Margot Shaw, Editor-in-Chief at Flower Magazine, joins us this July Market to celebrate the release of her newest book, Living Floral: Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers. We chatted with Margot before the hustle at Market so we could ask a few questions and learn more about her book.
What is the best way to dress up a table in a pinch? Of COURSE, I’m going to say flowers!
It can be as simple as Old-Fashioned or double Old-Fashioned glasses filled with herbs cut from your garden or, flowers of all one kind and color from the grocery store. In repetition down the table or in front of each place setting – the effect is attractive, elegant, and best of all, really simple to achieve. Fill in with votive candles if it’s an evening party and you’re set.
For a causal gathering, what do you think is the most important detail to make it look put together? I think purposeful organization provides a sense of chic and thoughtfulness. If your vision is for guests to help themselves, then place the bar in an early and obvious location, and add a tub of iced soft drinks, beers, and waters nearby as well. Include hors d’oeuvres throughout in bowls or on trays, in strategic spots. As dinner approaches, (and I’m assuming a buffet since it’s a casual affair) be sure that all elements are easily accessible and room temperature so that people can eat at their leisure and you’re not concerned about things staying hot. The most important detail to make a casual gathering look put together is the host being casual and put together!
What is your favorite flower to make a big statement?
Any flowers, in the same palette, in large quantities makes a big statement. OR, all green can be impactful. Some -times I’ll cut magnolia branches and fill the fireplace, urns on the mantle and weave together a table runner with them. It’s very southern, simple, and again, (see question 1) repetition is a really easy route to a “wow” moment.
What is your favorite flower by season?
I do like seasonal flowers for several reasons: 1. They are readily available 2. They’re more hardy 3. They are kinder and gentler to the environment, as they have not been flown in from some distant land 4. A seasonal flower can denote the time of year and sets the tone for any gathering. For example, dahlias are an informal early FALL flower in the South, and they impart those two ideas. Evergreens and berries, in season in WINTER, signal the season and are beautiful and accessible. Where I live, quince and forsythia herald the SPRING and there’s nothing more evocative than a tall cylinder filled with blooming spring branches.
In SUMMER, I think whatever is prospering in the garden is dreamy and fitting: garden roses, hydrangea, phlox, cosmos, marigolds, begonias, etc.
Where do you recommend purchasing flowers for those without access to a wholesaler?
There are now flower farms popping up all over. In Birmingham we have a floral co-op that features the bounty from several local growers, so look into that in your area. Also, many flower shops will sell fresh flowers by the bunch, or individual stems. Last but not least, the grocery store.
I think I’d have to say, the al fresco luncheon at Charlotte Moss’s East Hampton home. I loved watching her pull together the most inviting and enjoyable tableau that reflected her voice and style – chic with ease. Included were lavish roses from her garden, lattice trimmed china of her own design that echoed some of the garden architecture, a crisp Provencal print table-cloth, and a nod to her Southern roots, home-brewed iced-tea in vintage hand-painted glasses. It wasn’t fancy, or elaborate, but communicated such welcome and fresh beauty. I was inspired.
What is the most impactful way to use flowers and plants to enhance a showroom or shop? Back to my answer about seasonality. I would say selecting blooms or greenery that trumpet the season and placing them in areas that you want to highlight can be most effective in drawing the eye to certain pieces, and helps a customer envision the product in situ. Some may blanch when I say this, but I truly believe there is a place for really high-quality, well crafted “faux flowers”.
They last, obviously, and can be brought back the next year. They are not my first choice, but can be the right choice for some.
Be sure to join Margot on Thursday, July 11 at 10 a.m. for her discussion with David Reiss, Jared Hughes, and Clary Bosbyshell. A book signing with Margot is to follow.