Now that it is summer I want to spend as much time as I can in the outdoors. It is always lovely to sit outside and read or chat with friends. It is good to have comfortable and sheltered places in the garden where you can do this and enjoy the fine sunny weather, so you need some suitable garden furniture. You can buy items that look exactly like furniture found indoors, but these are not very bohemian, which is the style that I prefer. I think that it is more fun and creative to do something with old furniture and use props to dress up your garden when called for.
It would be nice to have a covered area where we could leave out cushions and less weather proof items and if you have such a structure make the most of it. We have a very basic wooden garden table, an old railway bench that came from our grandparents and some old rusty metal kitchen chairs on our terrace. I like the rustic look, but as a change I dress them up with interesting fabrics and other items for a more exotic feel. Last summer I did this before entertaining some friends.
I covered the table with a painter’s canvas drop cloth. You can buy these quite reasonably from hardware stores in various sizes. Drop clothes are really useful as throws and tablecloths, especially outside, because they are heavy and will not blow around easily. On top of this I put a gold Chinese style table runner and some colourful cloth tablemats, all found at an op shop. Because it was breezy I anchored the ends of the runner with matching paperclips attached to the base cloth and placed straw mats along its edges. These could be used as coasters. On the tablemats I put some (op shop) candleholders and at the far end, an incense burner with lemongrass stick incense to repel flies and mosquitoes, but these weren’t a big problem because of the wind.
An old striped tablecloth was used to cover the railway bench, with some Indian cushions for comfort. We have some black seat cushions that the fit seats of the metal chairs and a couple of striped Indian shawls were thrown over their backs, with cushions to rest against. A large market umbrella shaded the table. From it’s right side near the fernery I pegged up a colourful sarong to cut the glare of the sun. This moved in the wind and was quite soothing. From the wooden internal supports of the umbrella I hung a copper wind chime, found at an op shop and the musical notes also created a relaxing mood. Everyone felt like they had been transported to a more tropical location rather than being in an urban setting and this was a great conversation starter. Some good cocktails did not hurt either. It is worth collecting interesting textiles and table accessories from places like op-shops and Oxfam, so that you can use them in imaginative ways outdoors.
I also like to sit and read or write songs in another sheltered and quiet part of the garden, where it is warmer when there is a cool breeze. A couple of the metal kitchen chairs and an old white cast aluminum table sit in front of a pittosporum hedge and are flanked by a potted wisteria and a pot of thyme. I can put a beach umbrella in the table for shade. With a cool drink, some cushions and a good book, you can be perfectly comfortable in this spot. What more do you need? Well a nice view would help. So opposite the table and chairs, against an old rusty gate, is a collection of bottles, ceramic pots, a statue of The Three Graces, a mask of Pan and some found objects, together with pot plants, to form an interesting scene (referred to in 22 Oct post). Behind this is the cool greenery of the fernery and hanging from the walnut tree above are some wind chimes. This gives me something to look at and listen to when I need a break from reading or writing and I feel that I am in my own little oasis.
Don’t think that you need the latest décor to have an attractive garden for summer entertaining and in which to enjoy the fine weather. It is much more fun to do your own thing and your garden will not be the same as anyone else’s.