summer dining with friends and why a pretty table works

by Sharon Santoni

The Summer dining season is probably my favourite. It’s no secret that I love to entertain. Here in the country everyone entertains at home and we invite friends regularly to lunch or dinner, we love to cook, lay an inviting table and set the atmosphere for a special shared moment.

In the winter and fall we eat inside, often around the fire, but for summer dining we nearly always lay the table outside. On the terrace beneath wide parasols, or on the long table near our outdoor fire. We’re fortunate not to be bothered by bugs.

I’m lucky to have a husband who is a great cook. This means that I handle dessert, and sometimes the first course or appetizer, but other than that I am free to lay the table and make some pretty.

My tablescapes will always include flowers and foliage, no matter the season. It could be a garland of fruit and flowers running the length of the table, it could be a series of tiny arrangements, one for each guest. But often, as in these pictures, I include one or two larger arrangements, with single flowers echoing the colour scheme and dotted around the table.

Here I used antirrhinums, roses, carnations, lisianthus, iris and viburnum. The arrangements are tall and striking, and are held in antique soup tureens with chicken wire inside to position the stem. The colours of the arrangements are prolonged by using tiny antique silver stem-cups to hold individual flower heads.

These stem cups are something that I use a lot, and they work well with many varieties of flower from roses, to carnations, dahlias and in this case even iris.

When the meal is over and friends gone home, the table is cleared. The bouquets are re-used around the house. I particularly love to have a small vase of flowers on my desk. So how about you? In your corner of the world? Which is your favourite season to entertain, and how do you like to lay your table?


Judy Lambert May 25, 2022 - 6:31 pm

Sharon, you are always so inspirational in your entertaining table shapes! My creative juices are flowing for my garden space!

franki Parde May 25, 2022 - 8:03 pm

Luv @ first sight, etc. franki

Michelle May 25, 2022 - 8:20 pm


Such a beautiful table setting.

Lizette May 25, 2022 - 8:59 pm

Hello Sharon,

Your table is warm, romantic and beautiful. I am taking a lot of your color scheme and considering your ideas for when my daughter Brittany-Ann wedding in September.
Thank you so much for your inspirational tablescapes.

Jean May 25, 2022 - 9:41 pm

Absolutely beautiful! What’s on the menu? Love your blogs

Laura Thorne May 25, 2022 - 10:31 pm

Sharon, thank you for these wonderful ideas which I try to replicate at my own home. Your Instagram and blog are my favorites! I just bout some delphiniums (though mine are light purple) to pot up around the patio – I always love them in your photos.

Anita Carter May 25, 2022 - 10:38 pm

Love the Gien dinnerware and your floral arrangements. Not being bothered by bugs would be so wonderful. Keep living the good life. Always look forward to your posts.

Bonnie Wood May 25, 2022 - 10:39 pm

The table is beautiful.But, my son and I have bad allergies, no thanks to my Mom!!! So my flowers have to stay outside. Love your magazine!!! Have a wonderful Spring and Summer!!!

Suzanne May 26, 2022 - 12:55 am

Your table is very beautiful. All the colors go together so well.

Michelléa May 26, 2022 - 3:37 am

Loved reading this & such wonderful ideas, such as using a tureen with chicken wire to display a flower arrangement!
We just purchased a new home with a lovely large garden area, so would so love to eat outside when summer comes round (winter here in Australia at present)… bugs are a huge issue here in summer, so looking into ways to keep them at bay.
Love that your husband loves cooking, it does help when work load gets shared.
It’s funny how when a meal is cooked by some different that we can just sit down as cooks & just enjoy the meal, just seems to taste better.
I’m definitely going to give this ago. Merci

Denise Duvall May 26, 2022 - 4:30 am

That iris in the silver vase must smell amazing, just like the rest of your garden!

Emm May 26, 2022 - 7:00 am

Those are very pretty plates, and they coordinate so nicely with the flowers. The arrangements are inspirational.

Fiona McKeogh May 26, 2022 - 10:09 am

I am inspired to do better. Your flowers are a dream. I wish my husband was a good cook! Thank you for a lovely blog and fabulous magazine!

Sandra Roques McCartney May 26, 2022 - 7:52 pm

Beautiful table Sharon. Am not sure what stem cups are. Thoroughly enjoy getting the boxes and the magazine!
My grandfather was French and have relatives in the South of France that we have visited so i love everything French. Am originally from New Orleans, LA so grew up in a French community although i do not speak the language.

Lady Locust May 28, 2022 - 4:21 am

Your florals are always beautiful, but those are absolutely stunning!

Renee McLeod June 12, 2022 - 8:02 am

I too have lots of bouquets around — dahlias from my potager. I had each of my female guests one as they leave (makes me very popular!)

fireboy and watergirl September 28, 2022 - 5:10 am

These plates are very lovely, and they complement the blooms so well. The compositions are inspiring.

Interior Painter Schaumburg, Il April 13, 2023 - 1:45 pm

That table set up is so pretty. Thanks for sharing!

Emma January 10, 2024 - 11:30 am

It looks really very aesthetically pleasing, incredibly beautiful. If you want to invite guests for a small party or picnic, you can use the services of Poptop food trucks . They will help you significantly diversify the environment and also provide a positive attitude.

Blob Opera January 15, 2024 - 9:58 am

The images in your magazine are always gorgeous. The image of the horses leaves me speechless. Stunning.


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