Sadly, the summer of 2014 is almost over. Although if you live in Ontario, it hardly feels like there’s been a summer at all- since April, it’s either felt like a sodden spring or late October, with the smell of cold in the air. Not to complain, though; yesterday was lovely weather for a garden party, and sitting outside eating cucumber sandwiches and crisps from chintzy china immediately took me back to England.
The ingredients for a good garden party are simple, although not all controllable. First, one needs a pleasant day without rain- nobody wants to be sinking their heels into muddy ground, or sipping Earl Grey mixed with rainwater!
Fortunately for me, yesterday’s party was blessed with a sunshine, blue sky, and a cool breeze which made the garden lovely to be in
Activities are also necessary; as they put the guests at ease and give them something to do while the food is prepared or while everyone is feeling lazy and full after the meal. Croquet is a quintessential garden game, but I also like games such as Trivial Pursuit or Chinese Checkers.
The atmosphere of a garden party should be green and relaxed- my mother keeps a beautiful garden, so I have the ideal setting for garden parties at home. I set up our table beneath a sort of gazebo on our deck, and planned to put up some bunting for extra charm, but the bunting went missing so the nearby flowers had to suffice for decoration!
We sat in the midst of the garden, surrounded by flowers and vines
The garden was continued on the table, too, with a bountiful vase of flowers
I love both interior design and entertaining, so setting tables is one of my favourite things to do. And garden parties offer a fabulous opportunity to use vintage dishes, which appeals greatly to my traditionalism and nostalgia!
Lacy linens, floral serviettes, and vintage china create a beautiful, welcoming feel
I don’t think one can hold an English-themed party and not serve tea- it simply isn’t done! But in addition to tea, I had the English drink of summer: Pimm’s English-style. This classic is just Pimm’s No. 1 Cup mixed with lemonade; simple and delicious.
A bottle of Pimm’s, a staple of English summers for years
Despite the pleasant weather, charming table settings, and nostalgic drinks, the highlight of this garden party was the food. My dad helped me make sandwiches (we had cucumber, ham & mustard, and ham & cheddar), and we also had sausage rolls and assorted crisps. Everyone was well-fed and happy!
What a lovely feast!
I didn’t neglect dessert, however- we had trifle, which my mum has made for many a birthday over the past twenty years. It is absolutely stunning in taste and appearance, and was the perfect ending to the party.
Jelly rolls, cream, and berries make such a delectable dessert!
Tea, trifle, and Pimm’s. A truly terrific trio
A garden party need not take hours of planning, and it doesn’t need a complex three-course menu or loads of supervision. The charm of this little event is its simplicity, and it’s best when it celebrates the joys of summer without too much of a fuss.