Thursday, April 29, 2021

Check This Out: New York Botanical Garden's Antique Garden Furniture 1st Dibs Preview Party is Virtual Tonight; Followed by Weeklong Events with Exhibitors & Superb Garden Programs


I love(d) this event in the "before times," where all The Who's Who in the garden and exterior design world gathered and hobnobbed for cocktails, conversations, and getting their first dibs on rare and unusual gotta' have plants for your collection, as well as the chance to discover and score a perfect antique and/or piece of exterior design for their garden rooms.

A few years back, one of my most delightful and favorite garden design clients set her eye for beauty on these charming, Four-Season Cherubs that nowgive sanctuary and grace her white marble parking courts.


Festivities for this year's show begin on Thursday, April 29, 2021, with a Preview Party Featuring the Collectors’ Plant Auction.

Public Access to the Fair Runs from Saturday, May 1 to Friday, May 7, 2021.

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) will present its much-anticipated Antique Garden Furniture Fair virtually this year in a weeklong event from Thursday, April 29 to Friday, May 7, 2021, featuring unique offerings from leading antique dealers, including classic furniture and fine garden antiques—some with a modern twist, both elegant and inspiring—for the home and garden.

Festivities begin on Thursday, April 29, with an exclusive Preview Party Featuring the Collectors’ Plant Auction, from 4 to 7 p.m. Ticket holders will receive a special early access link that will allow them to purchase objects from the Fair exhibitors’ offerings and bid on a curated collection of exquisite and beautifully grown garden plants handpicked by NYBG’s horticultural staff. Proceeds support NYBG and its premier horticultural programs. 

For Preview Party tickets and information, please e-mail Thao Phan at or call 718.817.8774.

The Antique Garden Furniture Fair is the ideal virtual venue for finding design inspiration for the home and garden, learning about garden antiques, and building personal collections. 

Public access to the Fair begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, when a link to the exhibitors’ offerings will be posted on the Fair’s webpage. The exhibitors’ online showcases will remain accessible for purchases until 12 p.m. on Friday, May 7.

During the Fair, a selection of virtual programs will be available on the Fair’s webpage, including short videos spotlighting some of this year’s exhibitors, lectures by leading designers, a special documentary screening, and a floral design demonstration. The lineup of programs, which will be available to Preview Party ticket holders on Thursday, April 29, and to the general public beginning Saturday, May 1, features the following:
  •   Spotlight on Exhibitors videos, providing insight into the world of antiques through the perspectives of six exhibitors (Find Weatherly, Westport, Conn.; Barbara Israel Garden Antiques, Katonah, N.Y.; Milne’s At Home Antiques, New York, N.Y., and Kingston, N.Y.; New England Garden Company, Sudbury, Mass.; Pagoda Red, Chicago, Ill.; and Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, Litchfield, Conn.)

  •   Cultivating a Creative Life, a lecture by potter, gardener, cook, and entrepreneur Frances Palmer, who centers her creative life—and daily photo shoots—in an airy studio inside her Connecticut barn with a focus on determination, routine, prioritization, perseverance, and perspective.

  •   An Eye for Designa lecture by Kathryn Herman, founding principal of Kathryn Herman Design in New Canaan, Conn., who brings a strong horticultural background and intense interest in architecture to her international residential and commercial landscape design work.

  •   Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes, the 2019 documentary by director Stephen Ives and horticulturist Anne Cleves Symmes, which explores the life and innovative ideas of one of the most influential and creative garden designers of the early 20th century whose work includes NYBG’s Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.

  •   A floral demonstration video in which celebrated designers Michael and Darroch Putnam of Putnam & Putnam will create a centerpiece in keeping with their signature opulent and densely layered style, using color as the guiding principle.

    *Antique Garden Furniture Fair and Preview Party sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts


David Bell Antiques
Brennan & Mouilleseaux Antiques Dinan & Chighine Ltd
Find Weatherly
Finnegan Gallery
Garvey Rita Art & Antiques
Hawthorne Fine Art
Barbara Israel Garden Antiques Richard Kazarian Antiques
Glen Leroux Antiques
Milne’s At Home Antiques
New England Garden Company Pagoda Red
Francis J. Purcell
Rayon Roskar
Red Fox Fine Art
Thistlethwaite Americana
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques
Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge Inc.

