Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review - An Invitation to the Garden

An Invitation to the Garden by Michael Devine, Rizzoli New York, 2014

Recently released by Rizzoli Publishing, An Invitation to the Garden is 192 pages of beautiful and easy to execute outdoor dining ideas.  I liked so many things about this book from the gorgeous decorating ideas to the simple meal plans, and especially the stunning full page, color photographs.

Author Michael Devine has an internationally recognized line of hand-printed fabrics and his textiles and gardens have been featured in many print and online magazines.  Who better than Mr. Devine to share the thrill of outdoor dining?  If you're intimidated by the thought of throwing an outdoors party, then this book will help you to conquer your fears.  And if you're an accomplished party thrower, I think you'll still find features of this book that you can incorporate into your next social gathering.  This book has been released just in time for your spring and summer gatherings!

An Invitation to the Garden starts off with a chapter where lilac is the star, front and center.  Michael introduces us to his garden prize - the bagatelle - which is a refurbished garden shed where he likes to entertain.  He stapled a pagoda fabric from his own collection to the walls and utilized lilac centerpieces.  He then coupled lilac with an Asian theme of porcelain monkeys and used dinnerware that featured monkeys and pagodas.  For a finishing touch he poured lilac infused water.  Doesn't that all sound heavenly?  Breathe deep because the scent of lilac is drifting in the air.

In the chapter on hosting a breakfast in the garden, Michael picked early June for his intimate party because of the profusion of roses as they exploded with color and fragrance.  He chose matching napkins and bud vases, accented with turquoise china and flea market finds.  As a finishing touch and a nod to his heritage, he used his great grandmothers silverware.   A simple yet elegant meal of eggs topped with rose petals, bacon and rhubarb muffins completed the setting.   The photographs of this exquisite table showing roses dripping with dew and bobbing gently in the breeze made me wish I were sitting there as well.

Also included are menu's tailored to each party with accompanying recipes.  Some prime examples are the salmon tart, lemon soda, chilled vegetables, savory mini muffins, gooseberry sauce, sea salt chocolate honey caramels, mushroom soup, and scrambled eggs with rose petals.  My personal favorite meal was the one presented in the chapter called Early Autumn Dinner.  How delicious does this sound.... 
  • tomato soup
  • puree of turnips, carrots and potatoes
  • roasted rosemary chicken au Jus
  • pumpkin cake roll
Let me tell you, the chicken looks crispy and succulent.  Oh, and the pumpkin roll..... well, the frosting looks creamy and the plump walnuts covering it had my mouth watering!

Scattered throughout the book are TIP boxes with wonderful garden and entertainment ideas such as
  • warmed hand towels heated with sage
  • dry rose petals for home made potpourri
  • ice cubes frozen with bachelor's buttons
  • grow potatoes in your garden by staking them
  • use fireplace ashes as repellant for slugs and snails
  • create topiaries using fresh vegetables
  • fill black garbage bags with leaves in the fall to create compost

An Invitation to the Garden makes outdoor entertaining a breeze and beautifully showcases colorful tablescapes and centerpieces, no fuss starters and easy to serve drink ideas.  It features settings and meals for a wide variety of occasions such as breakfasts, luncheons, drink parties, alfresco evening dinners and holidays.  You will learn some of the magic of incorporating fresh flowers, herbs and even butterflies into your decorating themes and how to create centerpieces in winter when garden blooms are sparse or non-existent.  Find out how to sprinkle your table with gorgeous color and textures.  It's possible to entertain with flair and yet keep your budget in check by utilizing affordable options like EBAY tables, Ikea chairs and slip covers made from linens.  The possibilities are easier than you'd think as the author shows how to take items from your garden to create a feast for the eyes as well as the palette.  It also introduced me to the delight of a bagatelle.  Well organized and inspiring, this book makes me want to attempt an outdoors party soon.  An Invitation to the Garden?  I accept!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.   Get your copy here

(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.  Photo's credited to Michael Devine with John Gruen.)


  1. Thanks for sharing this with us, so that we will know more about this book. Your review makes me want it to warm up around here and entertain. Beautiful!

    1. I'm just waiting for it to warm up to. All my snow is finally melted!

  2. This book would serve me well, since we are planning to entertain more this summer. I am starting to collect things when I see them on sale at Target, or TJ Max to use outside on the patio, and on the dock.
    Thank you for sharing about the book, Kim. It will be a huge help to me.

    1. Debbie - you will love his bagatelle. That is right up your alley. xo


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