In Ancient Egypt, temples were filled with narcissus, acacia, and sacred lotus blossoms. During the span of the Roman Empire, Nero and Cleopatra adorned their banquet tables with abandon, layering them lavishly with rose blossoms and petals. Cut, arranged flowers as we know them became intrinsic to a dinner table in the early 19th century, and in Victorian times, this expanded to the use of smilax vines and ethereal varieties of fern. We don’t think there are rules around arranging—so when it comes to diversifying displays of flora, we love incorporating fruits, vegetables, and herbs for depth of texture and color.
We especially love how this makes use of everything that’s available in the current moment; depending on the season, we can dream up designs and arrangements that incorporate the full “atmosphere” (if you will) of the mood and time of year. Summer arrangements can be lush with tomato vines, for example—and its cold-weather counterpart could include the bright surprise of an orange.
Designing with Food
Designing with food is usually designing with a different part of the plant or the flower after it’s been pollinated—there’s such a wide variety of materials you can use, from berries on branches, to ornamental kale, kumquat, and citrus. For example, we love to cut the citrus and treat medallions of citrus as blooms; using dried citrus in the fall and winter is reminiscent of the holidays, as something that was historically considered to be a luxury, holiday-only item.
A Few Ideas
The folding in of fruit and vegetables can offer seasonal color and fragrance, while adding volume and character to your arrangement. Often, the result can evoke an old-world still life painting. We like to play with ornamental bananas, amaranth, tomatoes on the vine, ornamental eggplant (that looks like tiny pumpkins!), peppers, and gourds. Artichokes can work as a stand-in for protea; cabbages and kale can make hearty centerpieces; an aromatic, herbal bouquet can be made with a base of lavender, rosemary, and thyme.