Plants – and Chickens – on the Table

  • Post published:03/18/2010
  • Post comments:8 Comments

Interior designer Charlotte Moss, writing in today’s New York Times, says she “eschews matching dishes and serving pieces.”  I’m right with her.  White dishes are a basic and table settings can be changed delightfully with linens and accessories, but my daughter bought me these befruited dishes for summer meals.  And I always think if a chicken or two can be added to the table so much the better.  Although it is hard to see the pretty glasses are embossed (I don’t know the right word) with honey bees, which are so important to the garden. I am fortunate that my son’s partner Michelle Willey has a shop in Boston; she always keeps her eye out for things that appeal to our horticultural tastes.

Charlotte Moss says flowers on the table are a must. Some of my favorite flowers are on this table cloth which is really a length of upholstery fabric left over from a love seat I had reupholstered nearly 40 years ago.  Basic white dishes here, but I’ve also used  pink and white dishes with this cloth. Note the beautiful handblown pink wineglass made by our neighbor Bob Dane.

Roses for teatime. What could be more delightful – especially when the view out the window is still of snow covered fields. Friends give me roses as gifts, and sometimes I find an odd rosy plate or jug at an ‘antique’ store.

We would all agree with Charlotte that serving pieces are a way to add interest, possibly horticultural interest, to the table. I had the peony printed oval platter shipped in our crate from China, never dreaming I could have bought it in many inexpensive U.S. stores. The bamboo platter was a gift and perfect for hors d’oevres. I’ve added the Italian pitcher because chickens are always a suitable and charming addition.  Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who once said he hoped he would be worthy of his blue and whites.  My blue and white dishes are not of that class, luckily for me, but blue and white is almost as basic as white.

It was a surprise to me to look around my house and see how many horticultural motifs there are in curtains, duvet covers, and cushions as well as on the table. Does this theme happen to everyone, or just to gardeners?

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Tinky

    Somehow I’m NOT AT ALL surprised to find horticultural motifs in your house. I loved looking at them. We need all the color we can get in this transitional season……

  2. Nan

    Absolutely beautiful, and SO welcoming! I also love your new blog design. It is cheery, and that’s a great photo of you!

  3. BJ Roche

    I always love your tables!

    Going to be hunting for nice tablecloth fabric for you in my travels in France!

  4. Flaneur

    Maybe this is a bragging rights issue, but it is posted simply to celebrate and acknowledge the many dinners Pat has prepared for us over the years. And she has not quite managed to convey – even photographically – the sublime and serene and gorgeous tables she sets. Of course what she has not mentioned is that from her dining room, which is like a large bay, one has a huge window opening onto a mountain top view of the Berkshire hills. But wait – there’s more! Pat’s a wonderful cook and a brilliant baker (despite her deplorable two-cookie rule) and as we gather each time at the table, there is a heartening reassurance, almost a blessing, that one will be well fed. Mirabile dictu! Glorious food suddenly passes back and forth, Pat is up, Henry is carving, Pat is up again, finally we’re all seated, and (and I thought it was never going to happen) the first bite is taken and… Delicious, delicious, delicious! Understand we’re fortunate enough to be at the table of a woman who blithely says, “Oh, it’s just roast chicken” as she presents the table with food too magnificent for the deities. I’d swoon but that might mean I’d miss a bite. And the meal, of course, accompanies, in fact propels, wonderful conversation. Invariably the meal decamps to the living room and its wood stove for coffee and dessert. That can only mean the latest glory from Pat’s baking repertoire.

    Back to Pat’s point: yes one can mix and match dishes. And if you’re as divine a cook as Pat you can be confident that each dish will have never had a moment of glory as fine as when it is the backdrop to her splendid fare. If I were a Limoges luncheon plate I’d count myself among the immortals if I could be of service to a peanut butter sandwich from Pat’s kitchen! Come warmer weather, imagine a meal in her Cottage Ornee, overlooking her garden? Thomas Keller of Per Se and French Laundry fame might well take note should he ever be fortunate enough to snag a reservation Chez Pat! Her garden is, of course, quite fine, too. But the proof of the garden is at the table.

  5. Janice Sorensen

    What a delightful post, including the comment by Flaneur. Really brightened this blustery day. Thanks, Pat!

  6. Lisa at Greenbow

    The garden is alive and well in my home too. I think it even happens to non gardeners. I mean who doesn’t like nature??

  7. Pat

    Tinky – You set beautiful thematic tables. YOu must have lots of tablecloths!
    Nan – Thanks for the kind words about the blog.
    BJ – You also have beautiful table settings – with REAL flowers.
    Flaneur – where would I be without such an audience?
    Janice – Don’t you think everyone should have such a cheerleader as Flaneur?
    Lisa – You are correct – I think most designers find great inspiration in nature and bring it to their work.

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