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Centerpieces with Fruit and Flowers

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2007

What do you get when you pair luscious fruit and gorgeous flowers? The perfect marriage, of course. Together, they evoke not just romance but a satisfying sense of abundance. The smooth surface of a plum or solid shape of a pear add a contrasting -- and appetizing -- weight to dainty blooms and tender buds. For Ariella Chezar, the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., floral designer who created our centerpieces, there's a seasonal seduction, too. "When you use fragrant winter citrus or summer berries, you're celebrating the glories of the moment," she says. "And fruit is richly colored. It often mimics the tones of flowers blooming in the same season." Think of plump peaches and orange dahlias, or juicy raspberries and pink roses.

Following nature's lead, Chezar leaves the fruit on the vines or branches, arranging them so they arch alluringly; you'll find them in this form at farms, farmers' markets, and orchards (be sure berries that come from the florist are also edible). Look for peaches, plums, and berries during the summer and citrus in winter and early spring.

Full of Flavor
Chezar put this generous centerpiece in a footed compote to provide height and let the fruit cascade. Since the arrangement is the table's star, the linens and place settings are simple; the tablecloth, a double-faced peach linen, picks up the color of the fruit and blooms while the cotton seersucker napkins, folded into pinwheels, and casual pale-pink tumblers and goblets evoke the breeziness of a garden lunch. Simple cream tableware and bistro chairs complete the pretty picture.

Fresh-Squeezed Style
The black, white, and yellow color scheme for this long table takes its cues from the parade of lemon and elderberry arrangements in elegant urns, each of which is elevated on a gift-wrapped box to vary the heights. A sunny-yellow canvas tablecloth is dressed up with runners of white eyelet (its cutouts look like tiny slices of lemons) and with chic yellow plates. Chinese lanterns, hanging on ribbons from the branches of a sheltering tree, cast a golden glow as evening falls.

Juicy Fruit
This crisp, springtime arrangement spilling from the urn combines lemons, black elderberries (inspiration for the paper on the box below), cattleya orchids, tuberous begonias, gloriosa lilies, and "Golden Celebration" roses. Chezar flanked it with clutches of blooms in thematic colors: from left, white acidanthera, buttery cymbidium orchids, and black-centered ornithogalums. Macaroons in cellophane bags and black place cards with white type welcome guests to the table.

Delectably Dramatic
These lush centerpieces, with their untamed feel, need little ornamentation. Each of the square tables for eight is draped in an understated yet complementary blue-gray linen tablecloth; and gray cloth covers simplify the ballroom chairs. The delicate white plates pair with simple stemware; floral-printed cotton napkins and place cards are the only flourishes.

Good Enough to Eat
Loose and naturalistic in its mossy garden urn, Chezar's late-summer melange of dusky plums, pears, blueberries, "Cafe au Lait" dahlias, and "Hot Cocoa" roses evokes a garden at the peak of its bloom. Seed heads of plume poppies, begonia foliage, "Emotion" hydrangeas, dusty miller, corydalis, and twining akebia vines add a green note to the sweeping composition. On the tented place cards, with their pale-pink letterpressed embellishment, gray ink picks up the tones of the linens.