Garden Open House: Plus my homemade ranch dressing and fresh garden tea recipes

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It’s been a secret dream of mine… to have a garden open house that is.

We moved into our farmhouse seven years ago. It was an abandoned foreclosed home with most of the windows busted out and an interior that said a lot about the previous owners- nothing good! We looked at the house for the first time in the middle of winter, little did I know there wouldn’t be a garden to find.

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As for trees and shrubs, there was one very large and beautiful maple tree and an apple tree in the back yard, a nice hedge of antique hyrangeas on the side of the house and a couple lilac bushes. Not bad for some, but not near what my heart desired.

Breakfast Patio8 emailver

I’ve shared the creation of all the gardens here in my blogs except the patio. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the first two years labor. It was a big job and being busy with the other things in our life, it ended up taking three years… we finished just last month!

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Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now...

Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now…

Over the years my garden’s have evolved as have I… my likes and my tastes have grown and are depicted in my cottage style gardens. I love simply being in them… breathing the aromas that surround me… listening to the wind whisper through the leaves… watching the hummingbirds busily work. My gardens are simply my sanctuary.

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So, an open house… now that will be an undertaking I’m sure. I’ve read about and attended several… and secretly dreamed, “Some day… some day I can share my gardens…”

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So when will I say that the time has arrived? I don’t know… so I think I’ll just create a plan of action right here with all of you and maybe a Pinterest board of my dreams, LOL- you can follow me there too at For Dragonflies And Me @ Pinterest.

Lets start with the INVITATION… garden themed of course. I plan on using vintage prints of botanicals with some pretty ribbons. You’ll need to decide who you are planning to invite: will it be just close friends and family? neighbors? What about your Facebook, Twitter, Blog followers and whatever other social media sites/groups you may be involved with? You can send out a formal invitation using snail mail and/or via email/FB/Twitter, etc.
Host A Cookie Exchange Luncheon, Making The Invitation and Some Yummy Cookie Recipes!

Have a Guest Book ready for the guests to sign. I plan on using a pretty garden style notebook/journal like this one.
[caption id="attachment_1649" align="alignnone" width="225"]Garden themed journal can be used as a guest book

A ‘Thank You Gift’ is a special touch that your guests will appreciate. I make blank stationary photo-greeting cards with many of my photographs to sell at market. These are a useful and beautiful gift that your guest will appreciate.
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When you’re guests arrive, have a cute chalk board set up on an easel to ‘Welcome’ and direct them.
[caption id="attachment_1647" align="alignnone" width="180"]Photo credit to Mary Jane's Farm Photo credit to Mary Jane’s Farm

Creating the MENU is next and the time of year should determine what will be on it. If you have your own garden, try to use things that you’ve grown. This is the menu and photo’s from one of my recent get-to-gethers.
~Watermelon bowl with mixed fruit served on a green Depression glass cake plate.
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~Artisan goat cheese served in antique tea cups with garden themed spreaders served on platter with several varieties of crackers on an elevated platter.
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~Fresh garden salad served on pretty platter with dressings served in mini cream pitchers and matching bowl served on a platter as well.
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~Fresh home made Garden Tea served in my bee hive drink jug
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I made tags stating the flavors of each dressing and goat cheese and attatched it to the handle of cups and pitchers.
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Put utensils separately in Terra cotta pots along with napkins in a slightly larger one. Place all these in a fabric lined long handled basket along with throw away trays.
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The Table should be as special as the menu…
~Use a quilt for the table cloth. If you plan on having several small tables, use a mix of cute sheets or table clothes overlaid with pretty linens. This is one of my favorite quilts to use. It can be used for spring, summer or fall!
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A pretty centerpiece is the final touch for the table…and don’t forget candles. Here I’ve placed two scented jar candles in Terra cotta pots to go along with the theme.
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~Bouquets should be made with whatever is blooming in your gardens…
Peonies in blue mason jars are beautiful and such an elegant contrast
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Hosta leaves are timeless and will last for weeks in the vase…mix different varieties of height and colors for interest.
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~Having a few welcoming area’s for guests to sit and visit is always a nice touch…
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Room for two in the grill station.
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Three old metal chairs around a cozy fire bowl in the patio
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Our patio table complete with a high chair 😉
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Neil built this swing frame beside our fire pit. It’s more child friendly than adult… Seating for six around the fire…very cozy in our over sized chairs. I typically use cute sheets or table clothes as seat covers.

Here are my home made Ranch Dressing and Garden Tea Recipes… enjoy friends

Ranch Dressing
2 cups Mayonnaise DO NOT exchange for Miracle Whip or Salad Dressing!!!!
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp. dry parsley or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped finely
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

Combine mayo and milk; whisk together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and refridgerate for at least an hour so flavors can blend.
*Note: It will thicken, but if you want it a bit thicker add 1 Tbsp. of mayo at a time until desired consistency; if too thick do the same, but with milk.

Fresh Garden Tea Concentrate
8 cups water
4 cups raw organic sugar
6 cups tea leaves
mint tea

Bring water and sugar to a hard boil for 5 minutes; add tea leaves and remove from heat. Cover and let steep 5 to 8 hours.

TO MAKE: combine 1 part tea concentrate to 2 parts cold water.
You can freeze the concentrate for up to a year, so if you have lots of tea growing, you can enjoy this all year long.

So, now we have a plan of action… just need to get all the projects done!
This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden... follow the link for an easy how-to!
Happy Day,
Jean

4 thoughts on “Garden Open House: Plus my homemade ranch dressing and fresh garden tea recipes

  1. Hi Jean! It’s me Deb the Beach Farmgirl blogger…Love your gardens and your open house garden plans…You have some great ideas for a lovely event posted here…
    Here’s my little garden tour tip for you!
    Keep it simple and let your gardens be the star of the day…
    Things to definitely include:
    Chalk Board Welcome!
    Evite and / hand written invites… love your vintage botanical idea
    Food: Light refreshments are perfect!
    Drink: Love your Bee Hive server!
    Sitting areas in shade: guests may want to linger so seating is a great idea.
    Well, I think you’ll have a fabulous tour! I was happy to read that your patio took three years to complete too.. Us as well! but well worth it don’t you think?
    Enjoy your blooms Jean and thanks so much for the visit to MJF Beach Farmgirl blog!
    Take care,
    Deb

    • Thanks so much for stopping by Deb… so special that you took the time. I equally enjoyed your post… which inspired me to mine! Love all that’s happening over at MJF… would love to blog for her as well! I’ll be happy with The Detroit News, The Good Life though 😉
      Thanks for the tips… I am looking forward to the day that I can have the real deal! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy having my get-together’s!
      Glad to know if wasn’t only us the patio as well.
      Have a great day and enjoy your garden’s as well.
      Best,
      Jean

  2. Nice work Jean. Thanks for sharing. I am doing something similar, but by myself. There is so much to learn and your blog is inspiring. The transformation, as you so clearly stated, is a process. Certainly one we both recognize as a worthy pursuit. Have a blessed day and good health to you.

    • Hi Steven… thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to send a note. Encouragement is always appreciated. So glad you enjoyed the post, and yes, gardens and the prep of having a party or an open house is for sure a ‘work’ of love…
      Best,
      Jean

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