by Marisa Marcantonio

Every winter, exotic orchids provide the tablesetting magic for The New York Botanical Garden's Orchid Dinner. The glorious event, generously underwritten by Veranda, BNY Mellon and Tiffany and Co, is a way to celebrate and support one of New York's best loved horticultural treasures, The New York Botanical Garden. “We were thrilled to sponsor the Orchid Dinner for our 5th consecutive year,” said Veranda editor in chief Dara Caponigro. “The evening supports the New York Botanical Garden’s vital work in conservation and education and we are pleased to have helped the Garden attract so much creative talent in support of its mission. This event is always a showcase for some of the most extraordinary design.” If you have not been to the gardens, go! The stunning Orchid Show that opens March 3rd draws quite a crowd from far and wide, as does their beautifully-edited gift shop.
For the table designs, interior and floral designers start with the delicate looking blooms, and build their design story around the flower-- sometimes using masses upon masses of them. This year, the tables were as divine as ever, with orchid arrangements created out of every possible variety and hue soaring heavenward. Here is a sampling of several tablescapes, with more to follow tomorrow.
You may get orchid fever, watch out:

Stephen Elrod for Brunschwig & Fils created a global fantasy land using the newest bold Brunschwig prints. Notice the giraffe centerpiece holding a lantern in its mouth. Stephen always outdoes himself.

Reds yellows and pinks step up to the splendid giraffe.

David Easton created a low lying arrangement with Maidenhair ferns and tall Phaelenopsis.

Laura Vinroot Poole with John Lupton, Andrew Thomas and Leontine Linens had a blast of brights and a giant red urn filled with chartreuse and red orchids.

Connie of Plaza Flowers had a true piece de resistance, pairing a large spray of deep red orchids with brushed metals.

Philip Gorrivan for Lalique went for white and clear.

Flower School New York's Felipe Sastre created a palm tree out of Phaelenopsis.

LMD Lewis Miller Design combined clear glass, a metallic table skirt and crisp white orchids.

Bowman Dahl Floral & Event Design worked with gray and mercury glass to go along with the fanciful puff of orchids atop a long stemmed vase.

Baccarat by Rafael de Cardenas/Architecture at Large used intricately intertwined orchids in vibrant tones for a rain forest effect.

Michael Walter for Lexington Gardens created a gorgeous towering waterfall of garden tools and potted orchids that was spectacular.

Robert Marinelli, RMID Enterprises, Inc. mixed a matte burlap cloth with hits of fuchsia and a glittery low centerpiece of a log with orchids sprouting from it, pure woodlands fantasy.

Campion Platt rang in the Chinese New Year with low orchids and a fanciful multi-hued paper dragon.

MagnaFlora Design | Events had a showstopping low centerpiece of just purple orchids.

Guests got to take home a mini orchid.

Roric Tobin for Geoffrey Bradfield Inc. went on safari.


by Marisa Marcantonio

As the Christmas shopping deadline nears, why not hit Lex and allay your fears? With shopping list in hand, and deadline to meet, buy all your gifts and find something neat. Here is your roadmap for a stroll of Upper East Side stores where you are sure to come up with creative and special gifts for everyone on your list.

Begin your day getting a blowout at the Varin Salon at 762 Madison Avenue.

Yann Varin will give you a glam updo for the big holiday shindig or polished coif for shopping Madison.

Your chair awaits.

For serious big deal antiques, visit Louis Bofferding and hear him tell great tales of each piece and its provenance.

Swing by to see Connie at Plaza Flowers at 944 Lexington Avenue and order a red and green arrangement to be delivered.

Choose from festive red berry branches...

Adorable miniature trees are great for apartment living.

Flats of Paperwhites on their way out the door.

How can you not think of the warm days of summer when looking at this arrangement?

Stroll down the block to Mecox Gardens
at 962 Lexington Avenue where the windows don their best swags of greenery.
The shop is filled with well-edited home accessories including candles, lamps and books that would all make nice presents.

Up the street at 1011, Lexington Gardens does it up-- from ornaments to arrangements to garden statuary-- their holiday mood is infectious.

A white winter wonderland scene.

Treillage, the Bunny Williams home emporium for tabletop, decorative accessories and entertaining elements, usually sets the table near the window to enthrall passersby. The table is always beautifully arranged, it is as if guests were about to be seated.

Golden wire wreathes hang above a marble-topped console.

Another round table is filled with goodies-- Bunny's new book, Scrapbook for Living, a Spitzmiller Gourd Centerpiece and trees with tiny glass beads that look even nicer by candlelight.

