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Can You Really Entertain Outdoors All Year Round?

Having enjoyed (or perhaps endured) the joint hottest summer on record for the UK, is it possible to prolong those hazy days of entertaining friends and family in the garden?  Or as autumn approaches, is it time to batten down the hatches and swap flip-flops for wellies and ice cold drinks for steaming soup? The answer may surprise you. With a little planning and creativity, you can happily use your garden for entertaining all year round; from using hedge screens to create zones to bringing out a few gadgets to make life easier, your garden can offer a breath of fresh air to all who visit your home.

Why zones work

Whatever the size of your garden, creating zones can help everybody enjoy the space, and hedges are perfect for offering organic, attractive boundaries.  For active families, setting aside space for a trampoline has proved to be the leisure hit of 2018.  For smaller areas, a swingball set or basketball hoop are great ways to encourage outdoor play all year round, without the risk of flying footballs during dinner. Creative souls of any age may enjoy a space with an easel and some paints or chalks for drawing on stones. If you prefer something a little more relaxing, create a sensory area with soothing colours, calming scents and perhaps a water feature.  Finally, create a sociable area by arranging seating facing inwards, lighting so you can chat long after sundown and small portable speakers for music.

Easy entertaining

One crucial aspect of garden entertaining is the provision of food.  If space permits, setting up an outdoor kitchen would create an amazing talking point.  However, with the right company, even just a standard BBQ or pizza oven will make for a delicious and fun evening.  Don’t forget your drinks; there are plenty of portable options to keep drinks cool, which saves you going back and forth to the fridge (something you’ll be keen to avoid as the garden gets wetter and muddier!).

Winter warmers

With the WHO estimating that the British spent 90% of their time indoors, the so-called “indoor generation”, it’s crucial for both physical and mental health to get outside when possible. Rather than writing off the garden as too cold during winter, it’s time to get creative.  Place patio heaters around your seating area, and position a box of blankets or warm throws near the back door so that you can offer them to guests as the cold air draws in.  Candles, lanterns and fairy lights can create a magical atmosphere. Dig out the gas stove and tin mugs from the summer’s camping equipment for hot chocolate and s’mores until it feels Christmassy enough to break out the mulled wine.

The great British summer may be fading away, but with a little imagination, you can continue to use your garden as an entertaining space all year round.  By creating zones you can make everyone feel welcome whatever their age, and of course there’s no shortage of ways to keep the food coming too. This winter, raise a hot chocolate with your loved ones as you huddle up and enjoy the crisp starlit skies.  Your garden is the perfect setting for nights to remember.

Written by Jackie Edwards who is a researcher, editor and writer. Jackie began her career in horticulture and landscape gardening and spent many years helping couples and families achieve their plans to create gardens they could live and work with.

Thank you Jackie for another amazing and informative piece!

Posted in Seasonal Gardening

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