”A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in — what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” Victor Hugo

One of the best perks of living in the suburbs is that one can tend and care for a garden. It could be anything really, from small flowering shrubs that add to your home’s curb appeal (and keep the interiors pretty too), to ample vegetable parterres and orchards. I once read that gardening takes a lot of water, especially in the form of perspiration. If that’s the case, the satisfaction that comes from taking care of even the tiniest patch of land is worth the effort!  Plus, studies show that gardening lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, so let’s get gardening! I’m starting small by flower-sitting a friend’s avocado tree, we’ll see where that goes.

For those of you with a real garden and a willingness to get dirty, I have just the right inspiration. Tucked in my ”garden files” I found a pretty garden tour published in Traditional Home. It is a small cutting garden in Winnetka Illinois, designed by landscape designer Craig Bergmann of Lake-Forest. The owners wanted a ”secret” place in a private area of their property, with lush views year-round so Bergmann designed the perfect mix of annuals and perennials that bloom throughout the warmer months.

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Happy May Day, dear friends! I apologize for the lack of posts this past couple of days, but we’ve been traveling last minute. My husband had a work trip to Cambridge come up and Isabella (my daughter) and I decided to join in. Despite the rainy forecast, the weather was stunning over the weekend so we had tons of fun outdoors, exploring Boston and its surroundings.

Today we’re back to life as usual and I just realized it is May already!!! How is that even possible?!! Did April just whizz by?

For today’s post, I’m thinking fine dining outdoors. I gathered over time a great number of beautiful al fresco dining inspiration and it’s time I share some of it with you. Country living definitely has its perks and one of them is being able to be outside more. However, despite your location, there’s always a way to carve out some space for a relaxing, nature filled corner. Even small balconies can be transformed through clever design ideas into a veritable oasis.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to make use of a garden is entertaining outdoors! Nothing beats a fun garden party and I hope you’ll find through these images inspiration for your next garden bash. Spring is on!

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Nina Griscom’s New York apartment

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Let’s be honest, backyard storage is often times an eyesore! A designated dump yard for all of our gardening equipment, lawn mowers, paint brushes and potting benches, the shed can be a real pain to make pretty. But if you thought garden sheds cannot be glamorous, think again because this talented and business savvy mother-daughter duo has taken backyard storage to new heights of chic.

What started as an unfortunate event – their barn burned down a few years back and the neighboring Amish community helped rebuild it – has turned into a creative business idea. Impressed by the skilled craftsmanship of the Amish, the two soon came to realize that the market in the States is lacking in beautifully crafted, prefabricated garden sheds. With this thought, Hillsbrook Collections was born. Inspired by classical architectural styles, their garden cottages are stunning and highly customizable. You can chose your finishes and opt for charming add-ons like towerlets, finials, Dutch doors, trellis work, lanterns or armillarries. The only trouble will be in deciding between their pretty designs!

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Don’t you just love interiors that have a strong indoor/outdoor connection? Well, me too! When it comes to decorating, I have an affinity for rooms with an earthy feel that evoke the tranquility of a garden. Even better if they open onto one!

Whether you have stunning views and a patio right outside of your living room, or not, there are many different ways to bring the outdoors in. You can begin with the color scheme – an earthy palette of greens and grounding browns will work like a charm. Next, use fabrics / wall coverings that depict serene nature scenes and floral patterns. Last, finish the room by incorporating natural textures whenever possible – rattan, sisal and wicker will subtly create a garden-like feel. Now, if you’re bold enough, you can always try a garden trellis! It is by far one of the most dramatic and efficient ways of creating a garden room.

A garden trellis or a treillage (aka as fretwork or lattice) is an architectural structure made of interlacing strips of wood, bamboo or metal, that is widely used in gardens to support climbing trees and plants.

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Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, needs no introduction from my part and neither do her gardens! Some of my favorite moments on her Emmy winning cooking show are the glimpses into her stunning kitchen, as well as her outdoor entertaining. Ina’s garden parties are some of East Hampton’s finest!

The original gardens were designed by Edwina von Gaal and later expanded with the addition of a neighboring property that today houses Ina’s famous barn. The initial lot was divided into four parts – one for the main house (a classic shingle covered farmhouse), one for an orchard, one for the vegetable and kitchen garden, and one part for an open lawn. A decade later, Ina and her husband Jeffrey Garten, managed to purchase a neighboring lot which allowed Ina to build the barn that now serves as her culinary lab and filming studio. The two properties were unified into one dreamy garden with the help of Joseph Tyree, a former associate of von Gaal.

Crab apple trees, white roses and potted hydrangea trees, jasmine, clematis and Russian sage, parterres filled with lavender and a well-cared for vegetable garden – they all blend seamlessly to create an architectural, picture-worthy garden!

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