In 2021, entertaining is all about the garnish. From food, to the table setting, to the surrounding decor.

While lockdown may have kept us from our favourite dining spots during the COVID-19 pandemic, that didn’t stop Aussies from pursuing a long lunch or dinner date with those they love best at home (when permitted and socially distanced of course).

Our recent study found one in three Australians have increased home entertaining during the pandemic, and plan to continue into 2021. So with intimate gatherings firmly on the menu for the year ahead, coupled with the lust to bring more greenery into our homes, Greener Spaces Better Places is predicting 2021 to be the year of the garnish in home entertaining – hero-ing the bounty of nature.

Greener Spaces Better Places spoke to three experts across styling, herbalism, and plant-based cooking to gauge the top tips for the entry-level to the expert entertainer.

 

#1 Entry level: Leafy statements & overhead vines

Image credit: Ksennia Lopyreva @pexels

Ben Alcaraz, plant stylist and interior designer told Greener Spaces Better Places a simple way to style your entertaining areas is to add large statement plants and always go by the rule of ‘third’ like things exist in nature. Use plant stands to help elevate some plants to add texture to the space.

Such as; set a Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) on a plant stand, next to a Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). Next to this, place a large tree philodendron (Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum) with broad leaves on the floor, to help tie everything together. The contrast in these plants’ leaves will work to add variation in texture.

Another eye-catching way to style plants in an entertaining area is to hang plants from the ceiling. A few trailing plants overhead really creates a talking point such as the devil’s ivy or spider plant.

 

#2 Intermediate: A pop of petals & edible colour

Image credit: @thesecretkitchen

Jana Brunclikova, plant-based chef, naturopath and herbalist, told Greener Spaces Better Places small indoor herb gardens or potted flowers bring relaxing colors into homes and stimulate our senses too, transforming any kitchen or dining area into an inviting retreat.

Edible flowers particularly, can be plucked straight from the (windowsill) garden and placed on top as a beautiful garnish on cakes or salads.

Nasturtium: This easy-to-grow ground cover has edible leaves with strong peppery flavours and flowers that work well in salads, and support a healthy liver and gallbladder

Viola: These make a lovely potted colour display for your entertaining area or simply use as a pop of colour and elegance atop salads.

Marigold: The bitterness of the marigold pairs well with sweet dishes. While growing, it also acts as a companion, pest-deterring plant for its neighbours.

Note: Most edible flowers are extremely delicate and don’t preserve well, so it is best to eat them just after they are picked from your home garden.

 

#3 Expert: Table settings & storytelling

Image credit: Gillian Vann @ Stocksy

As Shannon Martinez from Smith and Daughters tells Greener Spaces Better Places, a fabulous way to bring the atmosphere to life is to tie the flavours and theme of your meal in with your table setting. 

For example, for a middle eastern theme, decorate the space with big beautiful artichokes in vases and put fig leaves and citrus onto the table. Pop fresh sprigs of herbs across plates or even scatter whole spices about.

When telling the tale of your meal through your table setting, you can also offer your friends and loved ones the opportunity to spice it up to their liking! Add a fresh pot of coriander/basil/oregano/ripe-chillies to the centrepiece, alongside some sharp scissors, and they can pluck their preference straight from the soil. 

Then at the end of the night, everyone can take home the table setting like a goodie bag!

There you have it – level up your hosting prowess and bring nature into the fold of your family and friend time with these expert styling tips – mingle under hanging ivy’s, bring the visual feast to life with edible flowers, and tell a delicious tale through centerpiece herb pots and vases of garden produce. Because in 2021, it’s all about garnishing dinner dates and long lunches with mother nature. 

For bespoke advice on which plants will suit your kitchen and dining environment perfectly, drop into your local plant nursery and have a chat with the experts.

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