Each summer I like to create a table setting with a carved watermelon centerpiece. I missed last year but I couldn’t let this summer get away without trying a new one. They are just so much fun to do! (You’ll find the table setting below here: Summer Table Setting with Carved Flower Garden Watermelon Centerpiece)
Two summers ago I carved this whale centerpiece. You’ll find the tutorial for this guy here: Carve a Whale Watermelon Centerpiece
This summer I decided to try my hand at a cute flower garden centerpiece I found at the website, watermelondotorg. I have all things gardening on the brain these days, so why not a flower garden for the table!
I gathered together the things I would need: Seeded Red Watermelon, Yellow Meat Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Blueberries (not pictured) Skewers, Craft Sticks, Green Food Coloring, Green Pipe Cleaners, White Spray Paint-optional, Glue Gun or Fabri-Tac, Flower & Butterfly Cookie Cutters, Wood Tooth Picks.
Note: The directions called for a red seeded watermelon so that’s what I used. I now think a seedless one would have been better because there wouldn’t be any seeds showing and getting in the way. Next time I make this, I think I’ll go with all seedless melons. The directions also called for using a melon baller, I got mine out but never used it.
Tip: If you can’t find a yellow meat watermelon, pineapple will work just fine.
In the example centerpiece , the picket fence was left natural. The stems of the flowers appear to have been left natural, too although the directions said to dye them green. Ummm. They don’t look dyed in the example pic, do they? I did dye mine as you’ll see in just a sec.
Since I wanted a white picket fence, I spray painted the craft sticks I found at Michaels. They come 60 to a bag and I ended up using a little over half, around 40 craft sticks to make the picket fence.
Once the craft sticks were dry, I glued them together to create fence sections. The directions recommended using a glue gun. Since I always burn my fingers when I use a glue gun, I first tried gluing them together with Fabri-Tac. Fabri-Tac does work but it was taking a little longer to dry than I liked. The last time I used it was when I made a Pottery Barn Knock-off Banner for the 4th of July. That was on fabric and it dried super fast. It seemed to be taking a little longer on the wood so I broke out the old glue gun and used it instead.
I made the fence in sections, three pickets wide. I just eyeballed them for spacing, not taking time to measure. I did try to keep the pickets evenly spaced, though. I glued two finished sections together (top left section of pic below) just to see how that looked.
The directions said to dye the skewers green by soaking them in green food coloring. I had some of the “Wilton Icing Color” in the color, Leaf Green. I mixed a hefty amount of Leaf Green into a little water in the bottom of a glass casserole dish and soaked the sticks. After a few minutes I checked on them and they didn’t appear to be changing color one bit. Maybe if I had left them to soak all night it would have worked, but since I didn’t want to wait, I took a paper towel and rubbed the food coloring onto the sticks.
That technique worked great…in the beginning. But after the sticks were all dry and I started using them to skewer the melon flowers, the green dye started running down like crazy as it got wet. Oops. So I ended up wiping some of the dye back off. I noticed if I wiped off too much, the skewers were no longer green. I had some really stubborn skewers that were just not interested in being dyed green!
Side Story: The next day I headed up to a garden nursery in another county to shop for shrubs for the front yard. As I was chatting with their landscape designer she asked, “Why are your fingers green?” :) I should have said something clever like, “I’m such a great gardener, I’ve advanced passed the thumb stage!” Hee, hee. But like a dork I told her I’d been dying wood skewers to make flower stems for a centerpiece. You know she thought I was crazy!
So be forewarned, if you decide to go off road when dying the skewers, you too may have green fingers for a week!
Making Leaves and Butterfly Antennae
I already had a big bag of pipe cleaners and the bag contained several different shades of green. I ended up using different greens for the leaves. Making the leaves is easy, just loop the pipe cleaner into a leaf shape, leaving some of the pipe cleaner hanging down for attaching to the stem. It’s best to attach the leaves to the stems prior to adding the melon flowers to the stems. Snip off the little tails (excess pipe cleaner) after securing the leaves to the stems.
