April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Spring Is Here: Garden Parties in the Garden State

Pesach is the harbinger of spring, a time to think about what comes next. Do you have a simcha in the offing? Whether it is an engagement party, anniversary, wedding or any lifecycle celebration that will take place between April and October, think about the great outdoors. The color scheme is nature. And it is all so romantic. Your garden, if properly prepared, is a perfect spot to serve guests and make them feel special.

First you need to start with a healthy and good-looking garden. That takes preparation and dedication, even when you work with a landscaper. Check your property to determine the traffic flow. Do you have shady decks to accommodate the food? Or will guests come through the house, collect their food and go back outdoors? Do you have enough room for all your guests to sit? Is there an accommodation available in case, horror of horrors, it rains? And how do you get your garden ready when you are clueless?

Passionate local gardeners and nursery owners, like Mrs. Klinger at Klinger’s Farm on River Road in New Milford, can reel off the names of what to plant for maximum display at your event. She will tell you the best way to plan is to start a year in advance and choose the right flowers for the right beds. She has a huge selection of flowering fruit trees, shrubs and showy perennials, and will take the time to explain what you need to do. She also has gorgeous container gardens. You may also want to check Home Depot and Lowe’s to see what’s available—and you may find an associate who knows something about gardening.

In late April/early May, when spring offers warm afternoons and nippy evenings, weeping cherry trees should be in full bloom with a wave of tulips and daffodils beneath it. Those planting need to go into the ground in late October, long before your event. Hydrangeas, gladiolas, and annuals are great in the summer months, as are day lilies, but they need to get into the ground early, too. There is an alternative, however.

Surround your garden with containers filled with brightly colored annuals you nurse from first frost and flats through full bloom. Baskets filled with annuals can be hung from trees and eaves, lined up along patio and deck railings, and once your guests are gone, you get to enjoy the beauty for the rest of the season. Check your local nurseries or farms. From vendors like them, you can create your own displays by choosing a variety of plants in “flats”—multiple packages—and plant them yourself. This takes time, containers, digging, and lots of dirt to get out from under your fingernails. Watering every day is essential, unless there are solid days of rain. If you are a busy person, you may need to set up a sprinkler system to make sure your plantings are always at their peak.

Lawn prep is important too. If you are planning a June wedding, the anti-crabgrass and dandelion control needs to be handled now. The lawn should be kept at 2.5 inches in length because if you leave it long, your guests will kill it. You might also suggest that ladies wear flat-heeled shoes. Although spikes will aerate the ground, they will ruin the Jimmy Choos and Manolos. Make sure the chairs you use don’t dig holes. They should have plastic protectors or a flat surface.

As many as 200 people can attend an open-house, garden party, if the layout is properly planned. They can collect their food inside—vegetable dishes and fresh salads, prepared by a local kosher caterer, and walk out into your stunning backyard. Disposable dishes, plenty of garbage cans, a good dj and enough chairs and ice (ICE is the key ingredient to any party) can make your celebration something your guests will talk about for a long time. It might not be the Great Gatsby, but it can be a great Garden State Party and a wonderful celebration.

By Jeanette Friedman

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