Said spaces are at opposite ends of the size scale. Living in the countryside, Alex has what I call a “proper” garden, which has a vegetable garden, flower beds, and actual space for running around and games and parties whilst the sun slides behind the fields. I, on the other hand, have a tiny London garden, big enough for a table for two, a bench, clambering pink roses, lavender bushes, pots of herbs and a jasmine arch. I admit that when the weather is like this, I eye Alex’s set-up with some envy.
But what we share, despite the disparity in plot size, is the desire to get outside. In the mornings, I throw open the doors and windows to let in the cool morning air and – in an ideal set-up – pottering with my coffee before the morning rush ensues. In the evening, we dine al fresco. You may have seen on our Stories that Alex had a dinner party in the garden last weekend – with honeycomb balls in the trees and a table setting to gladden the heart.
You don’t need the excuse of a midsummer party to make your outside space as inviting as possible. Adopt the cliche of thinking of it like another room (particularly if your house errs on the smaller side, like mine. I apply this to balconies, too, btw. Have outside space, will zhuzh.)
So, string up some lights (I have solar-powered fairy lights in my apple tree (try Homebase or Amazon – we also have these large lightbulbs which you can find in good old Aldi). Buy some new garden furniture (this Habitat bistro set is a bargain, or head to Cox & Cox for something more traditional). Alternatively, give an old one a lick of paint; opt for some generous cushions (something like this, perhaps?) so people (even if that’s just you and a book) can lounge. Light some candles (situated inside storm lamps – see below – so they don’t splutter out at the slightest provocation) and eat outside. I like to set the table with an actual tablecloth and proper crockery because, well, it looks nice and that makes me happy. Which is, after all, what your garden ought to be about.
1. Lanterns, from £55, Linea at House of Fraser; 2. Melamine cups, £14 for a set of 4, Royal Doulton; 3. Cocktail tray, £40, Biba at House of Fraser; 4. Seat cushion, £6.99, H&M Home; 5. Large tealight holder, £17.99, H&M Home; 6. H&M Home; 7. Lemon jug, £6.99, and 8. lemon and watermelon tumblers, £2.99, both H&M Home; 9. Napkins, £25 for a set of 4, and Artisan bowl, £40 for 4, both The White Company; 10. Gingham tablecloths, £9.99-£12.99, Zara Home; 11. Hammock, £83, La Redoute; 12. Striped cushion, £6, H&M Home; 13. Honeycomb balls, £7.50, Not On The High Street; 14. Wrought iron chairs, £235 for 2, La Redoute; 15. Festoon lights, £45, Cox & Cox; 16. Rattan bench, now £243.75, Cox & Cox
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