Inviting Summer In
Inspired by fashion editorials and colourful textiles, as well as the produce and colours of the changing seasons, Dervla Louli Musgrave creates vibrant tables filled with her home-baked sweets and treats. A lifestyle journalist originally from Ireland and Egypt, she’s called Hong Kong home for the last decade, where her flower-filled approach to entertaining has caught not just The Floristry’s eye.
‘I like to cook and bake for others far more than myself,’ Dervla tells The Floristry. ‘I grew up with my mum baking for lots of people in our community; it’s definitely her love language. Baking for me is more of a creative outlet, I really only enjoy cooking beautiful things that spread joy.’
Dervla’s baking journey began when the pandemic hit and she’s become known for her lavishly decorated pavlovas and flowertopped desserts. ‘I can’t quite remember when I decided to top the pavlovas with edible flowers, but as soon as I did there was no going back, I’ve always been a flower addict and my house is full of ferns and palms. When it comes to flowers for the tabletop, I use a huge variety, anything in season really.’
When asked what makes a beautiful table, she explains: ‘A relaxed one surrounded by good friends and delicious food. It doesn’t matter whether you spend hours in the kitchen or order in, it’s more about the atmosphere and having fun. Use colour, curiosities and flowers. My travels have influenced how I cook and bake a lot – in that I think that the key to a really fun dinner party is for it to be relaxed.’
Here, Dervla shows us her Midsummer table and explains the key elements in creating a summer-inspired spread.
My creative process and tablescaping inspiration often comes from flowers. Especially in summer when there’s so many warm, vibrant colours around – a lot of yellows, pinks, greens and oranges. I do love a colourful table and I really like it to reflect the season.
Start with a beautiful tablecloth. I love green and natural colours, as well as pops of pink, so you’ll see those a lot in my tablescape. Then go in with rattan or linen placemats. Add some lettuce wear (porcelain dishes in the shape of lettuce – now you know!) with some brass cutlery and eclectic serving dishes – I always mix and match. And then add some elegant dinner candles.
I really love beautiful serving ware and dishes too. You can have a really simple dish, but if you’re serving it on a beautiful plate I think it really elevates the whole dinner. Opt for locally crafted pieces, if possible.
Using flowers and plants, I think really makes you happy. It’s a beautiful part of nature to bring inside with you. For this season, sunflowers and roses give a table some summer warmth.
When it comes to summer, I love intertwining flowers with sweets, cakes and bakes – mostly pavlovas! I don’t think in summer you can beat a pavlova with freshly whipped cream. Just make sure to pile on plenty of sweet seasonal berries and top with pretty edible flowers. Voila!