Van Roÿen Antiques & Objects 

Withington & Company

The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10458. It is easy to reach by Metro-North Railroad, bus, or subway. NYBG is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday and Monday federal holidays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, please call 718.817.8700 or visit

Sunday, April 25, 2021

FREE Floratopia Garden Book Autographed by Author Jan Johnsen, Plus My Floratopia Book Review

As the landscape designer, artist, and author, Jan Johnsen quotes in her latest book, Floratopia, “More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always.” And who am I to argue with that master of extraordinary flower paintings, Claude Monet?

In fact, I couldn’t agree more. Flowers are our muses, too.

I think it’s safe to say that flowers are the reason why we garden in the first place. We are irresistibly drawn to the color, the scent, the texture.

Never mind that all that beauty is meant to attract pollinators!

The fact is, flowers inspire so many artful craftspeople: jewelry designers, musicians, chef and cooks, painters, textile and fashion designers, interior designers, lighting designers, poets, writers, and of course, gardeners.

No matter who is doing the rendering, flowers symbolize beauty, and love…

Speaking of love, in reviewing Jan’s Floratopia, I couldn’t help but feel the love of her craft and her passion for designing landscapes featuring the allure of flowers ~ that connection to their seductive charm but also the respect for their role in “sustainable and eco-friendly gardens” that jumps off every page.

So it should come as no surprise that I, in turn, love this book! It’s so very inspiring.

The only difficult part was not re-reading the tips and looking at the great color photos from Jan’s portfolio of landscape designs that are featured on every page while I was writing this post! Ha. Like flowers, the book lures you; tempts you with its creativity, design compositions, and practical advice.

Recently, Jan was an honored guest on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations Facebook event ~ thank you so very much Jan! We learned so much about your fascinating journey to becoming a leading landscape designer and garden author of so many successful books.

With regard to Floratopia, I commented how I especially loved that you use the first-person in the book. You seemed a wee bit surprised saying that no one else had noted that. I find this especially 5-star worthy, because when reading the tips and your “Green Thoughts” musings, your voice is authoritative; reassuring. It adds a level of intimacy and trust that so many other garden books lack. Thank you for that important detail.

Win a Free Floratopia book! A Floratopia Book Giveaway
For Garden Glamour readers and viewers of Ladies Who Lunch, Jan and her publisher, The Countryman Press, have generously and graciously agreed to gift a Floratopia book ~ autographed by Jan ~ to a lucky flower and garden enthusiast.

Please email me your answer to the questions:
  1. What is your favorite flower? 
  2. What is the flower combination you can’t live without? (e.g.: Dusty Miller soft grey, purple Angelonia, and pink Vinca or Siberian Bugloss and Purple Pansies; as Jan shows in Floratopia. The colors and textures are fabulous!)
  3. Where do you garden? Planters? Window Boxes, Borders? Community Garden? 
Too busy gardening to answer? Please just email me. (smile)

Email to:

I’ll review the entries and let you all know who the lucky flower-lover is! So exciting…

If you can’t wait for the Giveaway ~ and who could blame you ~ please order from the above link and share the good news about your Floratopia purchase. Whether looking for that hands-on, voice of experience or if you just want to pursue an aspirational garden lifestyle, you will embrace the artful looks and prose in Floratopia. It might not surprise you that, as Jan revealed on our Ladies Who Lunch Conversation, she was a painter and architectural student and enthusiast early in her career. Her artful approach to landscape design is evident throughout her book.

There’s another inspiring quote that touched my garden soul that Jan features as the head note on her Flowers are Living Things: “Flowers are the music of the ground from earth’s lips spoken without a sound.” Edwin Curran. She expresses the point that “artistic expression and growing healthy flowers are not mutually exclusive. They are one together. That is the essence of great flower garden design.” Indeed…

Floratopia is brimming with ideas and techniques. I can see these pretty cut flowers and more in a pretty cachepot.
You can learn from the master about the importance of soil to become as she coins it, a “Rake Master'' in the Art of Raking; the need to weed, designing and working with Nature and your zone to achieve Drought-Resistant Gardens, or letting the lawn go and getting the flowers to come back (hello, clover, dandelions and wild violets. Oh, and I just read a great recipe for dandelion wine!) 

