a process I’ve enjoyed pursuing - albeit with some reluctance. So yeah! I LOVE Ms. Roehme. We must be garden sprites from another life…
When designing a tablescape - which is clearly distinct from setting a nice table -- is that, foremost, you are telling a story -- creating a kind of display that will delight your family and guests.
A memorable table design is infused by the occasion.
Then the creative, artful execution comes into play.
There is the deliberate, thoughtful, layering of a dynamic, designed composition. After all, even the best home tablescapes as opposed to one-off events table decor - can be modified and updated as a holiday transitions. Think Winter Holiday to New Years’ or Lunar New Year to Valentine’s. You can add and modify the foundation layout.
Fast forward to my pre-Valentine’s Day with family, followed by a Ladies Who Lunch / Galentine’s Day luncheon.
I was over the moon with their heart-clutching and sighing reactions! As a home entertainment designer, that is exactly the reaction you hope to elicit. I live to delight family and guests!
The Tablescape Design Process for Romantic Tablescape
Picking up where I left off shopping for the elements...
On the table, I started layering the tulle runner. I went back and forth. And back and forth. And back and forth. I sincerely thought it would take a few of these end-to-end goal post efforts. But like any good design project, the ultimate determination is in the look.
Rather surprisingly - I used all 25 yards of tulle that was on the roll.
I wanted that cloud-like, ethereal look.
Next - I needed to work in the string lights -- both white and pink.
I make sure to put the battery operated switch on the upside in the whatever table runner I create in order to gain easier access amidst the tablescape’s many splendored accessories.
The faux flowers I strategically cut and anchored in some of our hand-blown heart Waterford crystal champagne flutes from the Millenium Series - filling the base with fragrant, violet, French Lavender seeds.
I often use table mirrors -- or a number of a variety of mirrors - from vintage cosmetic compacts to cocktail coasters to wall-hanging mirrors as a key element of the tablescape design.
Here, I want to point out, is a key DIY Tablescape construct that makes it such an extraordinary art form - and that is - repurposing or using a thing in a new way.
One’s eye for the “what if” needs to be so wow-worthy in order to elevate the “nice” - to the heart-clutching.
I used the pretty pink ballet music boxes from last year, as part of the tablescape anchor - and used it as the concealed surprise with an amuse bouche for one of our dinners. For the rest of our entertaining meals, I left the music boxes open, filled with - what else -- pink feathers. This pink feather texture adds a sensual layer to the look.
I bought pink strands of hearts, and later added a pink flower light strand. And because I’m so smitten with flamingos, I got these adorable ones at Joanne’s that must be used for appliques… And in the same way, I used the airy pink florals, scattered on the pink tulle runner.
I brought out my pinkish, glittery placemats I had from Christmas, years’ past.
I purchased new Lenox Blush settings - they were just too pretty in pink and gold - and I’m thrilled with their look. I have mixed and matched with my other table settings for so many other occasions. I think they look especially sweet with green, glass plates.
More of the artful layering-in included gold and pink glitter, of course (because as I always say, life is too short and you can’t have too much glitter!); gold beads and “pearls”along with those Conversation Sweetheart Valentine’s candy that they stopped making (I kept a stash! But then, before I could complete this post, I read of the Sweethearts’ comeback in the NY Times yesterday!) This year is just their second making the Sweethearts and their back with classic sayings like “Hug Me” and “Cutie Pie,” in addition to sayings inspired by classic love songs like “At Last,” “I’ve Got You Babe,” and “Love Me Tender,” according to the company’s spokesperson. Isn’t it “sweet” that the idea to pull inspiration from love songs came from their commitment to bring a smile to someone’s face, with music.
The Pretty in Pink February Tablescape is a delight in the day - and especially fetching at night, especially with all the ornamental string lights bouncing off the crystal and amplifying the glow of the fireplace.
When setting the table for guests, I wanted to use a holiday-appropriate place-setting name cards. So, naturally - it was a heart-shaped card. I purchased a pink heart stamp - and Mother helped in the design:
I tied gold and pink ribbons through the hole and set in the green holder stands.
Subsequently, I asked my brilliant botanical artist friend, Jean Gaulle if she could shrink up one one of her truly outstanding pieces of art -- Look at this!
