Tablescape Architecture: Twigs and Nests

To celebrate the first breath of spring, I’m sharing last year’s Easter brunch tablescape: a single branch of flowering dogwood in a white porcelain pitcher flanked by milk glass candle stick holders and potted birds’ nests.

When most people think of spring flowers, they think of vibrant tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs cascading across the bare ground, seeming to shout “Spring is Here” with all of their might. They bring color to the mud gray earth just when you think all hope is lost. But my favorite part of spring happens in the sky. If bulbs are shouting the arrival of spring on the ground, then high above, the branches are whispering it in their own way.  Leaf buds come out, birds come back. I love hearing them chatter and watching them flit about, building their nests. Like bulbs, birds are another sign of hope. After all, Emily Dickinson said hope is the thing with feathers…

If you can’t wait for the trees to do their thing, here’s a how-to link on forcing blooms inside, and a list of shrubs and trees that should do the trick. Or, you can buy them. I bought flowering dogwood from a local florist. Check with yours ahead of time to see what blooming branches will be available during your event.

My potted birds’ nests are actually biodegradable flower pots with seeds inside. I planted moonflower vine and sweet pea seeds in mine, for each guest to take home. Herb or vegetable seeds would be perfect too. You can get everything you need in one stop at your local garden center or hardware store, with the exception of the “eggs.” Those you’ll have to visit the candy store for, but who would complain about a second stop for that?


Seed Starter Pots

Potting Soil

Seed Packet

Spaghnum Moss



Malted Candy Eggs

Potted Birds Nest Instructions:

1. Fill the pots with potting soil, and follow the instructions on your seed packet for planting depth. Depending on the seeds you choose, you may need to soak them first. Be sure to leave some room at the top.

Caution! If you’re putting the pots directly on the table, don’t over-saturate the soil before your dinner event, or you will have moist seed pots leaking onto your table cloth. Wait until after the event, or place the starter pots in pretty containers.

2. Top soil with spaghnum moss and place egg-shaped candies in the center. If you don’t have candies, you could use beach stones, but eating the candy is half the fun.

3. To use the nests as placecard holders, tie name tags to the pots with twine or ribbon. I made mine on the computer by copying the flower care instructions from my seed packet, folding the instructions in half, and then hand writing guest names on the outside.

4. After the party is over,  your guests can place their pots on a sunny windowsill until all danger of spring frost is past. Then the pots can be put right into the ground, or in a planting container outside.

Note: Moonflower and sweet pea both bloom well in pots. So they’re good choices for gardeners and city apartment dwellers alike. Moonflowers only bloom at night, and make a great addition to a patio garden or a windowsill. If you choose to use those seeds as well, be sure to tell your guests to place a bamboo stick or a twig in the container or plant the seedling near a trellis, fence or post.

My seedling is growing!

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