Jan even includes tips on planting annuals which I’ve rarely seen in horticultural or garden design books. Most “serious” garden experts pooh-pooh any mention of this leaving it the local nursery or … We love that pop of summer color and so appreciate Jan’s wise garden suggestions to using these “floral workhorses'' as she describes them in the chapter devoted to annual.

An entire chapter!

Floratopia is that rare combination of a garden book: serious and grounded in its advice yet a fun, joyful read ~ a real garden tour. Whether you have a green thumb or are all-thumbs.

We in the horticultural, garden design world revere Jan. You can see why…
As if you needed more convincing about Jan’s bonafides (what, you can’t take my word alone? ha), here is Jan’s bio, flush with her special garden design and plant pedigree.

Jan Johnsen began her professional life in Japan in a landscape architecture office. She has been a principal in a landscape design-and-build firm, Johnsen Landscapes & Pools, based in Westchester, New York, for more than 40 years.

Her natural design approach is evident in the landscapes that she shares in her books: Heaven Is a Garden, The Spirit of Stone, Floratopia and Gardentopia.

Jan Johnsen’s latest 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.

Essential advice―such as "Hot Weather Flower Garden Tips," "Tiny Space, Tiny Garden," and "Tips for Layering with Flowers"―is accompanied by lush photos and informative captions. Selected growing tips―such as "Become a Rake Master" and "Should I Cut Back in Winter?"―answer common questions and ensure success for gardeners of all skill levels.

Floratopia both inspires and enlightens; it underscores the role of flowers as pollinator magnets and encourages the appreciation of flowers throughout their entire lifecycle.

Choice tips for butterfly gardens, combining grasses and flowers, and deer-resistant combinations also include recommended cultivars and suggested soil conditions. This engaging book is divided into six chapters:
  1. Flowers in Pots and Planters
  2. Flower Garden Planting Tips
  3. Flower Garden Design Tips and Green Thoughts
  4. Themes for Flower Gardens
  5. A Few Choice Perennial Flowers to Try
  6. A Selection of Favorite Annual Flowers.
Floratopia appeals to gardeners and flower lovers alike. Jan’s encouraging voice, experience, and contagious passion for flower garden designs will inspire you to plant joyful blossoms, wherever you live.

I recommend Floratopia as a true Garden Glamour guide to beautiful, flower-filled gardens.

* All photos courtesy of Jan Johnsen except for the Ladies Who Lunch Conversations screen shot


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

How I Bathed my Tablescape in Sunshine: Step-by-Step Instructions & Ideas for a Beautiful Spring Table Setting


Putting the Color Yellow in Context

While you can skip down to the step-by-step layering ingredients, I thought you might also enjoy some background about the color yellow, along with an anecdote or two…

Yellow can be a tricky color for some folks. Why is that?  

My husband Bill and I were in a conversation about home decor and design some years back and the woman was intent on describing how much she hates yellow walls.  Ahem… until we reminded her that our kitchen and part of our dining room is yellow. She stared back blinking incredulously. “No,” she claimed, having visited our home many times.  “Yes,” I replied.

Yes, it is. It’s a soft buttery yellow. At the time of our reconstruction, I might've been channeling Julia Child’s acknowledged passion for that ubiquitous, French-inspired ingredient… “Well, that’s a different yellow. A neutral,” she declared with Kissinger-like diplomacy. 

As I said, yellow can be tricky.

While yellow can be referred to as the color of caution and more; I found out that Yellow symbolizes happiness and warmth in almost all cultures. It's the color that grabs users' attention more than any other color. Major companies use yellow in their branding to give off the feeling of friendliness and positivity.

So you see it’s also true that Yellow is the happy color of sunshine; cheerfulness, happiness and full-on Spring! 

I say this because I’d never used yellow color in any of my tablescape designs except for perhaps an accessory or two.  Made sense that change - a harbinger of the season, would also be a change in look for my tablescape aesthetic. 

I was inspired by the hopeful energizing color of yellow and its ability to lend a charming earthiness to the entertaining tableau. 

So I made up my mad mind (madness is another of the dark attributes associated with the color yellow!) 

That happy, hopeful yellow would signal that breath of fresh air that April signals to us ~ (in zone 7 that is.) And, I daresay, in the minds of those in hotter locales.

