Beach Cottage Table Dressing with Garden Herbs

Thu 26th, May, 2011

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G’day sweet BCer’s!

Lately I have been doing a lot in my garden, I am right into it…I want it to be prettier and sweeter…I guess I want that in a lot of areas of my life ;-)




It’s a big garden, with lots of things to work around and with and lots for me to learn….I’ve written before about the concrete that was laid down almost 70 years ago and still continues to hold up very ugly and very well…most of this now I have disguised with pots and lots of clever concealment…




Now with a little more flexible budget for things like plants, which really with the reno and then the starting the new business wasn’t really top priority before, I am beginning to start planting things here and there…so far this has just been random planting of random things that I see at the market that take my fancy…usually too they are the ones that are on offer…I ask myself why not wait til they are on offer?

I am not a planner, I don’t think that I will ever be…I am kinda a seat of my pants girl in most things in life…the total opposite to Mr BC, who, if humanly possible would write a spreadsheet on how to do anything…which may I add drives me ’round the twist…any idea one might come up with, any little conversation over coffee on the adirondacks, any passing comment….wham, bam thank you mam before you know it Mr BC has a spreadsheet right under my nose…




Anyway, the other morning I was out there watering my herbs…it was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining bright and the temperature was just right…as I stood looking around and spraying a lovely fragrance hit me from the herbs and the lavender and such…



And so I thought that this week I would, rather than buying a bunch of drugstore flowers, bring in the stuff from my garden (like the rose)…but I didn’t stop at flowers, I picked rosemary and lavender and thyme…popped them into jam jars and any old containers and dotted them around the house…


So nice…



It looks really pretty, I feel that nature came inside with me on the cool Autumn evenings when the candles are lit…and the little wafts of calming fragrance soothe us…we need it…it seems to me that the BC Crew at the moment…get busier and busier and busier…



So tablescaping the other day I thought I would do the same…just pick things from the garden and see how I’d go…

This then is the result

and I really* like it…

most of the time when I tablescape I like the result…sometimes not so much…I reckon it all depends how you are feeling on the day…but this one…I am pleased with…I wanted a kinda coastal feel but a bit rustic and herby…

Which is me all over at the moment…I must say I am very interested in my herbs…so it kinda felt natural to bring them onto the deck table and onto this blog….




And it’s a great idea I reckon if you are on a budget and need some frugal decorating for a table or two…you literally don’t have to spend much money here…I picked these from the garden but you could easily enough buy just one pot of lavender or rosemary, or indeed pick a bunch from your neighbour’s after dark..

…then I just stuff them into little saved glass pots…most of these pots are jars from what was tomato paste



…all the rest of it from the back of the wardrobe ;-)




oh the lantern is IKEA, my fave little Nordic boutique, haha…

Let me know what you think and I have another question for you

Q.  What do you bring in from your garden for budget decorating?

(it needs to be easy to plant & grow)

Cos I am planting things this weekend…

Catch ya later alligator


blogged for Frugal Friday at the Shabby Nest Thanks & Tablescape Thursday, thanks

p.s. it’s that time of the month tomorrow….BEACH COTTAGE GIVEAWAY TIME!  woohoo…


for heaps more of my Coastal Tablescaping Ideas on a budget…go here




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57 Responses to “Beach Cottage Table Dressing with Garden Herbs”

  1. The Distressed Mother says:

    Can’t go past murraya paniculata. Easy to grow and the cuttings last for weeks.

  2. Melinda says:

    Mint is always a good one ( you most likely have it anyway) – grows like CRAZY so best to give it a designated home and adopt zero tolerance for creeping!! Great inside as it smells so fresh and I love it in a jar on its own or mixed with a daisy, rose whatever. Those green leaves are luscious and best of all its there for the picking year round!

    your table looks really pretty Sarah – that cloth, can your share its origin – I love it!! xx

    • sarah says:

      thanks Melinda, I do have it, but you know what it’s normally in my mojito not in jars…I never thought of that…heading out to pick some now ! xx

  3. Kat says:

    Those gorgeous little white seaside daisies, lavender and anything that grows well from a cutting without too much tlc. (this is how our little seaside garden has come about.) :)

  4. we are growing snow peas at the moment- super easy.

