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Tablescapes: Tea in the Garden with Jane Cumberbatch

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Tablescapes: Tea in the Garden with Jane Cumberbatch

June 16, 2011

Long before simple living became fashionable, Jane Cumberbatch was showing us how to pare down and scale back with her Pure Style philosophy. A former decorating editor, journalist, and style director, Cumberbatch has published several books providing a blueprint for her timeless aesthetic. We recently asked Cumberbatch (who has just released her latest book, Pure Style: Recipes for Everyday), to put together a tea in her South London garden for our Tablescapes series. A veteran of mixing old and new pieces, Cumberbatch "sticks to a mainly white scheme with injections of color to give a timeless yet modern look. My garden furniture includes a folding white Swedish-style bench from Ikea, slatted cafe chairs from the Conran Shop, and a vintage, rather wobbly painted table that I found in my favorite garden junk source in Somerset." Nothing too fancy, in other words, and very much in keeping with the Pure Style ethos. To recreate the look, consult the sources listed below.

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Above: Jane sets the table under an old apple tree in her garden, which includes a mix of flowers and edible herbs such as rosemary, mint, lemon balm, fennel, marjoram, and chives.

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Above: Vibrant pink John Clare and Constance Spry roses from the garden add a dash of color to the table.

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Above: Cumberbatch serves cucumber and mint sandwiches (made with Cranks wholemeal bread) on secondhand white plate. The exterior of the vintage shed in the background is painted Kitchen Green by Little Greene; Cumberbatch wrote her most recent book in the shed's office.

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Above: Cumberbatch presides over the table set with her homemade butterfly cakes with lemon butter icing. "Tea time in my household wouldn’t be complete without something very sweet, and this might well be butterfly cakes and homemade shortbread, both of which are really easy to make." Find recipes for both in Pure Style: Recipes for Everyday.

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Above: Cumberbatch created a simple tea-towel cover for a pale green slatted garden chair from the Conran Shop. For information on how to create something similar, see Jane’s book Sew Easy for instructions or read about it on her blog, Pure Style Online, in her April 2nd posting.

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