Here, it’s yellow forsythia - long heralded as the official flower of Brooklyn, New Yorkm because it’s the first (to bloom) and is very strong: characteristics that Brooklyn citizens embrace as emblematic of themselves. 

Yellow daffodils almost seem ubiquitous this time of year: for sale at the bodegas, grocery stores, and sweeping our gardens and roadsides in broad swaths of sunshine.  Bear in mind there are seemingly just as many kinds of daffodils as you see blooming most everywhere. Including hybrids, there are over 13,000 distinct daffodil varieties, according to Gardening Know How. . 

Many are deer resistant too. I use “Cheerfulness” in my garden design clients’ gardens who are prey to these big rats.  

Did you know that daffodils signify “respect” in the language of flowers?

Respect for Mother Nature is my interpretation of this kind of floral rosetta stone

Yellow as homage to Mother Nature, to spring, to change. The daffodils shape even seem to “trumpet” the arrival of spring


And this tablescape was created as a kind of salute to Jan Johnsen, my first guest of April for my emerging Ladies Who Lunch Conversations interview platform on Facebook. Her new book, Floratopia has just recently been released. That pop of flower cover art is hard to look away from!  And do look to my next Garden Glamour post ~ we’re going to offer a free Floratopia book to a lucky recipient! 

While I was determined that yellow was the color theme of the new April tablescape, there now was the sticky situation that I didn’t really have any yellow elements to draw from to create this happy look. And I love to repurpose things from art to jewelry to “found” garden items, and employ them in the design.

But this was going to prove a wee bit thorny...

I still employed a layered look. I could use the green glass salad plates and those bright, floral placements I had stowed in the back of the linen closet were in my table-setting inventory, 


along with our crystal glasses and the green Spode ones, yet, I needed chargers, some plates! And that “something” that adds whimsy and charm. Especially for a spring tablescape.

On one of my “wellness walks”, I stopped into the local vintage shop and saw a perfectly sized yellow vase. 

A rather swooning, arabesque shape - the two ends dipped like, well, like weeping forsythia branches! 

The next day, I flexed a bit of bartering ~ just to stay in form!. And I walked home with the right-sized yellow, glass vase.

Floral Focus 

One of my favorite garden design clients who prefers her garden style is that of white purity, nevertheless had lots of yellow daffodils in various locations in her garden rooms from a previous owner. I asked if I could use them - a win/win for both of us. She could rid the gardens of yellow color, and I got oodles of happy daffodils to feature as the sunshine element ~ and to show “respect” for Mother Nature and our gardeners and gardens…

I couldn’t resist the gorgeous, diminutive tulips selling at our local gourmet market: Sickles.

And for a touch of whimsy, I added fresh carrots with their green tops on to the tulip vase. 

Can you see the carrots? 

For even more whimsy ~ can’t have too much of this table ingredient that is meant to delight and surprise you, your family, and guests ~ I hallowed out two small cabbages (used the scooped-out cabbage for homemade coleslaw). 

I fit the potted yellow ranunculus inside. Perfect fit and spring pot!

You can also see the forsythia twigs in the small, horizontal glass vases. I placed the two next to the baby terrariums I created from butter dishes, placing some moss and a found twig or two inside.

I kept the green and yellow orchids in their classic, spring green cachepots that I featured in the green, March tablescape. I also retained the oxalis that I used in March, the variety of pots from sparkling green to painted green clay, still work. I especially like the way the oxalis leaves close up at night. And so does Bill and Mother. 

Plant Performance art!

That said, I also like to mix a few faux blooms in for lasting, easy care beauty. Here, these golden charmers grace a purple African Violet. 

To further accessorize, I placed a real but long-gone butterfly we found in our driveway a few years ago. It’s a nice surprise. 

The table runner is a faux grass that I purchased by the yard at a local Joanne’s fabric and craft store. The staff at our store are super nice and helpful. The faux green grass runner is a perfect canvas for the florals and the tablescape’s other elements.  

Layering in the Table Settings

I thought it would be an intriguing and memorable design look to feature yellow cabbage plates to better celebrate the season. 

