My Wisteria Tea generally turns out to be a substantial meal, though many of the items on the table come from the cream tea tradition. I lay a buffet on my dining table and set up small tables on both my front and back patios. Laurie and I own lots of 30-inch round tables because, well, we throw lots of parties. We share them for events, and we buy them on sale whenever we see them (usually at Big Lots; you know us – we love a bargain!). You never know what might happen to them -– I once came out of the kitchen during a party just in time to catch one young niece photographing another niece artfully posed on a rapidly collapsing table normally reserved for three seated at, not on the table. Panic ensued as they spotted me and hastily tried to put the table back together–in vain. Those nieces are lovely young ladies now and would never do anything quite so undignified these days – at least not in front of me.
Our nieces have helped assemble flowers at my last couple of teas. Both this year and last, I was in the kitchen while the fabulous table arrangements were magically produced by my floral genius sis, Hellen, and the nieces. This year Hellen had our niece Norah at the flower mart at 6:00 a.m. and back designing at my house before 7:00. We’ve done lots of arrangements in teacups, but this time they chose from my large collection of antique creamers.
Here are some of the results, arrangements so easy an 11-year-old can make them (with some expert advice from one of the best designers in the business!).
Just grab a few of your favorite flowers -– if they’re larger (roses, lilies, ranunculus), it really only takes five or six stems for a small arrangement. If the flowers are smaller (baby roses, sweet peas, daffodils), it will take a few more. Start with three in your hand (think of a triangle) and add a few more on each side. Finish with an edge of something green (three ferns, a couple stems of ivy or three or four sprigs of rosemary –- your own yard may provide endless possibilities). You can wrap them together with a pipe cleaner to hold the shape you’ve created, but if your vase neck is small enough, it will do the job without a pipe cleaner.
Make one for each small table. If you’ve got five tables (for 15 to 20 guests), make five adorable little arrangements. Plan to buy (or, if you’ve got a great garden, cut) 25 to 30 larger flowers, plus some smaller ones for filling in gaps. Hellen used sweet peas to fill in, along with herbs from the garden. That’s it for your small centerpieces – how easy can it get?