- and shrink it down so I could show off her art on the name cards. It was a lovely addition to our Ladies Who Lunch / Galentines celebration. Thank you, Jean.
Seriously, (y’all need to follow Jean on her Instagram - and get an original Jean Galle piece of art for your home. I’m so very proud to highlight, display, showcase my very talented friends. Always.
In terms of the tablescape, a bit more layering was in order to get to perfection:
I used many of the same elements from a few years ago and changed it up with some key features: mainly, the gold chariot that we purchased at last year’s auto show (It seems like another life when we could attend a big show in a public place…) Anyway, Bill painted it gold and I place a few silk leaves and a tea candle inside and it looks like a Cinderella coach or carriage. And I use it at the center of the table.
I also had purchased these Italian red wine glasses for an Independence-themed tablescape; the red works here for Valentines and Lunar New Year.
I kept the candelabras from the Christmas gold and white table decor, along with the elegant white orchid.
For a lovely view of the pink tablescape in the daylight, please visit my newest Facebook page: Ladies Who Lunch.
Following the work on the tablescape - it was time to design the entry hall.
Keeping with the theme of pretty in pink - I started with a smaller width tulle - only two or three layered wraps - red candlesticks I found at the antique shop - on sale; gold and white candles i had (I don’t light them anymore); the gorgeous gold candle holders my niece Marissa gifted us at Christmas (you’ll recognize them from the holiday tablescape); pink string lights, and then when I learned it was the Year of the Pig for Lunar New Year’s, I got these cute pink pigs (banks) with gold wings and crowns!
In the black plant urns I added cotton candy! The cream colored maple cotton candy from our Union Square Greenmarket and the pink (and blue) cotton candy from Dylans Candy Bar.
It’s all so frothy and pretty! (And to think some folks told me it couldn’t work….)
I bring the tiered candy to the table for more sweet desserts or leave in the hallway so that guests can take a few for the road...
The favorite menu husband Bill’s Asian Miso soup -- with pork, ramen, spinach and egg. It is delicious.
And handsome, too.
My heart-shaped beet-burgers are so terrific; I’m thrilled that guests love them too.
Beets, chick peas, rice/quinoa, EVOO, and garlic - whizzed up in the food processor and shaped into hearts -- served on a bed of beet greens sauteed in anchovy paste and EVOO, and baby greens.
The Ladies brought champagne and some extraordinary pink treats!
And not to douse the aforementioned floral ardor, this is a perfect occasion to highlight the ahem, ground-breaking work of one of my favorite floral visionaries: Debra Prinzing
Just as I espouse growing edibles and eating food that is locally-sourced, Debra has championed a more sustainable floral business/”industry” using locally-grown ornamental flowers.
Termed a “Slow Flower” Movement, she advocates for growing your own flowers or buying from local growers. For many of the same reasons. Do we really need to have billions of exotic flowers flown in every day?
If we can recalibrate our floral aesthetic, we can enjoy glamorous floral designs and practice a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment - not to mention creating lots more local jobs.
Prinzing has authored two books on this important subject: The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden
and Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden
Debra’s news release quotes: “The book follows Prinzing through 52 consecutive weeks during which she challenged herself to pick, arrange and photograph a seasonal bouquet using only local ingredients. She sourced flowers, leaves, branches and seedpods from her own garden, from friends' gardens, and from the meadows and fields of her favorite flower farms. Like an easy-to-use cookbook, Slow Flowers features vivid images of each finished bouquet, a thorough ingredient list and step-by-step design instructions. Special "takeaway tips" share expert flower growing advice and eco-design techniques
Slow Flowers demonstrates that living in the moment - each season - is just as rewarding for flower lovers as it is for foodies who cook seasonally-inspired menus."
Another terrific book by one of my favorite landscape designers and authors, Jan Johnson is her newest book coming out February 16th, Floratopia. I reviewed her last book, Gardentopia.
According to the Floratopia’s bio/overview, the book, Floratopia: 110 Flower Garden Ideas for Your Yard, Patio, or Balcony showcases beautiful flower varieties and offers illustrated design ideas that will have you seeing the potential for colorful flowers, both annual and perennial, in all kinds of outdoor spaces, large or small.
Enjoy the glamour of the garden in every season…
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