I soon discovered the yellow ones are more difficult to find than the green cabbage plates; they are Portguese, and now considered Vintage. Which means more money. But my curiosity had kicked in and the hunt was on. I looked in Replacements, Etsy, and eBay, where I eventually purchased the four vintage Secla Portguese yellow ceramic plates. Not only was the look just perfect but cost, and most of all, no pronounced or visible damage . Understandably, some vintage items have cracks or chips… I was very careful, chose wisely, and in the end, was satisfied with my find.


Bill was tasked with locating the chargers. I wanted some graphic art look on them, vs. a monochrome color.

He outdid himself! The border is a kind of lattice look that complements the plates and matches the place card name tags!  They are a metal material with a French cabbage design so the theme works even when plating the food. And I’ll use them outside later in the summer when dining outdoors. 


You can see the layered plating and charger here, for each place setting. 

I double-dipped with the napkins (smile). I had the vintage green one’s with the loopy bow; layered in the crisp, white linen napkins.

I wanted a more relaxed Napkin “Ring” so I tied a gold-flecked ribbon around the base of the napkin and the bow amplified the napkins’ green one. Kismet.  The gold ribbon is the same as I wrapped around the twinkly light strands and the moss-covered twig I artfully placed on the grass runner, so the shimmery gold is even prettier in the evening. And it follows then, that gold cutlery works with this look. 


TableDecor Accessories

Here’s where the fun really gets going! Choose from any kind of tokens, trinkets, jewelry, or souvenirs to add personality and style to make the table design your own special creation.  

I placed two of the wind-up furry chics Mother gifted us one Easter several years ago. So cute! And I adore the fluffy white ducks and mini, bunny cake stands I purchased some years back at Sickles Market. 

I added the colored, blown out egg ornaments that I made for Bill, me, and my Father and Mother. I still place Dad’s at the table as a loving memory of my best guy… I place them in white chick soft egg holders 

The Lladro girl at the table center is also a lovely memory. It was my godmother’s ~ she collected the figurines. When she died, my other aunt who was her caretaker, gifted this garden girl to me. 

So you see how memories, whimsy, color, texture, balance, nature, seasonality, and imagination can transport your dining table into a pretty, romantic, and entertaining delight.

Hope you enjoy the happy, yellow, glowing tablescape. And Happy Earth Day!

I’ll leave you with two videos: showing the tablescape in the day and in the evening so that you can get an idea of how the layered vignette looks styled for every meal, in any light. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Be Inspired: Learn How Award-Winning Artist, Fashion Designer, & Humanitarian's Journey Fuels Her Compassion for Community ~ as seen on Ladies Who Lunch Conversations


How does a beautiful young woman, talented in so many ways, decide she’s not only going to create one-of-a-kind, artisanal, fashions, but to also contribute 10 percent of the proceeds to local fundraising efforts? Most artists are sacrificing so much just to stay afloat and focus on their artwork ~ reason enough to hold onto every penny.

Like most good fairy tales, this fable imparts its own charming, moral lesson…

As a featured guest on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations ~ Jordan shared with me and viewers how as a Founder, Director, CEO at Art TuGo, she turns her talent for creating beautiful things into a force for good, too. 

Ever since Jordan was old enough to hold a crayon, she was always creating! 

Her parents introduced her to the world of fine art, fashion, dance, and musical theater at a young age. 

They took her to the Keith Haring "POP SHOP" in NYC, Broadway shows for her birthdays,  and to experience other, art-related events.  Jordan is always quick to thank them for immersing her into the art world in her youth.

Not surprisingly, Jordan studied ballet at Miami City Ballet School and The Academy of Dance Arts (formerly located in Red Bank) in her youth for a combined duration of 8 years.  Throughout High School she participated in school plays, musicals, art club, and was accepted into advanced art classes offered at the school. Jordan studied her college foundation year at The University of The Arts and then went on to earn her A.A.S in Fashion Merchandising from Brookdale Community College. 

In 2016, Jordan found a way to combine her passion for fine art and fashion by creating Art TuGo- Take Art With You! A line of handcrafted handbags, wallets, and wall art. Day At The Beach: Tote image 0Floating Hearts Open-Top Tote image 0

In 2019 Jordan registered her line as an LLC.

Jordan didn’t allow the pandemic to trim her sails; in fact, she used the time to create flying flags! Her flag art  became an award-winning design featured in the August 2020 Inaugural Rockefeller Center Flag Project in New York. I was so excited and proud of Jordan’s efforts that I featured it here in a Garden Glamour post. 