  5. Love the simple beauty here.

  6. Chrisartist says:

    I have many roses in my garden. So it’s roses and lavender for me. Herbs and lemons are great also

  7. Love the herbs on your table. We’ve been growing lots of basil and I love to take some inside and arrange it in a little jar, or a re-used candle holder, like a mini-vase. :) Smells so good and looks pretty in our kitchen window.

  8. Marsha says:

    Mint is a great and hearty herb–and so is rosemary. I have become interested in herbs the last couple of years, too. I found a couple of sites on etsy that stamp words on vintage silverware pieces. I got several and had them stamped with herb names. I put them in the pots with the herb names and they make the pots look perfect with their little vintage tags. I’ll bet you would like them, too!

  9. Marcia says:

    Your table looks so pretty!
    For decorating, flowers of any sort (and I plant like you do, on a whim and a sale), and as others said, mint is always good. Lately I’ve been bringing in lots and lots of strawberries. I’ve had my plants for 3 years now, and they’ve really taken off this year, spreading and producing like crazy. In fact, I saw one of those little “and you might like this” things at the bottom of one of your recent posts that said “strawberry pear”, and I clicked on it. I made it the next day, and it was delicious!! I should’ve made two, as my family gobbled it up quickly, and I didn’t get much. I’ll be making it again, because the strawberries are coming fast and furious. I’ll let you know if I do a post on it :-)

  10. Zosia says:

    So simple and so pretty and it can even entice diners’ appetite if the herbs complement the dishes served.

  11. Robynne says:

    Lovely table Sarah…the pasta sauce jars are very handy…I’m using Lloyd Grossman sauce jars here cause they are such a great shape. Back home I used to pick (Dad’s) hydrangea which, as you know, can then be used when it’s dried. Here in U.K. I buy them in a pot, enjoy them inside then plant them in the garden…so far they’ve all died during the winter…perhaps too much snow…I’m on a learning curve too! I like your philosophy re. gardening..I think a garden evolves and planting things that appeal to you and then seeing whether they thrive or not is a good way to go…especially with your hit and miss seaside conditions. Have fun. Robx

  12. i bet that house smells gorgeous- herbs even overpower the smell of football socks you know!

    my fave & easiest to grow plant in sydney was the simple…so pretty & aromatic jasmine…

    i love that it grows *up* everything- it would look gorgeous growing up your balcony- the bit to the left of your lovely ladder- on the end in the sunshine….it always seems to get sun there in your pickies…

    & it’s a great one to grow over sheds pr near the clothes line as the clothes somehow smell sweeter….

    do you have any already??

    melissa x

    • sarah says:

      yes I only have one though…I didn’t realise it was that easy to grow…I will get one at the weekend


  13. Robyn says:

    Gorgeous as always. I’m off to a ladies night tomorrow and have to decorate the table so I’m heading on over to your link for some real inspiration. As soon as I was asked to do I knew there was only one place to go!
    Hope I remember to take my camera!

  14. samantha says:

    I love that idea of using garden herbs on a table, sometimes depending on the flower, the sent at a table can be a bit strong, and confuse the senses, with food. but herbs at the table is a great idea!

  15. Your table looks so fresh, Sarah…it makes me feel a little warmer here in Melbourne tonight. You might like to try Chocolate Mint..it smells sensational, and you can get it at Bunnings. :)
    X Marnie

  16. Bev says:

    I’m growing a little cilantro to make salsa this summer, I’m using sweet little sifter with a aqua handle to put my flowers in. I put it in a littlle jar and then set in jar in the sifter. Where did you get the table cloth ? Love it !

  17. Susan says:

    got to agree with your previous commenter… Jasmine will always take me straight back to my teenage summers.

