Planning the Perfect Summer Garden Party

Under threat of rain and thunderstorms, the LEAF Team got creative and pulled off our garden party, an annual celebration of those who have contributed their time and energy towards enhancing our urban forest! We had to make a few modifications due to the weather, which reminded us of how much we’ve learned about outdoor party planning these past few years.













Guests, staff and our wonderful musicians found these sayings very punny!


It was great to see so many familiar faces joining us at Wychwood Barns last week. We celebrated with delicious snacks from local businesses and hand crafted mock-tails, as well as music and prize giveaways! Guests saw everything once it was all set up and polished, but there was a lot going on behind the scenes! We’ve learned a lot about party planning over the years, and since the summer is always full of reasons to celebrate, whether it’s a wedding, birthday or baby shower, we thought we’d share some tips on how to host the perfect summer garden party.










We decorated the natural focal point, the outdoor hearth, with flowers and a welcome sign.


Start by making sure your garden is in tip-top shape. You want to have neatly pruned trees and shrubs, but you should try to prune between December and March. During spring and summer, wildlife babies might be nesting within the branches and you don’t want to disrupt their nests. If you have grass, make sure to give it a fresh cut, but take a quick walk around your yard first, to make sure there are no rabbits’ nests. They dig a little nest in the grass and lightly cover it with grass and leaves, so sometimes they can be hard to spot! If your yard consists of mulch and low-lying native shrubs, that’s even better, as there’s only basic maintenance required prior to your garden party!













Planting shrubs and laying a mulch path adds texture to your garden and adds potential habitat and food for wildlife.

Once the natural beauty is at its peak, you can start to enhance it with decorations. If your garden only takes up a portion of your yard and you have a deck or patio, decorations are key to creating an intimate atmosphere. Include banners with themed colors, chalkboard signs or picnic blankets! To keep your trees healthy, refrain from nailing anything to them, as this can cause lasting damage. Instead, put up a temporary post or hang decorations off of your fence. If you prefer to tie things around your trees, make sure to remove the ties after the party. Restraints can choke young trees if left on, as the trunks keep growing.








Our decorations in 2017 simply had to compliment the lush vegetation in our garden.









This year, due to a stormy forecast, we did our best to liven up our all-weather industrial space.


Of course you want to provide cool drinks for your guests during the hot summer months. Place your drinks and snacks under the shade of a tree if you have one. If you don’t want to have to run to the kitchen too much during the party, try to find snacks that don’t require refrigeration. Avoid anything with dairy or meat, especially if it’s a hot day, and opt for veggie sandwiches or fruit instead. Of course, if you have an edible shrub in your garden, and you’ve timed your party for when it’s producing berries, that’s even better. This way your garden is not only a source of beauty, but also of nourishment and fun!








Keep your refreshments cool under a shady tree, and pick snacks that don’t require refrigeration.

If this sounds more like a dream than a real possibility, consider beginning to cultivate your ideal garden this year, so that you can host the perfect garden party next year! Choose shrubs and trees that create privacy and provide shade, while inviting butterflies, other pollinators, and songbirds to join the party. If you’d like more information on how to make your garden a safe and enjoyable space for yourself and local wildlife, check out our #BackyardBiodiversity campaign with Toronto Wildlife Centre. Visit our website or join the conversation on twitter, instagram or facebook by using #BackyardBiodiversity.


Rachel Marcus is the Marketing and Education Assistant at LEAF.

Photos by Torie Gervais, Michael Tenaglia, Alan Li and Rachel Marcus.