Jordan also exhibited her art at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, in the Garden State. Increasingly recognized for her art prowess and knowledge, she was as to curate her first art exhibition entitled, "Looking Ahead.”  

Jordan also premiered some exciting news during our Conversation. No spoiler here ~ you’ll have to view the show. (Hint, it is about being named an art judge! shhhh) 

And if that wasn’t enough of a heavy lift during a lockdown, she self- published two poetry anthologies. 

I purchased both of Jordan’s poetry books. I think you will especially enjoy “Like Flowers We’ll Boom Again: Anthology of Free Verse Poems.” It’s so spot-on for our time… 

Butterflies for Maddy

For the past 2 years, Art TuGo proudly donates 10% monthly earnings to Don't Shock Me- Maddy Massabni Foundation For Toxic Shock Awareness. A registered 501c3 nonprofit.  Not surprising then, that Jordan’s  humanitarian efforts contributed to her being selected as the Public Relations Chair for Don't Shock Me-Maddy Massabni Foundation For Toxic Shock Awareness. 

The foundation is the only one of its kind, raising awareness of Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome, mTSS, that is a direct result from tampon use.  

Last October, Jordan developed a fundraising event concept entitled, Butterflies For Maddy  ~ a garden fashion show, scheduled for May 23 to honor the life of 19 year-old Rumson, NJ resident, Maddy Massabni who tragically died of menstrual toxic shock syndrome in March of 2017. Maddy adored butterflies. And flowers. And life… 

With Jordan’s leadership and a passion she shares with Maddy’s mother and president of The Maddy Massabni Foundation / Don’t Shock Me, these women are on a mission to help dissipate the stigma surrounding this overlooked aspect of women's preventative health.  Please do plan to attend the garden party fundraiser. 

Still sheltering in place or don’t live nearby? No worries. You can donate directly to the foundation. We all have daughters, sisters, mothers… Let’s create awareness and prevent these senseless, preventable deaths. You can help. 

Further, listen and look with the Ladies Who Lunch Conversation and you’ll learn how Jordan plans to expand the creative side of her world by building a new look for her Art TuGo - Take Art With You, LLC. handbag line.  And in keeping with an outlook to better women’s health, it was affirming to hear Jordan talk about the need for Self Care. This astonishing talent highlighted how her past, daily anxieties (social and other) have dissipated within this passing year. She’s sleeping better (now a morning person) Yeah for more and better sleep. I often say that lack of sleep is America’s dirty, little secret. Folks think that working non-stop is cool. It’s not… Jordan further applauded the importance of seeking therapy. Good mental health matters. We go for dental check ups, after all. Let’s not overlook our mental health.  

Do enjoy her short poem about seeking professional help from her lovely book: Melancholy MeyZee.

And of course, no Ladies Who Lunch Conversation is complete without some tablescape magic and true to form, Jordan created a whimsical table decor, inspired by literature (wink) and perfect for the spring, Easter holiday. Replete with bunnies and flower pots and art! 

Thank you, Jordan. Cheers to continued success.

And to networking and sharing stories, and Ladies Who Lunch Conversations!

We hope you all are inspired by Jordan’s story.  

Saturday, April 3, 2021

How to Dye Your Spring Easter Eggs Naturally ~ Plus Recipe for the Best Deviled Eggs
photo courtesy: wallpaper flare

If one is a dedicated foodie; moreover a bit compulsive about sustainability and keeping chemicals off your family’s ingredients menu, then coloring Easter or spring eggs should be made using homegrown, pure ingredients, not synthetic food coloring. Some years ago, I set out to discover – or rediscover – how to color eggs with natural – plant-based dyes. Yes, the fizzie PAAS Easter Eggs is a holiday favorite or tradition. But those pellets are rather scary. 

In search of a better Easter egg, there was the year we pursued the Easter Egg Designs & Craft Ideas | inspired by Martha Stewart where one blows out the inside of the eggs and uses a wax crayon to inscribe the name of family and dinner guests -- I like to use them as place card markers sitting in a pretty egg cup with the beribboned monogrammed eggs hung from forced cherry blossom or pussy willow stems in a seasonal talblescape design.

This decoration is a bit more complicated than straight to dying but if cared for, they last forever.

