Flower Class: A Table for your Valentine


Say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day with a charming and easy table setting.

Start first with covering the table itself. I used a fringed neck scarf in soft red stripes (you can find an endless variety of beautiful scarves in stores, and their size makes a perfect table runner), and spread it out on my gate-leg table. Twin sheets work great for tablecloths, too [Walmart @ $5] and they come in many colors.

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Once I covered my table, I looked around for basic plates, napkins and glasses to go on it. By the way, these napkins are red square dishcloths [Crate&Barrel] and they’re perfect! I also collected some red and white votive candles, assorted Valentine candies and some cute little truffle boxes to set on the plates. Next, it was time for a centerpiece.


Flowering cyclamen plants are an absolute favorite of mine. They are very hardy in winter, they bloom for months, and come in beautiful shades of red, pink, coral and white.

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I bought the red cyclamen plants in these photos three (yes, 3) full months ago and they are still going strong! I used them in a Christmas table settings class I taught in early November, and you see how IMG_1839great they look even in February! (I kept them in a pot just outside my front door except when I wanted them on display inside, and the cold night temperatures definitely contributed to their longevity.) The only extra attention I gave them was to just keep them “groomed” [see Potted Plants post].

These lovely flowers are also perfect for Valentine’s Day — because their little blossoms look just like hearts! Adorable!

To create my centerpiece, I placed 3 cyclamen plants in a round white ceramic container – it couldn’t be easier. Remember, any container would work and change the “look.” Imagine how fabulous they’d look in a round silver bowl, for example.

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Next, it was time to set the table: beautiful centerpiece of red flowers in the center, then white plates, folded red “napkins,” smaller patterned plates on top, silverware and goblets.

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Whenever I am setting a table, I always try to find a few small accessories to scatter around my centerpiece. This is one of those easy but so important details that make a huge difference in the finished look of your beautiful creation.DSC_0848

 Notice in the photos the way I did this — using two kinds of votive candles, as well as a variety of Valentine candies just scattered over the table.

Anything you can use to visually “anchor” the centerpiece to the table has a powerful effect – I call it the “petal effect,” because it’s the same effect we create when we do wedding centerpieces and scatter rose petals on the tables around them. It’s one of those easy extra touches that make a world of difference in how your finished tablescape looks.


I am fond of pitchers of all kinds. I love their curvaceous shapes, and their narrow necks make arranging fresh flowers easier because a narrower opening keeps their stems from flopping over.

 IMG_0545This photo shows a bunch of gorgeous red camellias I arranged in a white pitcher a few weeks ago.

[Tip: if you gather the stems into the shape you want and rubber-band them together before putting in water, they will keep their shape perfectly.]



The flowers themselves only lasted a few days, and once they wilted, I picked them off and kept the leaves intact. Fresh green leaves last much longer than the flowers that are attached to them, so why not take advantage of that? In fact, these camellia leaves still looked perfect after 3 weeks so I couldn’t throw them away


I gathered up some lifelike artificial flowers (in this case, red roses andDSC_0812 hydrangeas) from the craft store, and just poked their stems into the leaves, filling the spaces where the real flowers had been. I love doing this – combining “fresh” with “fake” because it creates such a wonderful effect, and the possibilities are literally endless!

I want to say something about this concept, because people are usually very surprised when they see me combining fresh and artificial floral materials together. It seems to be a foreign idea to almost everyone.

Let’s think about what’s motivating you to create a floral art project in the first place. Usually, it is to create something that looks beautiful and fresh, something that delights the senses – and most of all, gives you a sense of creative satisfaction. So I say: use whatever materials you can find to make that happen, and if some of them are created by humans and not by Nature, why not?

Don’t get yourself stuck on “shoulds” or “the rules” – because I’ve never been able to discover a single rule anywhere that limits what materials can be used together! This is all about inventive play and trying new things – so just forget about the imaginary Flower Police and do what intrigues you. And always remember YOU ARE THE ONE IN CHARGE! Have fun and if you like the way your arrangement looks, awesome! If not, keep tweaking it till you do.

One more step:

Now let’s go back to the last centerpiece so I can show you a final fun touch DSCN3004that will take it to another level. In the photos you’ll see something called wired metallic DSCN3007garland, and you can find it at craft stores. I took a long piece of it and double-wrapped it around the pitcher, and just like that – you’ve added sparkle and pizazz to your floral design.


Now light the candles, turn on some romantic music – and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebration.


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