willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Summer Entertaining

The days are growing longer, Memorial Day weekend has passed and things are starting to heat up. Sure signs that enjoying the summer season in the great outdoors is about to become a constant. Now if it would only stop raining… The positive about all this spring rain is that that outdoor environment is bursting at the seams with new green growth and an abundance of flowers. Taking entertaining to the great green carpet under the sky, is a favorite thing of ours during these upcoming warm summer months. When we moved into Willowbrook, ten years ago this summer, there was this fabulous pool that had been put in by the previous owners. They did a wonderful job in keeping with the European aesthetic of the farm in that they  had put in a simple rectangular pool surrounded by grass with a thin 12″ flagstone coping. The only caveat was that it was at least two football fields from the house and it sat in the middle of a field. For our first two summers here, we had many a pool cookout around that pretty rectangular pool while taking half a day’s time getting everything out to the pool in coolers, wagons, wheeling the grill out, running back and forth to the house, for we always forgot half the stuff and then returning it all back to the house. We did it so often that after the second summer we decided to go for it and build an indoor-outdoor structure that could house all of the summer entertaining goodies, thus making it easier to cook out on a moments notice out by the pool. Our youngest was also five when we moved in, so swimming in that pool always required an adult to supervise and keep an eye out. That adult was tired of getting burnt to a crisp in the middle of the field.


In building the structure, we wanted something that looked like it sprung out of the ground next to the pool with a natural aesthetic. I also wanted it to feel like it had been here forever. After planting vines of wisteria, climbing roses, Clematis and honeysuckle seven years ago, it finally feels like that.


The vines are at long last beginning to creep across the top of the arbor so as to shield the diners underneath from the hot sun with a natural “roof.” I found an old rusty candelabra chandelier in an antique shop and had it wired to hang amongst the vines.

photo 2Outdoor entertaining and dining spaces can have their own sense of style and character if you think outside of the box. I love to use plant material to give buildings character.

IMG_9679Character abounds here, does it not?


This little stucco electric shed gets a new outfit in the summer months with bold colored vines. There is a hugely satisfying aspect in watching something that you plant from seed or a small pot, grow into a mature floral cover over the course of a few years.

IMG_9645The gifts that the outdoors gives is a surprise every season. What is going to come up this year? What does nature have in store for me in the way of design? What bountiful pickings will spring from the soil? All of which can be arranged into sweet displays that change with each summer month.

IMG_9666I have written about my love affair with the garden in some of my past posts and it is still going strong. I have always planted, be it in a small pot on an apartment deck, a small plot of a garden outside a condo patio door, or a more extended garden upon moving into our first house. Now I am surrounded by a veritable nature preserve. It did not just happen, actually none of it, our arrival here, or the plants that grow so abundantly. It is all intentional with a few surprises here and there.

IMG_9667There is no better background in which to celebrate the everyday than under the natural design and decor of the outdoors.

You can capitalize on what nature offers wherever you have set down your roots. There are a multitude of ways to do so, in whatever size of land you call your yard. Click on the link below to read my post from last year on my five tried and true tips for making your own summer gathering something memorable.

 Summer Entertaining Blog

Would love to hear how you celebrate all the gifts that summer brings! We can all add to the discussion!


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  1. Barbara Boyle says:

    your property looks beautiful, Meg. You’ve inspired me to get all those assorted vases out and go look on the property for wildflowers and vines(NOT the abundant poison ivy kind!) and fill the tables indoors and out with a variety of natural beauty. Best wishes. Barbara

    • Meg Veno says:

      Barbara, thank you so very much! You being an avid gardner as well, will most certainly hunt down some beauties and yes, stay away from that pesky poison! Christopher lives with an eternal case all summer long! A beautiful summer to you and remember…if you need anything we are just a stones throw away!! xx

  2. Trisha Flaherty says:

    absolutely beautiful! God bless you for many enjoyable summers by the pool!