My quest was to create a natural food coloring for the Easter eggs that will decorate the baskets and tablescape. After some research, including Junior League friends - the plan was to more or less follow the recipe or guidelines as provided by a Katie Fox, SimpleHomemade blog from 2010. Fox was unavailable for an interview.

However the recipe seemed quite doable and fun. Most of the ingredients were on hand, and the others are readily available from the garden or pantry or accessed from the market.

Dyeing Easter/Spring Eggs the Natural Way:
In addition to eggs, you will need white vinegar, water, and veggies, fruits, and spices for colors. Don’t leave out the vinegar – it is a necessary fixative, ensuring that the color will adhere to the eggs.
• grated beets
• chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
• Red Zinger tea
• chopped frozen cherries

• chopped frozen blueberries
• chopped red cabbage
• red onion skins

• yellow/brown onion skins
• chamomile tea
• ground turmeric
• saffron

• chopped spinach

How to ~ Next Steps:
Mix these together to create other colors, as well; for example, reds and yellows combine to produce orange shades. Customize your colors.

It’s a fun and easy way to teach children about colors.
  • Use about 2-3 cups of water in a saucepan for each color. 
  • Add one tablespoon of vinegar and the plant(s) of choice. 
  • Bring to a boil for fifteen minutes before adding eggs.
The chopping of the frozen blueberries and the spinach was easy. Likewise, the grating of the beets.

Rather than use four different pots on the cooktop (after all, there might be a big holiday dinner in prep for Easter!), the microwave was employed.

The natural ingredients were added to coffee cups, with the vinegar and heated for five minutes to a boil.

The best color was the chamomile and yellow onion skins. The yellow was a bright and happy hue.

The red turned out to be more pink. It worked better with the addition of the rest of the beet. Don’t shave it – just cut it up and add to the vinegar water.

The thinking was to turbo-charge the blue color and add a blueberry tea to the frozen chopped blueberries for the test recipe.

After all, the chamomile worked swell. But the blue turned out to be more grayish blue initially. The addition of more vinegar accelerated the blue color.

The only real failure was the green. Which is more than disappointing as the spinach even dyed the cutting board when chopped! Perhaps more spinach and a bigger container to accommodate the intensified plant dye ingredient.

The result was great Yellows, and good Red & Pinks and Blues. Happy spring. Enjoy the egg salad, sans colored shells.

Since I first created this post, commercial food makers must’ve heard the Mom’s cry for Natural & Organic. Consequently, there are now a few brands available and ready to use straight from the retail shelf or online. If the Easter Bunny has you hopping around with too many tasks, here are a few suggestions from which to choose:

ColorKitchen: Plant-based, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, Artificial Dye-Free, Vegan, and lots of deep, rich colors:
  • Blue: spirulina extract.

  • Pink: beet powder.

  • Yellow: turmeric.

  • Orange: turmeric, annatto extract.

  • Green: turmeric, spirulina extract.
Even the spice behemoth, McCormick offers all-natural food coloring pack derived from plants: vegetables and seeds.

Chefmaster Natural Liqua-Gels to create all-natural, vibrant food coloring -- they even offer Black in their line:

Egg Salad Recipe:
This is my family-favorite Duchess Deviled Egg Recipe that I’m asked to make every year and share with all for Easter Dinner. Placed on the special, pink, petal deviled egg platter - it’s a glamorous presentation. Don’t you just love single-use dishes and tablescape serving pieces? It’s a lost art to find and use them. A pity. My friend, Sean Sullivan, publisher of House Beautiful, Veranda, and Elle at Hearst - also had a blog, Spectacularly Delicious, (for the culinary chic) - more or less dedicated to these single-use, traditional serving dishes.