    Here with a sad lack of flowers available to me to grow….. I do Birds of Paradise {strelitzia I think}……

    I also cut just a palm leaf or three….. that’s one of my favourites. I think I first paid attention to that look via India Hicks…. Bahamas *sigh

    {I have that same table cloth…. :)}

    • sarah says:

      hmm, India = palm leaf inspiration & purrfect inspiration….

      well lovely lady…tablecloth from your home town…was wondering if you could remind me of the shop name?



  18. Simple Daisy says:

    Oh my…everything you do is simply beautiful!!! I love your tablescape….so fresh and pretty:)

  19. Niki B says:

    Thanks for taking a look at my Simple Wall Art and leaving a comment!!

  20. Alice says:

    Sarah I think this is my favourite table scape yet with the one that you did with the little red flowers (I sometimes use it as my desktop background hee…hee…). I love the rustic feel and it is this balance between the relaxing coastal feel and French rustic charm that I am going for in my garden and house and so far so good. Nowhere near finished but getting there…. I love my thyme and often hang bunches to dry on the rafters of my “patio”, basil has a beautiful scent to me (but I always seem to kill it) as does parsley. I used to buy parsley bunches from the markets then I would put them in water in a clear as glass crystal ice “bucket” given as a wedding gift and place it all on my shelf near the door way so you could catch a whiff of parsley freshness as you walked into the kitchen and out into the living room. I love the smell of rosemary and I am yet to try and grow it (I need to find room in the budget for more pots sigh…). Have you ever tried the curry plant? There are two types. There’s the tree and the plant. I know I bought the wrong one (the one that looks like rosemary – the plant) but the scent was just as good (but the taste not as potent :( ), the smell used to make my mouth water, yum… At the moment my Alyssum is what gives fragrance to my back yard…It’s so nice… I love my back yard… Hurrah for little cottages and their beautiful gardens… How lucky I feel… This comes from a woman who up until 4 years ago has never had a garden to enjoy of her self…

    P.S: I almost chocked on my toast when reading about Mr B.C… I see you also have to endure all the planning stages of even the simplest project… I usually just nod to make him happy (though a lot of the time it goes over my head and I just want him to get on with it) to make him happy. After all he is trying to make my wild imaginings come to life to make me happy…. Bless these most gorgeous souls… It doesn’t seem to reduce the frustration lol!

  21. Neha says:

    Sarah…the table look very very pretty and the white daisies with the rosemary stems…ahhhh…gorgeous!

    I really like to grow Pothos in my yard/patio….its very easy to grow and you can just cut it anywhere and put in in water and it continues to grow. A very easy way to add some green to your decor….if you want, you can add flowers to it as well.

  22. Jenn says:

    Gorgeous and inspiring…as always :) Have a lovely day! Jenn

  23. Alima says:

    As always, it looks fabulous! Love that tablecloth and the rosemary in jars. I would never think to decorate with my rosemary, but that is a great idea! Definitely going to borrow that one!

    Oh and I love the look of Mexican Sage. I don’t know if you would like it because it has purple flowers. But I think it’s beautiful and when it flowers I always cut it off and bring it inside for my vases. It lasts a good week in a vase too. Very hearty, easy to grow, doesn’t need a lot of water!

  24. tami says:

    Sarah, this is the kind of table setting I like best. My Grandmother always said, use the things you already have, no need to run out to the store. She did lots and lots of spur of the moment dinners or lunches, and would have us go out to her Garden to pick flowers. She used roses, pansies, and garden greenery. Even different veggies and fruits down the center of her table at times and in the Fall she used Squash.
    I try to use what I have on hand too, Roses, Lemon Basil, and Rosemary from our Garden, and my favorite which is still in the first stages of blooming are Hydrangeas. One bloom is the size of a bouquet, so I love using it.
    Onto your table, I love it. I love simplicity. I love white with a splash of greenery, and I love the table cloth you chose. All in all, gorgeous.xxx

  25. tami says:

    Ok, I used the term “i love” way too much in that post, please excuse me, I just woke up it’s 6:45am here ;)

  26. Candy says:

    Spreadsheets!!! My husband is obsessed with them and it drives me kinda crazy but I know it’s his way of ‘fixing, planning’ whatever I come up with…lol Love your tablescape. I have pots of lavender and rosemary on my patio and they smell heavenly.

