Last week I went to a garden party to celebrate my friend, Kathryn, on her 60th birthday. Since it was a decade birthday, another friend, Pauline, hosted a luncheon.
Pauline lives in a converted warehouse in Oakland, and old train tracks go through her brick-walled, industrial back yard. She’s spent the last two years creating an gorgeous garden in the space, filled with hidden treasures and quirky details. Getting to spend time there always feels like a gift.
I took a bunch of photos — of the garden, and of the party — so I could share them with you. I think my favorite part was the group gift. You’ll totally want to copy it.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived were the tables, covered in vintage linens, with pretty umbrellas for shade.
Gorgeous cherries and apricots ran down the center of the tables. They were the hors d’oeuvres, and they were irresistible. Perfectly ripe and sweet. Pauline set a few small dishes out for pits too. (You know I love those thoughtful details.)
Guests always dine with old school mis-matched silver at Pauline’s. In fact, if you go to her house she’ll make you try ice cream with a silver spoon and a regular spoon so you can see for yourself how much more pleasurable it is with a silver spoon. (Try it if you get the chance!)
Everywhere you look in the garden there’s something to discover. A new texture, another plant, a funny detail.
For example, semi-hidden behind one big pot, there’s a plate with Brigham Young’s face on it. Hah!
Hanging out among the cherries and apricots, guests found scented floral Tattly’s they could apply. So pretty.
Oh, and the group gift!
It’s such a great idea. Each guest was asked to bring a flower — a stem in the 12-18 inch range — that reminded them of Kathryn. As the guests arrived, we added our stems to one big arrangement. It was beautiful. Really, really stunning.
Fun fact: though we as guests didn’t coordinate, turns out there were no repeats.
After we finished eating, we all took turns pointing out the flowers we’d added to the bouqet, and shared something we love about the birthday girl. We laughed because for several of us, the flower we chose was simply whatever was available in our yard. : )
My own yard is very shady and we don’t have many flowers, but in the one sunny spot, we have gorgeous bougainvillea in hot pink and coral. Happily, the bougainvillea is in bloom right now! So that’s what I brought to add to the bouquet.
At the end of the party, Kathryn could take home the big beautiful arrangement. Isn’t that the best group gift idea?
How about you? Have you been to any good gatherings lately? Birthday parties? Baby showers? Was there a fun theme? A smart gift? A memorable game? I’d love to hear.