Back to the Devilishly Delicious Duchess Egg Recipe:

  • Place room temperature eggs into a pot with water covering the eggs. 
  • Bring the water to a boil, cover, remove from heat, allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Add cold water to the pot and remove the eggs. Allow to cool. This method makes it easier to remove the shells, keeps the whites pure - especially important in making egg salad and deviled eggs (no grey or bluish whites.) It also provides a rich, creamy yolk.
  • Six eggs, removed from shells and broken up with a fork. 
  •  Add diced and chopped red onion to taste, even amounts of mayonnaise and sour cream -- I also add a dollop of creme fraiche, teaspoon of chives - or to taste. A ¼ teaspoon of dry mustard, and a splash of briny pickle juice (straight from the jar). 
  • Mix well and refrigerate. Can be used in lettuce wraps or on salad dish with arugula or market-fresh lettuces and asparagus from the garden. 
  •  Sprinkle with good paprika. 
  • Cut the eggs along the length of the egg using a warm knife (running warm water over knife after each cut so that egg debris doesn’t litter up the next egg white. 
  • Remove the yolks from the egg and set aside. 
  • Mix all the above ingredients into the egg yolks, (be sure to dice the red onion very fine.) 
  • Arrange the egg whites on a special deviled egg platter - or use a plate. 
  • Place edible pansies or other flowers around the eggs - not only is it pretty but the blossoms will prevent the eggs from sliding into one another. 
  • Using a pastry bag, pipe the egg yolk mixture into the egg white “shells.” There are swirls and scallops options that will elevate the deviled egg to elegant, edible, entertainment to grace the cocktail bar, brunch or dinner tablescape. 
  • Dust with paprika and garnish with cornichons nestled around those edible flowers.
Food Moves
While for many, there is still a sheltering in place due to the pandemic, albeit even if a bit modified, but if you are traveling or just eating outdoors, there’s the dodgy issue of transporting your homemade menu items to the other end of the celebration. And hopefully, there’s bound to be leftovers, so “Food Moves” is a challenge.

Some years ago I was introduced to the Snapware®: On-the-Go Collection. After all, we are all such a very mobile cohort. We need to take our homegrown food with us - to holiday celebrations - or now that it’s spring - out to enjoy nature at one of the your town or city’s many beautiful parks. The company says, “...The Snapware® brand helps you keep your everyday life in motion, by offering innovative storage products for food and craft supplies, to pet and home products.”

Early on, I test-drove the product line and can heartily recommend the solutions for a number of reasons. One is the containers are made of glass. In a world of too much plastic, including plastic wrap, it’s important to make the switch to storage solutions that are sustainable, clean - and easy to use. The dishes can go from refrigerator to the oven to dishwasher.

I use them at the counter when cooking to hold food scraps - for compost or for a soup’s mirepoix. This tip was given by author and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse at a Snapware cooking demo I attended. He also said using Snapware changed his life. Really?! That’s a bold statement. Lest you think this is brand advocate hyperbole, I can readily assure you it is not. From a cooking and storage and transport standpoint, there is could be no better friend to the home cook and kitchen manager than Snapware. At a recent World Kitchen event, their many American-made brands were on display, including CorningWare | Chicago Cutlery, Corelle and Pyrex. These products are like having your mother helping in the kitchen - smart, experienced and trustworthy - you know you can count on them; they won’t let you down. Further, the line continues to evolve and improve. There are now a number of transportable food storage Snapware containers with Ice Pack included that will keep the food food chilled. The company has designed the containers so that the ice doesn’t melt into the food: the ice pack fits underneath or top of the lid. The sizes range from a 3-cup to a 5-cup container with removable divider trays to keep food elements separated when the ingredients are distinct. All the products in the line are well-made, stackable, and the lids come in happy, bright, crayon colors of blue, green, aqua. Your food will love jumping into these containers and will return the fresh, tasty love.

Here’s Snapware’s impressive specs: The Snapware® Total Solution® Glass containers with inserts complement the growing trend of consumers switching from processed foods to fresh foods in the kitchen. These items combine the Snapware brand’s trusted airtight leak-proof lids with inserts that preserve freshness and encourage healthy eating.

Very affordable price points from $5.99 to $12.99.

There’s also a line of colorful, Snapware® Entertain-A-BowlsTM Line: The new Entertain-a-Bowls are spill-proof, are pretty enough to be used to serve right on the table, as well as storage for an on-the-go foodie obsessed with freshness and carrying handles provide easy chic transportability. All bowls are available in a fun pop of color outside with polished white bow interiors. The bowls are easy on the wallet too; $8.99 to $24.99.

Get these products now for an organized spring cleanup. And use them in your fresh-food prep - and get out to the parks and enjoy the season and nature.  


Happy Natural Spring. Enjoy the Holidays. Cheers!