With a little know-how, you can transform your garden into the perfect setting for a stylish, relaxed get-together.
The sound of plants rustling in the breeze is preferable to the noise of traffic, so plant some tall, leafy plants near where you’re all going to sit. Think bamboo or tall flowers – and if your budget allows consider a small fountain. The rippling of water will add a touch of sophistication to any gathering.
Don’t let sunset put an end to the evening. With a little planning – and no need for electric floodlights – you can set the scene for a night to remember. Try tea-lights, candle-lit lanterns and solar-powered fairy lights. But take care with naked flames around children and don’t forget to hang your solar lights a few days before your party, so the battery has time to charge.
Use nature as a theme for table decorations. Float the heads of summer flowers in bowls of water – and try adding a few drops of scented oil too for added fragrance. Cactus dahlia varieties, like ‘Mel’s Orange Marmalade’, ‘Purple Gem’ and ‘Nuit d’Ete’ will be both spectacular and sophisticated.
We’ve all been to self-service salad bars in restaurants – but now’s your chance to go one better. Or rather, to grow one better. It takes a little planning, but will be well worth it. About a month before your party, sow salad leaves in medium-sized pots - red-leaved lettuce, rocket and mizuna are easy to grow and tasty. Then place the pots around the table along with scissors, mini watering cans and colanders so your guests can pick and rinse their delicious, fresh salad.
Eat a rainbow
You can brighten up salads with a dazzling array of multi-coloured, edible flowers. Try violas, nasturtiums and calendula (marigolds) – all of them taste as good as they look.
Spice things up
Many herbs and spices are easy to grow in pots and will give you fresh flavour all year round. They also look great and release their scent every time you brush by. Keep them within arm’s reach when you’re barbecuing and did you know the sturdy stems of rosemary plants make great kebab skewers? Simply cut off the leaves before you add your meat or veg – then chop the leaves finely and add them to your hand-made marinade.
Even the humble ice cube can be given a makeover. Edible flowers or mint leaves added to your ice cubes will be sure to, well, break the ice at parties. Simply quarter-fill your ice cube tray with filtered water that’s been boiled and cooled – this makes for clearer cubes. Then add the flowers face down (try viola, a sprig of lavender, calendula, or mint leaves) then freeze. Add more water to fill halfway, then freeze again. Fill to the top, and freeze for a final time.
And one last thing…
We hope we’ve given you some inspiration for your garden. But if you’re planning on giving it a makeover and buying any expensive items, check your home insurance policy covers contents in your garden.
This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.