So you’re throwing a little get together this weekend and want to decorate your table. You think to yourself, “I’ll just pick up some flowers at store.” When you get there, you are met with hideous neon-tinted flowers, and other not-so-inspiring finds. Not exactly the vision you had in your head of some beautifully arranged blossoms like those you see in the pages of Martha Stewart Living or House Beautiful or even Southern Living for that matter.
Here in South Florida, we can’t even grow the beautiful blooms you find amidst most of the pages of such magazines. But I’m here to tell you that, more than likely, you have everything you need right outside your door to create a beautiful, thoughtful table that connects your home to its exterior and cherishes the unique nature of our South Florida landscape.
This gorgeous table was created using only common landscape plants that are easily found here in South Florida. Let’s break this down…
Phoenix Roebelini is a common landscape palm. The fronds are great alone in a large vase or as used here for the second layer of the table. Use clippers to cut the full leaf off. And then to cut the stem off if using right away. If you plan to cut the day before, cut off all the spikes and put in a bucket of water for use later. Be careful with this. The spikes can be painful. Handle leaves by the soft side and you will be fine. For this arrangement I also cut off and used the female infructescence (the fruit). A group of these also look great flopping out of a minimalist or natural looking vase. Just weight the bottom with rocks as these are heavy. You can see a close up of these here.
I have to be honest with you, I REALLY don’t like crotons. It seems like the developers in South Florida slap these things in front of every cookie-cutter, tiled-roofed, mass produced house down here, not to mention every shopping center, office complex, you name it. And you know why? Because it requires essentially no care in the South Florida landscape! As such it has become ubiquitous and boring in the landscape. BUT look what happens when you remove the leaves and pair it with other things from the garden and layer them on your table! All of the sudden you can appreciate this plant from a different perspective and admire its interesting leaves! What was once ordinary becomes extraordinary! :)
It’s all around. You just have to snip a few pieces. With this one you will need to mind the thorns as well. I recommend wearing gloves and snipping the thorns off or just push them from the side with your thumb and they will pop off. It’s best to cut this the day before or day of and keep in water, otherwise it will dry and start to drop its bracts. The bracts are actually what's colorful on this plant, not the flowers which are pretty inconspicuous.
This is another common ornamental shrub found around South Florida. When you take cuttings from this, remove each stem’s lower leaves and get it into water as soon as possible. The tips will start to droop, but give them a couple hours and they will re-hydrate themselves.
Another common landscape plant, Mexican Honeysuckle is easy peasy. Just cut stems, remove leaves, put in water. The flowers add a nice texture that is different than the other in the mix.
This one you may have outside or often inside. But you can cut pieces of it and add it to the arrangement. I have a plant perched up high and it grows long lengths of leaves that I cut for this table and wound through the arrangement.
Creating the Arrangement
For this table, I used all of the above and bought a bunch of lemons, limes and two types of oranges as well as a couple starfruit. (I probably don’t need to say this, but just in case, take all the UPC stickers off the fruit ;) )
This table is all about layering…
1. Start by arranging the bougainvillea, Mexican honeysuckle and thryallis in various bud vases. For this tablescape I used two types of vases from CB2 which you can find here, but any small bud vases, small glass cups or even shot glasses can work. Put a piece or two of each of the types of flowers in each.
2. Next to start layering the table, put down a natural runner (This one is from Target and can be found here.) This helps act as a guide for containing the arrangement and protects the table.
3. Next, depending on the length of your table, layer in 2-4 of the Phoenix Roebelini leaves, with wider part of the leaves layering in the middle and the ends of the leaves to the ends of the table.
4. Now’s the time to place the candlesticks and bud vases. Before the layers get too lumpy, find a home from these items. I started with the taller bud vases (of which there are 3), then placed the lower ones alternating between them (4) and then spaced out the candlesticks all around. Pull pieces of the phoenix roebelini out from under the items to cover the feet of the candlesticks so that everything looks nestled in.
5. Next, put out the groupings and singles of fruit, including roebelini seeds. Mix up colors, keep some the same. Make it look as random as possible as if they were just scattered on the table.
6. Start tucking in the croton leaves. It may seem logical to put the croton leaves down first and then the fruit on top. But I find that this just flattens everything out. When you tuck them in after, you can put some under the fruit to frame it and also put some leaves in from the top and sides and between the bud vases and candles to give the table more vertical dimension.
7. Wind in the pothos pieces through the tablescape.
8. Light the candles and enjoy!
If you'd like to know how to make the bright and beautiful ice-dyed napkins that we used on this table, you can find a tutorial here!
I'd love to know how this works out for you if you try it. So leave me a comment and of course any questions you have!
Love where you live! Cheers!