What is the most important element when setting a table for an informal terrace or garden lunch? To my mind, it has to be the flowers every time! Here, for a spring al fresco lunch, I worked with one of my favourite florists, McQueens London, to stagger white Narcissi across lots of groups of luxury decorative vases. The scent was simply divine and the overall effect really fun. In the countryside, I often just pick flowers from my garden and loosely arrange them myself, but for formal entertaining, nothing beats the mastery of a florist like McQueens. They organise and arrange everything beautifully and always seem to get the most gorgeous, seasonal flowers, in a vast array of colours!
My go-to showroom for fun, picnic-style, lunch settings is fortunately on Walton Street, just a hop, skip and a jump from my own boutique. Nina Campbell is the queen of colourful accessoires. Her windows always inspire me and she has the most fabulous collection of colourful glassware, shagreen cutlery and table linen. Here, I picked her ripple, hand-crafted, blue, glass tumblers; the movement in the glass is gorgeous and really catches the eye. These are complemented by Nina’s green, shagreen knives and forks, which stand out against fresh, white, linen napkins to complete the overall, funky yet luxurious vibe. Nina has such fabulous taste; never taking herself too seriously and not afraid to embrace colour, fun shapes and patterns. Every piece is always exquisitely crafted.
I am sure I am not alone in being hugely inspired by the wonderful array of table settings and linens by Mrs Alice. She has put a wonderful, classic, “English country” spin on the trend for tablescaping and I adore her patterned tablecloths. Here, I used the Bluebell Garden table cloth; the scrolling botanical pattern has a gorgeous Persian feel to it, creating the perfect backdrop for a ravishing, terrace, lunch party.
Another detail that should not be overlooked when creating an elegant garden dining area is the furniture. Too much garden furniture is unattractive, blocky, heavy and lacking in grace. I am drawn instead to the simple elegance and fine lines of Mckinnon and Harris‘ outdoor range. Here, I used “duVal” in light finishes and kept the styling beautifully simple: white and green hydrangeas; a pristine white linen table cloth; and accents of orange on the glassware.
The final flourish has to to be the food. I do love to cook, but one secret tip must be having a fabulous chef or baker up your sleeve! Be it a colourful, mouth-watering salad or a showstopper Victoria sponge, decorated with fresh flowers and fruit, a beautiful centerpiece will transfix your guests and add a little extravagance that everyone can enjoy to enhance the occasion.