Melissa Thomas, founder of the popular flower boutique Flora in West Asheville, explains how to use blooms to decorate a holiday table.
Edible Asheville: If someone were hosting a formal dinner, what type of arrangement would you recommend?
Melissa Thomas: For a sit-down dinner, I would recommend a large, low centerpiece for the center of the table embellished with candlelight.
And what types of flowers could be used?
I would choose flowers based on the china and serving pieces being used and go for a coordinating palate. I always think it is nice to incorporate seasonal, local blooms and foliage. Roses with a mix of greenery for texture are always my go-to.
What types of arrangements would you recommend for a more casual dinner?
I’d opt for a living arrangement, something that can live in your house for at least a season. Orchids are lovely with perhaps an underplanting. Use moss and branches to take it up a notch.
Does the shape and size of the table affect the type of arrangement you use?
Oh, of course. For a rectangle table, I would do something long and sprawling. And for a round table, something more symmetrical, a traditional French round style.
What types of flowers could easily grow in a backyard garden and also be used for a table arrangement?
I love anything herbaceous. I think it enhances the senses to have things that are fragrant and complement the menu. Mint, lavender, and rosemary seem to be the easiest to come by.
Any tips for preserving a floral arrangement? Making the flowers last longer?
To get the greatest longevity from your floral, change out the water often and make sure that all of your stems are in water.
Are there any types of flowers that shouldn’t be used for a dining table (i.e. flowers that have a strong smell)? And if so, why not?
No, I don’t think there’s anything that I wouldn’t ever use. If you like something, there’s generally a way to arrange it on the table. We recently had a dinner party where we used nothing but gardenias, which are very fragrant, but they were a sweet intended nod to a beloved family member.
If someone were looking to be funky or unique with a flower arrangement, what would you recommend?
This completely depends on the style of the event. Sometimes, we like to use seasonal fruits, vegetables, and foraged goods. That might be an idea. ◊◊
Melissa Thomas, founder of Flora