How to create a garden for entertaining
I’ve just visited a dramatically gorgeous garden for entertaining – and it’s also a plant-lover’s heaven.
Two gardens for entertaining
And while many of us have a front garden and a back garden, Dan’s home is unusual – it has two side gardens. He recently bought the house next door and knocked through.
Broadstairs is a charming historic town, with houses and streets growing higgeldy-piggeldy up from a beautiful sweeping beach. A quirk of architecture means that both of Dan’s gardens are tucked away around a separate entrance door on either side.
One garden has an outdoor kitchen and a large generous dining table.
The other is called ‘the Gin-and-Tonic garden’ because it has a small table and chairs for enjoying an evening drink.
Both are crammed with flowers and plants, many with unusual foliage.
Plants for privacy in a garden for entertaining
Dan has made his garden private and sheltered for entertaining by using lots of tall plants. Like any seaside town, Broadstairs can be windy, so he’s chosen a few unusual evergreen trees to create a year-round windbreak and the sense of being tucked away from the town.
His theme is broadly ‘exotic gardening’ – definitely one of today’s hot new trends. (There’s advice on creating an exotic garden in a cool climate and an unusual tropical garden, also in Kent, in previous posts.)
How to install an outdoor kitchen
Dan has a basement kitchen. Having people round meant a lot of going up and down stairs during the evening. He also works as a buyer for John Lewis, with a four hour daily commute, so entertaining needs to be as relaxing as possible. The solution was to build an ‘outdoor kitchen’ in the garden for entertaining.
He prepares food beforehand in the main house kitchen, and cooks on the built-in barbecue/hob in the garden. There is also a sink, worksurface area and some storage.
‘Make sure that you use good quality tanalised wood for an outdoor kitchen,’ advises Dan. ‘My kitchen isn’t under cover, so it gets rained on, snowed on and is hot in the summer. However, because I used the right wood, it has lasted for ten years.’
‘But don’t let the wood touch the ground directly, or it will rot. I’ve created something like a splashback in slate at the base so that water on the ground doesn’t rot the wood.’
He also advises you to minimise the number of joins on your outdoor kitchen work surface. ‘We started off using the same slate tiles as we had on the ground, but the joins all leaked. Now I have a piece of granite with just one join and there are no leaks. A kitchen unit outside will swell and shrink as the weather changes – it’s quite different from a kitchen inside. So it’s easy for cracks to appear.’
Marine-grade stainless steel
It’s also essential for any metal in outdoor kitchen equipment – the hob, barbecue and even the taps – to be of marine grade steel, so that they can survive the weather, including Broadstairs’ salt air.
Plants in a garden for entertaining
We’ve already mentioned evergreen shrubs and trees for privacy and shelter. Dan also likes scented plants. A splendid Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) welcomes visitors at the gate, perfuming the air in summer and creating an evergreen wall the whole year round.
Having unusual and exotic plants also creates interest.
Furniture in a garden for entertaining
Dan has a table made of recycled oak, so it will go more silvery with age. He’s also chosen light, easy-to-wash, arm-free chairs, which tuck neatly under the table. Big garden chairs with arms would have taken up much more space.
Fridge or no fridge?
Dan decided not to have a fridge in the outdoor kitchen, but he does have a sheltered spot on the worksurface where an ice-bucket can sit.
See more of Dan’s garden on video:
And we’ve somewhat neglected the Gin-and-tonic garden, so here’s a shot of it:
And if you visit Broadstairs, don’t miss…
Don’t miss an ice-cream or an ice-cream sundae at Morelli’s, the traditional ice-cream parlour on the sea front. We treated ourselves to an evening swim and then had a Salted Caramel Nut Sundae. A heavenly way to round off a delightful evening.