A pair of gold trees flank a classical sculpture and Bee Line Lamps.

A small, shimmering decorative accent tree sits next to a great new book, Private Gardens of Connecticut.

Sit down for a ladies lunch at Swifty's. With a peach decorating scheme, the soft palette is ever-flattering and designed by a ladies who lunch favorite, Mario Buatta. Their curried chicken salad is always good.

Archivia Books at 993 Lexington Avenue, is Cynthia Conigliaro's top notch bookshop is filled to the brim with design and fashion books. You just want it all!

The counter at Archivia in a rare lull. The walls are lined with every title you covet- from rare Billy Baldwin tomes to Monacelli Press's latest intro in the home, garden, art and fashion arena.

A long table anchors the layout. Well lit with reading lamps, the tables are filled with titles you can peruse.

Pretty architectural notecards from Bernd Dams and Andrew Zega, the authors of Chinoiseries. Love these.

The window of Cove Landing, right next to Archivia, is great for peeking inside-- a clear view of some the best edited pieces in the city.

Angus Wilkie and Len Morgan have hung a beautiful cluster of silver ornaments in the window that catch the sunlight beautifully.

Make your way downtown to Ankasa's flagship store at 135 E 65th Street. Known for their elaborate Indian embroidery, the shop is arranged in vignettes by color, and the stage is set in winter white. Filled with decorative throw pillows, their upholstery collection, cashmere throws and gifty items, the assortment is lush and cozy.

Photo courtesy of Via Quadronno
End the day with a seriously good cappuccino at Via Quadronno at 25 East 73rd, where Milano meets New York.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Easter is upon us! In planning your Easter table, fresh flowers, pretty china and colorful mats and a tablecloth make the occasion festive.

The Easter bunny is on the run! You can catch him at John Derian.

Plaza Florists on Lexington Avenue in the 60's has been one of my longtime favorite sources. Connie Plaissay opened the the shop in 1995, as a city oasis. The transporting space carries hundreds of hand selected blooms that fill the air with a gorgeous green aroma. Walking by their stunningly beautiful windows, they showcase high style yet soft arrangements, blooming branches, tropical rarities and unique vignettes with natural materials. From a rustic container of long stemmed tulips to a monochromatic melange of seasonal blooms, they can do it all. Their tell tale green ribbon and Plaza tag announce the arrival of a breathtaking flora package.

Hydrangeas in a purple and green arrangement.

Creams and greens.

Pale yellows are soft and sweet.

When thinking about the Easter table for brunch, try adding some china with blooms:

French designer Alberto Pinto recently launched Jardins D'Orchidees hand painted Limoges porcelain, available at Michael C. Fina.

Meissen's Persian Rose porcelain in fabulous red and turquoise. They are the creme de la creme.

If you have not yet added bamboo flatware to your repertoire, I highly recommend it. It works from season to season, acts as a neutral and matches everything. This set has more of an aged look and comes from Horchow.

If you are inspired by the classic Easter jelly bean brights, these Dransfield & Ross Moorish shaped mats work well.

These D. Porthault cocktail napkins are great to have on hand when 5 pm comes around. They add a bright punch to the bar and canapes are tastier when using these. Get all one pattern or mix them up. They get softer with age, and I am ready to snag my mom's after coveting them for forever!

D. Porthault's Dahlia pattern is embroidered on a white linen. The bold blooms seem to blow in the wind, suspended.

D. Porthault has been bringing flowers into the home for generations. The Lilas in blue hand embroidered linen mats and napkins have a realistic look.

The Fougeres pattern of ferns has a delicate air and sweet charm.

For something more casual D and R's Holiday Tropical cotton napkin. It reminds me of a vivid 1960's Scandinavian Josef Frank print.

I will be setting the table with these classic and last-forever Kim Seybert silk organza napkins. They are cut on the bias so they have this adorable lettuce edging. With so many lush colors to choose from, you can get a set for each china pattern's color palette.

Deal Alert! World Market does it again-- these floral Sakira mats with a striped border are a steal. The way to get the look for less.

Sakira Spring Floral napkins will become your everyday faves. Also from WM.

The Tree of Life placemats also from World Market combines an age old motif, reminiscent of a classic Brunschwig and Fils chintz's.

Buy some bunches and begin arranging!

Since you want the flowers to be the star players, a white vase is a good idea as it will not overwhelm. Handmade and unique pottery pieces from Connecticut- based artist Frances Palmer add an artisan element. Her Dahlia vase with small flowers in relief applied to a fluted body has just enough detail.

Tulips are a real harbinger of spring-- the more the better!