Today, I’ve set a summer table with beautiful Portmeirion Botanic Garden dishes. Each piece is hand painted — in exquisite detail — with blossoms and butterflies, and an iconic border of green laurel leaves. Some are also decorated with the occasional garden insect, and my personal favorite — a bee!
A true British classic, Botanic Garden was designed by celebrated ceramicist and designer Susan Williams-Ellis. In 1960, she took over the business from her father, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, an architect and creator of Portmeirion Village in North Wales.
While looking through rare books, Williams-Ellis discovered a volume of beautiful, meticulously drawn floral illustrations. In 1972, Portmeirion‘s launch of Botanic Garden tableware included 28 different flowers. It was an immediate success, and is still an active pattern.
This year, the company is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the collection with a special edition, 18 piece dinnerware set. Inspired by classic English picnic hampers, the 2022 Botanic Garden exclusive comes in a willow basket lined with removable fabric. Bee still my heart!
Alas, the Botanic Garden dishes currently in full bloom on the kitchen table are only on a short flowering season. My neighbor, L, generously and enthusiastically agreed to lend the tableware so that I could style a new setting for June’s Summer Tablescape Blog Hop. For those coming from Mary’s nautical table on Home is Where the Boat Is, welcome aboard!
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Garden on Loan
I have long admired L’s extensive collection of Botanic Garden dishes. Displayed in a lighted kitchen cabinet are but a few of her many items.
It all started in the early 1990’s. That’s when L’s sister returned from a London honeymoon, and gifted her a pair of Botanic Garden candlesticks. Shown in the picture above, they are L’s sentimental favorites.
Since then, L and her family and friends have continually added to the collection. Today, she has service for 18!
Plus, there are so many serving pieces, bakeware, and other accessories, I found it impossible to count! There’s even a tissue box!
L uses her Botanic Garden dishes for both everyday and special occasions. Crafted from high-quality earthenware with vivid glazes, the tableware is safe in microwave, freezer and dishwasher. And, even in ovens up to 340 degrees Fahrenheit.
Garden Pattern Continues to Grow
If you visited L’s home, you’d be sure she must own one of every Botanic Garden piece ever made. Well, you’d be wrong! When I looked up the pattern on Replacements, it generated a list of 72 pages — mind boggling!
Since it’s introduction fifty years ago, Portmeirion has expanded the collection exponentially, with a full line of coordinating table setting and serving pieces. Today, there’s even square plates, glassware and linens.
With so many pieces to choose from, I was like a kid in a candy store lol!
Inspired by 19th century botanical illustrations, the mix and match floral motifs in Botanic Garden dishes bring a bit of nature and an English garden to the tabletop.
Since I was only setting a table for four over the Memorial Day weekend, it was nearly impossible to chose! So, I decided to create a three plate stack to maximize the number of Botanic Garden dishes set on the garden theme table.
If it wasn’t for the need to photograph the summer tablescape for the blog hop, I would have eliminated the underlying sheer cloth on the round glass table. But, it helped to reduce glare and confusing reflections.
After having those issues with the Palms, Parrots & Paradise Tropical Tablescape, I learned my lesson!
Instead, I layered round, scalloped-edge placemats on top of the cloth —alternating the green and yellow around the table. Each quilted placemat (Mas d’Owan) is also beautifully embroidered with lovely details, including a circle of flowers.
In the center, a fifth yellow mat underlies a Botanic Garden teapot, sugar, creamer, and frog salt and pepper shakers. Each frog is decorated with a flower on it’s back.
Before bringing the precious Botanic Garden dishes over from next door, I “planted” a garden scene overhead. As regular followers know, I often extend the tablescape by going vertical.
Decorating the chandelier was quick and easy. First, I wound two faux dogwood garlands around the light fixture — starting from the ceiling and working down. Next, I draped greenery over the six arms of the chandelier.
Finally, I inserted two large butterfly fabric bows into the center of the fixture. It’s the same fabulous ribbon incorporated into the Bee Wreath and Skep that hangs on the interior kitchen door — which also coordinates nicely with the summer tablescape.
I already had all the decorative elements from the Decorated Chandelier Compliments HapBEE Birthday Table. It’s one of many Buzzworthy Bee Theme Ideas. However, I elected not to use the bee pot hangers. They looked too cartoonish with the realistic illustrations on the Botanic Garden dishes.
Now, it was time to layer three different plates at each setting. That allowed me to maximize the variety of flower and butterfly illustrations on the summer garden table. Still, L and I had a tough time choosing!
Here are the four dinner plates we settled on. Because they are on the bottom of the plate stack, I created this photo collage to show you each illustration.
Can you choose a favorite? Or, perhaps you have a particular flower you’re partial to?
Next in the stack are luncheon size Botanic Garden dishes. See the bee on the bottom left plate? Guess who selected that pattern dish lol!
Topping the stack are salad or dessert-size plates.
Do you have any Botanic Garden dishes blooming at your home?
Butterfly Napkin Fold
Flanking each dish stack are my copper, twig-handle flatware (Pier 1 years ago) to compliment the Botanic Garden dishes. Rather than cover the illustrations on the top plates, I layed a butterfly-shape folded napkin over each fork. Even the fabric napkins carry the Botanic Garden pattern.
Do they resemble butterflies to you? Sure hope so! I was so excited when I found a tutorial online.
The butterfly is the 21st napkin fold I’ve incorporated into various theme settings and buffet tables. See them all in, Napkin Folds for All Seasons, Holidays & Occasions.
As napkin folds go, the butterfly shape is pretty quick and easy. Plus, no napkin ring or ribbon is necessary. If you want to give it a try, check out YouTube tutorial by Folding And Art Tutorial.
If napkin folding doesn’t appeal to you, here’s another inexpensive and easy option to enhance a summer, bridal or wedding table.
