May 7, 2018

A Dinner for Bunny!

This year was the 10th annual Ladew Garden Festival at the amazing Ladew Topiary Gardens! To celebrate, Ladew hosted a dinner for the delightful Bunny Williams and her husband, John Rosselli. It was Bunny’s Trade Secrets show and sale that was the inspiration for the Garden Festival a decade ago. The plotting and planning for the dinner party started in January over a quiet dinner in front of a cozy fire, and over the next few months, all of the parts began to come together. Ladew Dinner (7)

The theme for the dinner was pretty simple – a play on the extensive gardens and topiary collections at Ladew Gardens. Even after looking at numerous topiary-themed patterns for table cloths, we decided we could come up with something we loved on our own. So, using some old wall-paper segments, and playing with my mad Photoshop skills, I combined a topiary pattern and a knot garden pattern. master fileI cleaned up the background and sharpened the images a little. I also brightened the colours to make them a bit more lively. Then I started working on the border which came from an old fabric, no longer in production.

We ordered 20 yards of the topiary pattern and 16 yards of the border, which was printed at six across, all from my go-to resource, Spoonflower. I have been using them for printing my tea towels for a few years now, and they are amazing. They knew I’d used their services a lot, but had never ordered this print in this quantity, so they sent samples for our approval. Great customer service!

Instead of round tables, we opted for two long tables with 25 people at each table. We got a variety of lavender topiaries from one of the vendors at the Garden Festival and randomly placed them along the tables. Ladew Dinner (35)

The next job was creating a placecard for the table. We decided to just use the border for the card and find a beautiful front for the writing (Bickham Script Pro). To save on space at the table, we combined the placecard and the menu card, and put one at each place. Ladew Dinner (32)

Because the dinner was held to both celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Garden Festival, and to raise funds to support the gardens, we wanted to give each donor a little gift at the end of the evening. So, using the first two designs, I added the logo designed for the 10th year and came up with tea towels to give to everyone. As with the tablecloths, we used a 50/50 linen and cotton blend. Ladew Dinner (2)

The dinner was quite simple – a light garden salad, a chicken potpie and dessert. What we hadn’t anticipated was that it would be 90* that day and still pretty warm in the evening. But that actually didn’t matter.

Finally, it was party time, and the guests began to fill the room, lit by dozens of votive candles and one overhead fixture. The dinner was held in a barn which had been converted into a painting studio by Harvey Ladew, who owned the property for decades. Ladew Dinner (22)Ladew Dinner (23)

Speeches were made, congratulations were doled out and then it was time for dessert. When the wait staff entered the room carrying these gorgeous pots of flowers, everyone gasped!Ladew Dinner (34)

The dessert was a chocolate mousse in a parchment-lined terra cotta pot, with shaved chocolate on top, and crumbled Oreo cookies on the plate. We used pastillage sugar lilies of the valley, with actual lily leaves (yes, we know they are poisonous!) wrapped in florists’ tape. On the side was a cookie in the shape of a shovel, dipped in chocolate to indicate the dirt! Here’s the picture Bunny took after the event, on a different plate. Ladew Dinner (39)

As ever, Bunny was absolutely gracious and charming, and gave a lovely thank you to the guests, referencing how she had first come to the gardens with a niece of Harvey Ladew’s and how much she loved the gardens… and Baltimore!Ladew Dinner (29)

One of the fun aspects of the party was to have an artist live-painting the dinner from a perch in the gallery! I am just out of view in the bottom left corner.Ladew Dinner (37)Patricia Bennett, a Baltimore artist does this at a lot of parties, and it is always fascinating to see how she views what you’re a part of. You can just see her in the top right of the picture, painting the scene. Ladew Dinner (21)

I was so honoured to be a part of this very special evening and appreciated the opportunity to help create the look of the event! Thanks to Stiles, Jonathan, Bunny and John for making this an event to remember!


  1. Meg, you are a wonder! I can't believe you designed the print and had the tablecloths made! Loved the perfect menu/placecards too. The dessert was a smash hit! This was a wonderful evening and should be written up everywhere!

  2. So tasteful, so refined, and yet so opulent in its way! Wonderful!

    That tablecloth is amazing.

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  4. Marvelous! I’m most impressed and inspired!

  5. WOW! You are one AMAZING GAL! Such a lovely evening, made even better by your fine hand and your magical touch! No doubt your friends are feeling so blessed to have made your acquaintance. There is so much to love in this post that I MUST re-read it again and again. Thank you for sharing, Meg!

  6. Such a brilliant party, Meg, a portion of your head is on the bottom left, to the right of the gentleman who writes Broadway plays. Thank you so much for sharing all of the details of how you created the design, it is inspiring!!

  7. Well done, Meg! Looks to have been a beautiful evening.

  8. I am sure it was a stellar evening! Amazing creations: your tablecloth, the placecards, and I love the garden spade cookies!

  9. IT is all fabulous! I love the dessert and thought it was so creative when you posted it to Instagram.


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