Summer evenings — perfect for al fresco dining and entertaining — soon will be here. Whether it’s a family get-together for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, a graduation blowout bash or any other celebration, the backyard is a wonderful place to entertain guests. It’s a setting that allows for bringing people together on a more personal level without the need to keep everything super tidy.
One décor element that’s practical, and also can be whimsical, for any outdoor gathering is the lighting.
“Great surroundings really aren’t about the money. The outdoor area is about style,” said Teryl Ciarlo of Teryl Designs. “My dream garden is formal, surrounded by trees twinkling with the light of romantic hanging lanterns. A long farmhouse table sits atop clean grey gravel, inviting guests to gather and enjoy an outdoor fireplace. We’re surrounded by rows of manicured grass, climbing roses, clean boxwood hedge and a bench for a vantage point.”
The self-professed “gardenista” and landscape designer loves the idea of introducing dancing lights into the yard in order to draw guests to the garden while extending the indoor living space. She credits her grandmother with introducing her to the power of romantic floral arrangements and settings.
Lighting is vital. Ciarlo likes to mix-and-match lanterns hanging in trees, patio string lights, candles and even small votives. Together, they add charm and whimsy.
“Dancing lights provide the magic to uplift your mood,” she said.
Using various light sources can add that fun and special touch.
City lights often dim prospects of a starry night, but hosts can take matters into their own hands by offering guests the moon and the stars — even if they are not produced by Mother Nature.
Electric lights aren’t the only forms of illumination. Garden art — using reflective glass or solar-powered pieces — can add sparkle, too.
Designer Allegra DeAngelo created a Kaleidoscope series of colourful tomato cages and spiral supports adorned with glass inserts for Gardener’s Supply Company. She’s a longtime fan of the late architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and much of her work shows his influence.
“I incorporate colour blocking intentionally. The turquoises, blues and greens blend with the plants and the reds and yellows are like flowers, adding pops of colour,” she said. “As the sun goes down, the supports almost look like jewellery for the garden, twinkling and adding ambience and sparkle.”
The company also offers a lovely glass bluebird that lights up, Solar Northern Lights Spheres that gently change colour as the evening progresses and sets of illuminated calla lilies that will fool many into thinking they’re real. This is real eye candy for the yard.
Liz Lawrence curates garden décor for Gardener’s Supply Company in Burlington, Vermont. Garden art and pieces that add sparkle are widespread, especially on Pinterest.
“The whole social media thing has created a focus on self-expression and this (garden art) is definitely one way to shout it out,” said Lawrence.
It’s all about setting the mood and that means paying attention to details.
“In the old days, gardens were meant to walk around. You were supposed to meander and bring in all the smells and textures,” Ciarlo said.
They still are, but they have taken on the role of an extra room for many homeowners.
If you don’t have fabulous weather-friendly furniture, don’t fret, she said. Just bring things from inside out. It’s just for a day. And if you’re going the extra mile with décor, you certainly want to see it.