Easy Floral Napkin Rings
Before finding the butterfly fold, I originally made flower napkin rings for the summer tablescape. With florals 50% off at Michaels, I purchased a cluster of five faux pink roses. Most types of blooms would probably work as napkin rings.
First, I clipped the flowers apart, leaving long stems with leaves attached. Using a small piece of floral tape, I then covered the exposed wire at the tips. After that, I curved each stem into a ring. Voila!
Pretty as they looked, I preferred the butterfly napkin fold to go with the Botanic Garden dishes. First, the butterfly fit perfectly with the theme of the table — and I am the Queen of Theme lol! Plus, it opens easily and goes right on the lap.
Since space was limited on the summer table, the butterfly fold was also the more practical choice. With a flower napkin ring, guests might have struggled to find a place to put it on the small round tabletop.
Which do you prefer?
Like the napkins, I didn’t want to cover the floral and butterfly design of the top plate with another dish.
So I positioned the matching bowls above the forks; to the left of each setting.
Like the other Botanic Garden dishes, each is decorated with a variety of classic illustrations.
Laurel Leaf Glassware
After L did a show and tell of her collection of dishes and accessories, she opened another cabinet full of glassware.
The pressed crystal (Villeroy and Boch, Miss Desiree, 1999-2019) has a raised laurel pattern that coordinates perfectly with Botanic Garden dishes.
For the summer garden table, I elected to use her stemmed water goblets. L also has matching highballs. And in keeping with the garden table theme, resting on the rim is either a butterfly or bird place card.
Both packages were originally purchased for the Alice in Wonderland and Alfresco Unbirthday Party Tables. You might also remember them decorating the Pretty Flower Napkin, tucked into the glasses on the Tweet Turquoise Early Spring Table.
Originally, I had purchased miniature, faux flower pots (only $1 on sale at Michaels) to lean a place card in front of. Instead, I just used the flower pots to decorate the garden theme table. You might have noticed them at the top/middle of each plate stack?
Adjacent to each glass is a Botanic Garden pattern coffee mug. Not only did I have to choose between floral patterns, but also the style of dish. That’s because L also has another full set of beautiful cups and saucers! However, the tea cups took up too much space on the small round table.
Perched on each mug is a Botanic Garden tea spoon. I purchased the beautifully packaged set of six for my neighbor as a thank you gift.
Lack of Green Thumb
Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb! Now living in a senior community in Charleston, she continues to tend her collection of bonsai and orchids. Mom also helps with floral arrangements at the church, and seasonal planters around the community’s gazebo. Nearby, Sistah B and my niece (who both inherited green DNA) benefit from having mom’s expertise and help around their homes.
I manage okay with an herb garden and potted planters on the front and back porch, but that’s about the extent of it.
Summertime Settings Galore
Of the 23 tables included in the blog hop, at least six carry a garden theme. A number of the talented table stylists participating in this event — like our hostess Rita of Panoply — are also fabulous gardeners. So I was relieved that Mary’s table today — which immediately precedes me — was set on her boat and not extraordinary garden and she shed!
Bee sure to check out all the tables below; including those set alfresco, or with patriotic, nautical, beach, and other summertime themes.
Pandora’s Box – Stars, Stripes, and Checks – A Summer Tablescape
Bluesky at Home – Easy Summer Outdoor Table Ideas
Life and Linda – A Taste of the Tropics
Corner of Plaid and Paisley – Yellow and Blue Alfresco Setting
Everyday Living – Celebrate Summer With The Red, White and Blue
Panoply – Summer Garden Party Tablescape
Hyacinths for the Soul – Tis the Season of Patriotic Tablescapes
Home is Where the Boat Is – Anchors Aweigh on the Pontoon
Debbee’s Buzz ✿ Botanic Garden Floral & Butterfly Summer Table
My Hubbard Home – Easy Alfresco Dining Table | Tips for Summer
Me and My Captain – Camping, Fishing And Summertime Fun
Thrifting Wonderland – Butterfly Garden Table Setting
My Thrift Store Addiction – Honeysuckle and Hydrangeas Summer Tablescape
The Little Yellow Corner Store – Sweet Old Summertime
Red Cottage Chronicles – Dining Al Fresco – A Summer Tablescape
Celebrate and Decorate – Designing a Bright & Cheery Summer Citrus Tablescape
From My Carolina Home – Summer Sunshine Tablescape and Hop
Living With Thanksgiving – Summer Celebrations
Zucchini Sisters – Red and White Tablescape in the Park
The Bookish Dilettante – Beach Reading Tablescape
The Painted Apron – Let’s Go Fishing
Belle Bleu Interiors – A Summertime Luncheon in the Garden
Dinner at Eight – Summertime Blossoms on the Table
Recalibrating at Home
As explained in, Step Inside the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, I thought I’d be vacationing in France right now. Missing the tablescape hop, I planned to purchase beautiful linens while in Provence, and then set a new summer table later in the season.
So when we had to cancel the trip, Rita noted that some tablescape therapy might be just the thing to help me out of my Debbee Downer state of mind. It’s been a pleasant diversion and I’m so looking forward to visiting each of these wonderful ladies’ tables.
P.S. My Scottie dog Whiskey’s benign tumor continues to slowly recede and the infection is totally gone. Today, we are back at the vet for his third long-lasting antibiotic injection. We are all hoping that he won’t have to wear the darn cone much longer. It’s been a long two months! But, I’m so grateful he didn’t need surgery, and it isn’t cancer that would have cost him the entire leg.
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I regularly participate in: Metamorphous Monday, Centerpiece Wednesday, Share Your Style, Tablescape Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Fabulous Friday, Saturday Sparks, Happiness is Homemade, and Love Your Creativity.
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