This keeps the flames active and the flames showing and burning well without smothering the fire with fresh wood. Always light it around half an hour before your first arrivals. Kadai does a blow poker, which helps fan the flames and stop the smoke. If you have an exposed garden, maybe opt for a chiminea instead. I got Philip, a local metal worker who runs Manor Welding to make me one, as good-looking examples are in short supply.
For cover, a simple shelter can be made using posts on the corners, which could be stone, metal or timber with basic timer/ metal beams for the frame for the roof. We then sometimes put a sandwich of heather panels top and bottom with corrugated plastic in the middle, all laid to a slight fall.
This rather “Heath Robinson” approach looks quite acceptable and is not expensive. One such structure has survived well for more than 20 years with only the top heather layer being replaced. At home, we have a white waterproof fabric awning (by TedGem), but when the wind gets going it can generate quite a force, so the structure needs to be able to withstand this.
There is tremendous scope for decorating your garden. For this time of year, we often use chili plants hung with fruit, and big vases of brash magenta dahlias, scarlet amaranthus and lime gladioli. I wrap the plastic plant pots with hessian, or go to the other extreme and apply transfer gold leaf to form some amazing centrepieces.
This is pretty simple to use and, as gold leaf is real gold, it stays stunningly shiny forever. Available from Cornelissen.
Outdoor lighting by lanterns is my favourite. Kadai’s Arabian lanterns are 50cm high and fabulous. Fairy lights or rope lights hung on a string are inexpensive and great to play around with: over pergolas, on buildings and archways they can be used to highlight and add atmosphere.
All that remains is food. Many of the NGS gardens are famous for their fabulous cakes and teas – I am afraid I ran out of time, having spent too long in the garden and not long enough in the kitchen. But a friend who works for Fiona Cairns came to the rescue and turned up with the best spread of beautiful and delicious cakes I have ever seen. Our table has never heaved so much before. You can see the spread on my YouTube video Garden Party Time.
Many gardeners have found this year’s growth overwhelming, no doubt caused by the exceptionally early growing season and the intermittent deluges. Mowing and hedge-cutting are often the big issues. Robotic mowers, meadows, sheep and flails for hedges have helped me massively this year!
Watch Bunny’s latest YouTube videos:
How to Party in the Garden All Year Round
How I kill Perennial Weeds – Forever
Time-Saving Gardening Hacks