Creating the Cocktail Hour Garden

Creating the Cocktail Hour Garden

Cocktail Hour Garden deck in early springHave you ever become so busy that you simply forgot how to unwind outdoors at the end of the day? Well, C.L. Fornari wants to change that. She wants you to create such a relaxing outdoor space that you can’t wait to watch the sun set and the evening begin in your garden – especially with good friends.

So, make a toast to enjoyable cocktail hour gardens with these good tips from a popular garden educator and book author.

Cocktail-Hour-Garden-Fr-Cover-smallRecently, I had a chance to read the new book by C. L. Fornari, The Cocktail Hour Garden.  There’s a lot of helpful information on creating outdoor spaces conducive for “Green Hour” gatherings. Along with good general gardening advice, the book addresses how to attract nature to your gardens, as well as design elements that can bring the essences of air, fire, sound, water and scent to these spaces.

From plant suggestions to party-enhancing designs, this clever guide helps you think differently about your gardens.  And with any luck, you’ll find yourself spending more time outside in nature, watching the light change in your yard. Recently, C.L. Fornari agreed to give Seasonal Wisdom readers some tips for building your own cocktail hour garden.

Q) What inspired you to write the book?  

C.L. Fornari: I was inspired to write this book, because of my back deck. (Shown in the photo above) My husband and I work constantly, both for our professions (he’s a marine geologist and I’m a garden communicator) and in our gardens. We both love our work, but when we moved to Poison Ivy Acres nine years ago, we began to see the wisdom of stopping work in the evening before dinner, putting down garden tools and all digital devices, and pausing to reconnect with each other and the natural world.

Cocktail Hour Garden with yellow flowers and conifers

We sit on our back deck with snacks and beverages, and watch the birds, butterflies and other critters. We take the time to see how the light illuminates the plants, and to comment on the day. For at least a half-hour we enjoy what we’ve created and just relaxing in each other’s company and our surroundings. From this practice came the idea to do a book about this cocktail hour ritual.

Q) Why are late-afternoon and early-evening landscapes a worthwhile consideration for gardeners?

C.L. Fornari: Too often gardeners and home landscapers focus on the work of planting, mowing and maintaining…we forget to pause and appreciate what we’ve created. And these days we’re all so screen-connected that we need to almost force ourselves to put down our phones and computers and look at the miracles that are going on in our own backyards.

Most of us aren’t able to do this in the early morning or mid-day, so the cocktail hour is the perfect time to create this opportunity for relaxation.

Cocktail hour garden in veggie garden

Q) What are some common misconceptions about cocktail hour gardens?

C.L. Fornari: Many people think it’s only about an alcoholic beverage. One reviewer commented that there weren’t enough cocktail recipes! The book isn’t called “Garden Cocktails” but “The Cocktail Hour Garden” – in other words, it’s not the beverage that’s most important here, but the environment and creating a ritual to relax and enjoy it.

Misconceptions aside, one of the frequent “ah-ha!” moments people have when reading this book is the realization that we could be using our veggie gardens more completely during the evening hours. Those who grow vegetable gardens spend a great deal of time planting, weeding and harvesting, but often forget that we can also just hang out there and appreciate the garden visually. A foldable bistro table and chairs can instantly transform the veggie garden area into a cocktail hour garden…and the sugar snap peas or cherry tomatoes are instant snacks.

Sun teas for cocktail hour garden partiesQ) Anything you’d like to add?

I think that too often we who love gardening and plants talk so much about the process that we forget to stress the environment and experience that is created. Although garden communicators want to help people be successful by providing useful information, I think we can do more to paint the picture of what all the soil amending, planting and weeding is about.

It’s about creating flower beds where we pick “give away bouquets” to leave on co-workers’ desks or in the drawer in the drive-through banking windows. It’s about being able to pick the freshest, most flavorful food on earth thirty minutes before dinner. It’s about having colorful, fragrant plants surrounding our outdoor offices during the day and fire pits at night.

For me, this book is my way to encourage people to go out into their own yards and gardens frequently for a unique experience that sustains body and soul.

Thanks for your time! Hope you have many wonderful cocktail hours in your garden.

The Cocktail Hour Garden

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the author. I was not compensated to write the post, nor was I told what to write.


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