Garden Tour: Happy Hour | Midwest Living

Garden Tour: Happy Hour

Want to have a few friends over without going to a lot of work? The ideas at this Minneapolis garden reveal the secret: Let your yard co-host.
  • Don’t fret the prep

    We spend all week watching the details, so don’t fuss on the weekends. Dennie Juillerat and Kevin Thompson hand guests a gin martini and let them meander through a yard that entices with its refreshing lack of lawn. Sly surprises like Brussels sprouts, red banana and dwarf cattails prompt lively cocktail chatter. 

  • On the side

    Entrances set the mood. Creating a side yard garden turns this over- looked area into a tempting passage to the party (and keeps guests from cutting through your house).

  • Walk this way

    “Go for a natural look rather than a manicured look,” says Kevin, who prefers winding paths built from stone pavers, gravel and vintage brick. Twists and turns create a constant sense of discovery and make city-size yards feel bigger. “Even with houses surrounding and freeway traffic in the background, people say they can get lost in the garden and forget the world for a bit,” Kevin says.

  • Veg out

    Plant veggies so guests can pick party nibbles or take some home. Update the crudite platter in a single color scheme.

  • H2-Ooooh

    It’s easy to relax when burbling fountains and chattering waterfalls supply the soundtrack. As nature’s kinetic art, moving water is a surefire crowd-pleaser. You can DIY a fountain by adding a submersible pump to a ceramic pot or urn.

    How to Create a Double-Decker Fountain 


  • The artful minglers

    Container plantings are an outdoor party’s secret sauce. Rearrange them for privacy, to camouflage a bare spot and to bring seasonal blooms to the forefront. “We use specimen plants and seek as much foliage interest as flower interest since many flowers bloom so briefly,” Kevin says. These planters spotlight gigantic voodoo lily leaves and colorful caladium.

  • 5 simple steps to an entertaining yard

    1/ Create a garden that brings you joy, and it will work the same magic on others, Kevin says. “You can easily make the space entertaining because your passion will be evident as you share it.”

    2/ Design garden rooms, such as a seating or fire-pit area. Separate and define each space with trellises, gates and pieces of art.

    3/ Make sure the dining spot is in the shade, because no one likes to bake in the sun while eating.

    4/ Plant to delight the senses: giant tropicals, rustling grasses, fragrant jasmine and fuzzy lamb’s-ears. Add wildlife-friendly varieties to attract birds and butterflies.

    5/ Set the mood with lighting, which can be as simple as hanging string lights between trees. Options keep improving, including light fixtures with a mosquito-repellent system or music. 

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