  27. Kim says:

    hey sarah G’day!!
    my mom is an avid gardener and when ever i make the 3 hr trip home which is frequently and even more frequently in summer i bring home enough for 2 boquets and usually it is pansies and hydrangeas and hyacinths tulips daffs and daisies and lots of roses!!! mo has been gardening since about the time well ever since i remember she can get anything to grow with just a cutting or start it inside in the winter she has everything in her yard and is a pro at groing roses! for holidays/ birthdays mothers day whatever we get her we always get a rose bush or hydrangea plant to go along she also has wildflowers and plants/ flowers bushes for the butterfliies and humming birds!!! so whatever shes got we bring it home!

  28. Kim says:

    p.s. i dont know how they do there but mom has many different lilac trees in all different colors sizes etc and each one was started with just a clipping you get it at the fork the y shape of the branch and you can root it!!!! lilacs are beautiful and smell heavenly
    mom would kill me if she ever knew i told anyone this but she will often go into walmart/ or garden centers and snap a small piece off to start it and grow it and then soon she will snap pieces off that to plant more you would think she spent a fortune in her yard but shhhh its our lil secret!!!!
    kim xoxox

  29. Robin says:

    It all looks so nice. I just love the lantern and the flowers and herbs at each setting. So pretty!

  30. Karen Milholland says:

    I’m relatively new to your site, so I don’t know if you grow pansies. I live in an apartment, so I container garden. I can never resist containers of pansies in the spring. I know you’re really supposed to plant them in the fall, but I just REALLY need them in the spring after being so starved for anything blooming after a long, dark winter. Anyway, I found some small little spice bottles in a thrift shop that are just the right size for pansies. Each place setting gets it’s own personal arrangment. They have a nice scent too, but not overpowering. In magazines I’ve seen them displayed in egg shells in egg cup holders at Easter too. My spice bottle vases are a good size to place by my computer screen in my cubicle at work to keep me perked up through the work day. I have a keyboard tray that is far enough away from my computer screen that I don’t have to worry about spillage. I’m always careful about any liquid near my electronics.

    Your table looks lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  31. catherine says:

    blue hydrangeas….they are all over my house now…even the powder rooms.

  32. Ruth says:

    Your tablescape is so very lovely. What a simple but beautiful set up.


  33. Katherine says:

    Jasmine is easy and lovely – and you get the heavenly scent. I love the “classic” Jasmine, but Star is good too. It is probably more coastal.

  34. Manda says:

    I love gardenias! They flower in summer, even though the blooms don’t last very long inside their scent intensifies as they colour. And their glossy green leaves are great anytime of the year.
    I love shoving a few stalks of leaves in old jars for the table when we eat outside, and I mean literally shove. I am usually found pulling stalks of their lovely greeny-ness minutes before the guests arrive. Thank god they don’t need arranging ;)

    xx manda

  35. Angie says:

    We all know I do not have a green thumb ! But I do have ferns, Asparagus Ferns and Maidenhair ferns ! Boat loads of them. Had fifty years of them when we moved in this old house….I mowed them all down cause they were so snakey looking….wanted to see what was under them. They all came back with a vengenace ! Now I love to cut them and stick them in my pale green bottles in my kitchen window. The Maidenhair do well mounted under glass on burlap, the asparagus on any table so light and airy !

  36. Rachelle says:

    Great tablescape! I love that table cloth- it loves loves with all the fresh herbs.

