Creating Lush Vegetable Bouquets
May 19, 2014
By Karin Lidbeck Brent
Last summer while touring the farmer’s market I conceived of the idea of creating arrangements with vegetables. The incredible abundance of colorful produce with their rich textures and unusual shapes sparked the idea that became an exciting project. Suddenly my trips to the farmers’ market became a totally new visual experience as I explored the idea of vegetables as decor.
I wanted to create a look of rustic elegance so I decided to use vessels of silver plate and sterling. The contrast of the organic earthy vegetables against the formal polished or tarnished silver is very sexy. The champagne bucket makes an impressive base for a burst of Swiss chard, Asian eggplants, collards, and turnip leaves. Start by filling a container with a wet floral oasis and then add water. To display the eggplants secure the vegetable with wooden skewers at the base and push into the oasis. The greens can then be used to fill-out the arrangement.
Photography by Andre Baranowski
While the farmer’s market is a great resource for fresh vegetables, the best deal is picking them straight from the vegetable garden. Don’t pass over the bug eaten leaves, weeds, and wildflowers that grow along the edge of the garden. These all reveal the cycles of life that make your arrangement real and natural. The arrangement below was built around a small head of cabbage cut with its long stalk. I designed this to reflect the wild feeling of the August garden. The wilted squash blossoms, wildflowers, and beautiful foliage will last for days as long as they are placed in water.
Seeing bundles and bundles of radishes in big piles of amazing shades of pinks, purples, and white made my jaw drop. They reminded me of roses and inspired the simple idea of creating small radish bouquets. Wrap bundles of radishes and their leaves with rubber bands. Use three or four bundles to fill the container and keep the stalks long so they reach the water in the pitcher.
When I started to work on this project, I was introduced to Nancy Stuckwisch of Silver Magpies. Nan is an expert on vintage silver and her passion for collecting and using it everyday is inspiring. We talked about my project, and she was so enthusiastic about it, she made the trek all the way from Virginia to Connecticut to supply me with the most beautiful selection of vintage vessels I have ever seen.
The sculptural shapes and variety of summer vegetables should be celebrated. This charming gravy boat lent itself perfectly to miniature peppers, wax beans, squashes, and herbs.
You can read more about these vegetable arrangements in the summer issue of Better Homes and Gardens’ Country Gardens magazine.