By Jill Brooke
It is no surprise that Larry Walshe was on the shortlist of floral artists the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) tapped to present for its first online Chelsea Flower Show.
In London, Walshe is the Roger Federer of flowers. Not only has this florist and event designer won enough prizes to fill any trophy case but he also has the advantage of being universally loved. And don’t forget, the prizes he’s winning are from British judges, the most discerning critics and botany-obsessed people on the planet!
When Walshe presented a tutorial on creating chic table settings, he did it before a global audience since it is the first time in its history that the storied flower show is being held virtually.
“This is a masterclass teaching viewers how to create the perfect table for at-home entertaining,” says Walshe. “This might be outdoors or inside but whichever way you choose to do it, it hopefully inspired you whilst on lockdown to still celebrate any special occasions that may be occurring during this time and take your table from bleak to chic!”
We love that idea and couldn’t agree more with the logic. You not only eat with your eyes but a pretty table makes the food taste better too.
Considering that most of us will be primarily eating at home for many months, this is both practical and helpful.
Walshe points out that this effort shouldn’t be limited for small celebrations.
“No one needs an excuse for entertaining,” he says. “So if it’s just simply a Friday night but you want to make it special for dinner à deux or if you are honing your newly found skills for when guests are once again allowed over the threshold, anything goes!”
Here’s a taste of the things we learned in Walshe’s class, which will be online for one week and will also be on his Youtube channel.
1. How to create a petit hand-tied design – Consider using rosemary and putting it together with a leftover smaller peony. Then tie it together and tuck it into a napkin for a fragrant touch.
2. The importance and ways of working with mixed textures and proportions – Remember, he says, that spring flowers are often delicate and vulnerable such as the hellebores and sweet peas. Start with a strong bloom like the peony and then add the more delicate flowers.
3. Novel ways to accessorize your tablescape to result in a memorable setting – You can stay in one color pattern like white and create something special. It’s the variety that can add the spice such as how he used stocks, scabiosa, ranunculus, sweet peas, hellebores and peonies. A bonus tip. “Cut off the tops of the stocks.” This way you have more plump fluffy flowers that are great additions into any flower arrangement. Also consider having lots of the same color vases to line up on the table bookending your main vase.
I got to experience his artistry at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show when he decorated the entrance for the boutique hotel 11 Cadogan Gardens like Neptune’s throne—and natch won first prize—as well as when he was the florist chosen by master gardener Sarah Kowitz for her anniversary party. He has also won prizes for work he has done for London storefronts.
What’s on the horizon for Walshe now that so many big events that were scheduled for the near future have been shuttered? There’s some good news.
“We are preparing to launch a game-changing flower delivery service which will operate nationwide in the UK,” he says.
Like flowers, the great florists are learning to be adaptive and resilient during this time since many large weddings and hotel events are on pause. This venture—or adventure, we should say—will be a boon for the public, since it will allow more people to personally experience Walshe’s legendary work.
Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Larry Walshe
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.