There is still time for a tea time gardening party!
Plan this tea party for a warm month when the garden is ready for a big round of planting, weeding, pruning, or harvesting. Make sure that there will be a reward for your tea garden party guests to take home in appreciation of their hard work, in the form of a treat from the garden or some homemade cookies or preserves.
Invitations to your tea and garden party can be store-bought, handmade, or printed on your computer, as long as they are flowery and bright. Ask guests to wear their best wide-brimmed sun hats, comfortable shoes, and sturdy gloves. Avoid the hottest hours of the day by asking them to arrive after three o’clock.
For your tea and garden party: Set up a long table with pitchers of iced tea, glasses, and any tools they will need, such as clippers, trowels, stakes and ties. Pile a decorative tray with damp tea towels for wiping hands and brows, and don’t forget to offer sunscreen and hand lotion. Let your gardening tasks inspire the decorations:
For a weeding session, fill a glass with water and samples of the weeds you want them to remove. If it’s hard to tell the weeds from the plants you want to keep, fill a second glass with samples of the good plants they should leave intact. Make hand-lettered signs saying, “Weeds” and “Please Don’t Pull Me—I’m a Carrot” to label your samples.
For a pruning session, stand a typical branch in a tall vase and clip off a example of what needs to be pruned. Tie a colorful ribbon around the piece you cut off and lay it next to the branch. Tie a matching ribbon around the branch to mark the place you removed the piece from.
If your guests will be planting, pile seed packages or bulbs in pottery bowls or woven baskets lined with cloth napkins. Provide wooden spoons or silver serving spoons from the kitchen, if you’re short of garden tools to dig in soft soil.
If it’s harvest time, arrange two plates with samples of your crop. One plate will have samples that are ripe and ready to be picked, and the other will hold samples of fruits or vegetables too young, small or otherwise not right for picking.
In another part of the garden, or on a shady porch, set up chairs for resting, and a table laid with pastel linen and your best tea things. Bring out a portable CD player so your guests can enjoy traditional Irish and English folk music while they garden.
When it’s time to eat, call the guests over to relax and enjoy a light menu of:
- More iced tea
- Sparkling water and fresh mint leaves to add to iced tea
- Two flavors of hot tea: one flowery, like Earl Grey, and one fruity, like blackberry caffeine-free tea.
- Tomato and cheese sandwiches on homemade bread
- Celery sticks with yogurt-and-dill dip
- Carrot cake
- Seasonal fruit
- Cookies decorated with pink, white and yellow icing and sprinkles