A few months ago some of my garden friends on Facebook were discussing having a plant and cutting swap meet. They discussed what could be done and threw around ideas of where to hold it.
Most of these particular friends live not that far from me. I immediately put up my hand and said 'hello, we have our own private park and you'd all be welcome to come here!' From that moment on we began to plan the event, chose a date, worked out that all would bring plants, cuttings and produce to swap. And also a plate of food to share. Plus picnic things such as chairs, blankets, etc. Us girls even talked about whether we'd wear dresses and hats and talked about the garden parties in the UK. Some did wear dresses and hats too!
I began reading up on garden parties and searching for images online. Pinterest showed an amazing amount of ideas, some of which I borrowed. I had so much fun planning and organising for the event. It was an exciting thing for me. My youngest daughter said it sounded like I was planning a wedding :-) That could be. It's been 10 years since the last wedding in our family.
Two weeks before the party I went op shopping and had the best fun! At one shop I bought 3 china tea pots and some teacups and saucers to add to the lot we already had. And then at another op shop I got another tea pot and some white table cloths which I washed when I got home.
The week before the party I bought pots of colour and placed them into coloured or ceramic pots to dot around our park. Months before I'd bought petunias to put in our large stone pot by the driveway - they're all still in full colour. I cooked up 5 dozen cupcakes the night before and thought I might make fresh scones in the morning, but didn't end up having time and really didn't need them anyway. Graham, my husband, had mowed the lawns with his ride-on the weekend before and then a few evenings before whipper snipped and blew away all the debris and fallen leaves off the pathways and driveway.
On the morning I blew up some balloons and tied them with string around our entrance fencing to indicate where we are. We put up our trestle tables, pulled out different chairs and a table from our various verandahs, dressed up the pergola table with a table cloth, planted pots of colour around the palce, and pots with forks, knives and spoons, as I'd seen on Pinterest. Graham cleaned the wheelbarrow and bought bags of ice to turn it into an ice barrow for cold drinks. I boiled water to put into thermos onto the pergola table for topping up drinks and, as guests arrived, I made 4 different flavoured teas, one for each pot, so our guests had choices. And there was plenty of food being shared around too.
The array of plants, cuttings and produce we had for swaps was amazing. Lots of pumpkins, spring onions that were over-sized, figs and grapefruit. Then there were bonsai plants of all sorts of trees, bushes and climbers: a beautiful pink hoya, various geraniums, salvia, ferns, orchids, bromeliads, oak and liquidamber seedlings, grasses and some climbers too. We all had fun choosing things we wanted to take home - it did take a bit of convincing for some to realise they didn't have to pay for what they chose - it was simply to swap and take what they wanted. We had whatever was left and wasn't disappointed with the array. We couldn't fit all the plants and produce on the two trestle tables so there was an overflow on the lawn below and around the tables.
The weather was amazing too. The forecast was for a windy day, 27C with a storm front coming through in the afternoon and possible heavy rain. We were truly blessed. It was windy when we were first setting up and I wondered if we'd have to adjourn inside. But not long before our first guests arrived at 10am it had calmed down and remained that way for the duration of the party. The last lot left around 4pm and my husband and I set about packing up the tables and putting things away. We managed to get the last things inside just as the first drops of rain started. The wind had picked up not long after 4pm. We were very fortunate indeed.
We had 28 people come, there were about 34 invited, so that was very good for our very first garden party. This consisted of gardening friends online (some of whom I'd never met face-to-face before that day), family, friends and neighbours. I say 'first' because many did say to me 'when's the next one?' or 'next year....'. I had to smile because, for weeks, I'd been thinking the very same thing. We will be holding another in Spring. Those who couldn't make it for various reasons have already said they're not missing the next one.
These are members of the Garden Group on Facebook called Aussie Garden Lovers. Many of us have known each online for a few years now but some I've known in real life much longer. Most live nearby but not all. One couple travelled to the Dandenong Ranges from the Gippsland and another travelled from Sunbury which is way west of Melbourne city.
I think we may have started a new tradition for Kozee Korner - which is what our house is called. All in all, our very first garden party was, indeed, a success.