Fall has to be the most perfect time for an outdoor get together. Invite a few friends over and celebrate. Just like when you entertain indoors, entertaining outdoors requires some sprucing up as well. Take an objective walk through your garden area and decide where you want everyone to gather.
Pick a focal point as your backdrop and you’re ready to begin.
- Pull out the tallest or widest spreading weeds
- Clip out dead branches (be sure to save any larger dead shrub or tree branches and “plant” them in a bucket with sand or gravel, spray paint it and add fun lights – voila! a decoration)
- Remove any dead plants
- Prune and dead head those plants with spent blooms
- Add a few well placed splashes of color (such as newly planted containers, mums that you just found at the farmer’s market or sunflowers in tall containers or baskets will make a huge difference and they can cover up any imperfections)
- If you can’t find fresh cut sunflowers, pick up some silk ones from your local craft store. They work great in a pinch. The newer silk ones look amazingly real now and it’s the color and atmosphere that you’re going for anyway
- Remember, after the sun sets, add some candlelight and the atmosphere becomes magical
- Sweep or hose off any stone, wood or concrete walkways, patios or decks the day of the gathering
- Put down a new layer of mulch, or if you haven’t the time pick up a large bag of aged compost from the hardware store a day or two before the event and put a scoop of it here and there in spaces where the ground is visible. This limited effort will still give your garden a fresh, well kept appearance and really makes the plants pop.
A folding table or two will be perfect. No tablecloth? Use an old sheet or burlap and tie off the corners at the table legs or use hair bands to secure it by bunching the fabric immediately underneath the table at the corners and tying it off with the band. Quilts work nicely too and have better weight. Some potted herbs on the table make for interesting and wonderfully fragrant mini-centerpiece.
What to serve. Keep it simple and quick. Fall is a great time for singe pot dishes such as chili, hardy soups, coq au vin, lasagne or beef daube. Most of these dishes are perfect for the slow cooker, leaving you more time for other projects or just looking good. A few garnishes, bakery bread, bowls and spoons will allow the guests to help themselves. And, what better way to end a hardy fall meal than with brownies, apple pie, pumpkin rolls or spice cake? And though, it’s optional, a good (not necessarily expensive) red wine. Yummmmmm……
Here are a few suggestions for bringing to life some of those empty flower pots. All you need to do is select one plant from the first group, one to two plants from the second group and one to two from the third group. Do be mindful of your selected colors when pairing though. Try to select plants with contrasting colors and textures for best results.
Group 1 (Spotlight Plant):
- Thuja Green giant tree
- Hameln ornamental grass
- Karley Rose ornamental grass
- Morning Light ornamental grass
- Magnolia Jane
- Barberry Sunjoy Gold Pillar
- Russian Sage
- Nandina Firepower
- Japanese Red Maple
- Dark green or pyramidal arborvitae
Group 2 (Filler Plants):
- Hellebore Ivory Prince
- Heuchera Plum Pudding
- Heuchera Mystic Angel
- Autumn Brilliance Fern
- Japanese Painted Fern
- Sungold Cypress
- Ogon Grass
Group 3 (Draping Groundcover):
- Angelina Sedum
- English Ivy
- Baltic Ivy
- Creeping Rosemary
- Elfin Thyme
- Corsican Mint
- Red Creeping Thyme
- Kewensis Euonymus
Especially in Group 1, these suggestions are based on younger plants. After a couple of years in the container, they will be ready to be transplanted into a permanent location.
Add twinkle lights to trees, fence or frame. The clear ones with a golden tint are almost like candlelight and a few well placed candles are a great touch. Put some tiny gravel or sand in the bottom of old glass jars and then steady some chunky candles in them. If becomes a little breezy, they won’t blow out. The jars make excellent hurricanes and can safely double as walkway lights.
I hope this gives you a few ideas on making your garden and fall evening a special one. Why not share your favorite fall entertaining tips and ideas? I look forward to hearing from you.