Dining Alfresco

The beginning of summer marks the satisfaction of many long-awaited cravings.  Summer breezes bring floriferous scents, sounds of evening traffic wafting along with the notes of a local band playing cover tunes to my own private concert on our patio.  A good wine, a good book and relaxing conversation along with fresh garden fare.  Perfect evening.

Here are some outdoor must-haves for your dining pleasure…

1.  A great patio heater.  When the nights grow chilly and I want to extend my outdoor dining later in the evening, the propane heater makes a huge difference in our ability to enjoy ourselves.  I sometimes find that more than one is needed if the wind is blowing.

2.  Wine/beverage cooler.  I love this idea for keeping white wine cool on a hot summer day.

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3.  Cool down temperature control.  Pergolas provide shelter from the sun.  For a different and more open feel, the pergola canopy can be angled like a roof, with a center beam. In this case, the roof-like structure allows for a ceiling fan to be run and like their inside counterparts, also has an option for remote control access.

4.  Candle light and informal garden lighting for dinner mood lighting.  This DIY idea I have seen used in both battery operated and plug-in form.  Maybe you’ve switched to LED and need a good use for all those old twinkle christmas lights.  For a step by step in how to make them please check out www.witandwhistle.com.

witandwhistle.com

5.  The sounds of water.  It helps to drown out the heavier traffic noises since we are on a busy street and the size of the fountain doesn’t have to be big to make an impact.

6.  Plant perennials and flowering shrubs that fragrance the air.  I enjoy the scent of Dwarf Korean Lilac, as it is a later flowering and more fragrant shrub than the common lilacs and it is often warm enough to enjoy them during an evening outdoor dining experience.  Also, great options for perennials are Catmint, Casablanca and Stargazer Lilies, Lily of the valley, Russian Sage, or Lavender.  On Catmint and Lily of the valley these fast growing hardy plants can take over.  I usually plant only in areas that are contained or a planter is another option.  Lavender is best in a sheltered location, as I have had difficulty with cold hardiness in some instances.  Remember where there are scented flowers, there are often bees.  They don’t bother me, but some of my clients prefer that flowers are at enough of a distance during late summer when bees are out in droves.  Also, many of these like the Korean lilac smell even better at night.  There are some Annual flowers that also smell best at night like moonflower, or evening stock.  Just in time for dinner time!

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