I used a couple of different colors of pipe cleaners to make the wee butterfly antennas. Again, they were super easy to make. I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to curl the tips of the butterfly antennae.
Flower and Butterfly Cookie Cutters:
I went to several stores in search of flower-shaped cookie cutters and struck out. I asked my fabulous Facebook friends if they knew where to find them and someone mentioned they had seen them in Wally World. That’s where I found the ones you see on the left. Searching for cookies cutters was a bit of a challenge; I felt like Goldilocks in the story of The Three Bears. The flower cookie cutters I found were either too large or too small. The smallest flower in the box from Walmart (on the left) worked great!
I also needed to find some butterfly-shaped cookie cutters. I found the “Fox Run Mini Flower and Butterfly, 11 Piece Cookie Cutter Set” online at Amazon for just $3.25 ($7.25 with shipping) If you want to order those, just search by that name on Amazon and you should easily find them.
I also ordered a Wilton set of three cookie cutters that included a regular flower shape, a tulip shape and a butterfly. I bought that set (not pictured) for the tulip but they turned out to be way too large so I didn’t use them. They’ll make cute cookies next spring, though.
Slicing the Top Off the Watermelon:
I forgot to take pics of slicing the top off the melon but it was way easier easier than I thought it would be. The key is using a super sharp knife. I used a very large and very sharp butcher knife. I turned the melon up on it’s side so I could make a nice, straight cut off the top. In other words, I rolled the watermelon onto its side and I sliced off about 1/3 of the melon just like I was slicing off a big slice of bread.
Here’s a photo from watermelondotorg and you can see how much they sliced off the top of the watermelon.
Cutting out the Flowers with the Cookie Cutters:
I cut out large sections of the watermelon to use for the flowers, although the flowers were mainly cut from the 1/3 portion of the melon I had removed from the top. I sliced that 1/3 section in half again to get a nice section from which to cut the flower shapes.
Using the smallest flower shape from the Wilton set I found in Wally World, I cut out bunches of flower shapes. Notice how thick the flower is in the picture below. When the flowers came out too thick, I just sliced them in half again which gave me two flowers just the right thickness. I also cut flowers from the yellow meat watermelon.
I used the same cutter to cut flowers from the cantaloupe.
Once I had my flowers all cut out, I stuck a dyed
skewer stem into each one and started placing my flowers in my garden.
Attaching Flower Centers with Toothpicks
I used blueberries to create centers for a few of the flowers. You can use melon balls, if you like. My melon baller didn’t make small enough balls to use them as centers so I just went with blueberries. I like the color contrast better anyway.
To attach the blueberry center, I broke the tip off a wood toothpick, breaking off about 1 inch of the toothpick. I just stuck one end into a blueberry…
…then pressed the toothpick onto the center of the flower.
Using the butterfly cookie cutter, I cut out several butterflies from the melons and cantaloupe. To attach the pipe cleaner antennae, I pushed the green skewer all the way through the butterfly until it stuck out the top just a little, then I wrapped the antennae around the top of the skewer. You can see that pretty well on the yellow butterfly on the far right in this picture below. It helps to create a little loop (in advance) with the pipe cleaner that you can then slide over the top of the skewer, prior to adding the little antennae to the top.
Cut out plenty of flowers and butterflies to fill the watermelon back in all around the stems.
Assembling the Fence
I didn’t hot glue my fence pieces together, just leaned them up against the watermelon. If I had been serving this for a party, I definitely would have taken the time to glue the fence pieces together so they wouldn’t fall over if bumped.
So that’s it! My final advice would just be…make the fence, dye the flower stems and make the leaves and antennae all in advance so once you begin making your centerpiece, you won’t need to stop to do any of those things. If you do have to stop at some point, cover all your fruit will plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. It’s best to make this centerpiece all at once since melon can look a little odd if it’s left out too long.
I hope I covered everything but if I didn’t, feel free to ask a question.
Wouldn’t this centerpiece be pretty sitting on some of that fake/synthetic grass, the kind that looks so real. I could see making a table liner with the synthetic grass and placing this edible garden in the center. That would be so cute!