26 Jun 2022

Gardening: Summertime, and dining in the garden is easy

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening: Summertime, and dining in the garden is easy

A beautiful outdoor dining setting

Summer is the perfect time to kick back and spend time with friends, and where better than in the garden? Sharing a late breakfast with a friend or my kids is the perfect way to start the day - my morning coffee with a lovely platter of fruit and berries and mixed croissants is my absolute favourite beginning to a sunny day and reminds me of days in the sun on holidays or business trips to Italy and France.

As the day progresses into afternoon and early evening, it's time to enjoy a glass of something cold and fresh. My go-to choices are a crisp Sancerre or an Italian Gavi with a bowl of olives on the terrace, sitting on the sofa putting the world to rights with my besties.

Alternatively, dinner in the garden is spent with family and friends. My outdoor dining table seats 10 and with a family of six this is definitely needed. I do love to make an occasion of dining outdoors, it's definitely something to celebrate, spending such quality time with your favourite people.

I love to start the dinner with crudités - sliced and small pieces of vegetables and salads with one or two dips. My current go-to dips are a beetroot hummus with a good squeeze of lemon or a roasted aubergine dip with plenty of tahini. I love the idea of picking and dipping, which doesn’t interrupt the relaxed chat. For the main event, the barbecue comes into its own and I have an array of go-to recipes of lamb, fish or chicken, always served with a couple of bowls of salads and pulse salad.

Pizza perfection

Once a week, during the spring and summer months, is pizza night. My eldest and youngest are the two that make the pizza dough and toppings for the pizzas and garlic breads. I pull together a Caesar salad, and the pizza oven has everything cooked and ready in a matter of minutes. It tastes so much better with the wood fired taste. These times, in the great outdoors, are when the best memories are made.

The last thing I always love is scent. Just as inside, scent lifts the spirits and the senses really start to kick in. Most of my memories are forged by scent first and then sight. This is much harder outdoors though, as it's more difficult to retain a scent.

The flowers you choose can help but candles are a great way to do this. My go-to scents for outdoors are a wonderful charred lemon scent with a touch of sweetness, usually from jasmine. A mixture of those two candles would be my absolute dream. Just like that, I’ve been transported to some of my favourites cafes or restaurants in the South of France or Italian riviera – it's amazing what a good scent can do.

To enable the scent to hit you naturally in your garden, plant an evergreen jasmine climber on a frame, close to your seating or dining area or in a spot in the garden that you pass that will you catch and stop you in your tracks. It needs to be in a position that gets good sun, but that smell is worth finding the perfect spot.

Next week, it's back to jobs in the garden and fingers crossed I can start to show you those much awaited images of my own garden as it reaches the final stages.

Until then, happy gardening!

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