  37. Wow. SO beautiful!!! Love all the pics!

  38. bridget says:

    Lovely picture on the deck….I have lots of mint and lemon balm in my garden which I love….I put them in little jars like you do for the table…but in the kitchen I have a big jug of them…they keep the flies away for some reason.And no one can resist rubbing the lemon balm leaves between their fingers…..
    Lemon balmm is like mint -ridiculously easy to grow…and very good as a tea to drink when you’re feeling stressed!

  39. Barefoot Liz says:

    The only things that I bring in from my yard are holly and lilac. Neither of them quick or easy. I love the idea of rosemary sprigs on the dining table. I’d like to put mint with it. Mmm.

  40. Gill says:

    I love the look of your outside table – looks so restful and pretty and natural!
    Love the use you’ve made of simple herbs and glass jars – the simple things are so often the best.
    Particularly love that table cloth!!
    I like to just fill a jam jar with whatever i can find in the garden in season, whether it be flower or foliage, or even pretty weed or grass if its interesting, but what I enjoyed doing the other day was pulling up some very tall, blowsy Honesty (do you get that over there?) with the last few purple flowers on it but with fantastic lime green seedheads which looked stunning (and still does nearly three weeks later!) placed in a tall cream enamel jug ( if you’re interested theres a photo on my post for friday 20th may). These will eventually dry a thin papery silver.

  41. Gill says:

    Whoops meant to say that if you can get Honesty over there it seeds easily – self seeds in fact!

  42. I’m always so inspired by your blog. Thanks for linking to Shabby Nest so that I was reminded to drop you a line.

  43. Gail says:

    I like the crisp freshness of the grays with the white & clear glassware. I especially like the string wrapped vase.
    RE your ? I grow parsley from seed. I let some of my parsley keep growing up , no pinching, and eventually it flowers like Queen Anne’s Lace, then I clip for vases.

  44. teres says:

    lavender for sure. and if you can grow lavender (it likes the heat and sun), then you can grow sweetpeas. plant them in a wide pot with branches or sticks stuck in the soil and tied at the top to make a tall (i’d say 6 feet) teepee sort of structure so that the tender sweetpea vines have something to climb up. plant the seeds deep, stick in the teepee structure, put the pot in the hot hot sun and then just let them grow, baby! and when they start to get tall and flower, the more you clip little flowering vines to put in little jars around your house, the more the vines left behind will flower again. so snip away and enjoy them. a big bunch in a pretty white vase has the most amazing scent. put them in the bathroom and when you have a hot bath or a shower they will yield more fragrance. i just love love love sweetpeas! i have had sweetpeas for years and most of the time they grow to over 6 feet tall and they just cover the teepee in the pot. love!!!

    and put sprigs of lavender in your shower, on the edge of your tub, in the tub when you’re having a soak, under the kitchen sink, next to the kitchen sink, tied to your screen door or in windows to let the scent blow in, in your closet or in your delicates drawer and everything will smell amazing! but cut the lavender sprigs up a bit and put them in a small pretty bowl when putting them in a drawer or armoire shelf because they can discolor your clothing.

    winnipeg, manitoba canada
    it’s spring up here and things are getting green!!! yay!!!

  45. i bring in fern fronds. they’re gorgeous to me and FREE. they look stunning with fresh flowers i buy or just naked.


  46. Kerry Rossow says:

    This is so lovely! I am new on the lavender scene – and so loving it!
    Kerry at housetalkn.blogspot.com

  47. I love autumn leaves on the table – just scattered, or arranged in small antique medicine bottles…we got married in the Blue Mountains in autumn and our table decorations were gorgeous multicoloured autumn leaves…..

    Love your photography by the way! xx

  48. Absolutely lovely. And charming. Ah, I wish I had a green thumb, but no. Sometimes I snag a bloom or two that just happened to pop up in spite of myself.

    Your tablescape is lovely too. So peaceful. So inviting. Thanks for sharing.

  49. always love our clean simplicity~

  50. Sweet, simple and quite lovely.

  51. Meleia says:

    where did you get that beautiful tablecloth?!