As spring arrives with a riot of colour and fragrance to tantalise the senses, it inspires a natural desire to ditch weekends and evenings by the fireside and fill our social calendars with friends, family and fabulous functions. One event that never fails to get us into the swing of spring is the Nelmac Garden Marlborough Garden Party. This year’s event will be held at Wither Hills on Saturday 11th November and Bayleys Marlborough is once again proud to sponsor this fun-filled, festive evening.
If you can’t wait until November to enjoy the ultimate Marlborough garden party, then why not hold one of your own? To help you plan, we caught up with local design guru and Queen of Colour, Alex Fulton; and award-winning foodie and generous host at Arbour, Liz Buttimore.
Here are their top tips to help you throw the perfect outside soirée!
Style your Garden Party – Alex Fulton
The New Zealand Spring can always offer a variety of weather patterns on any given day. If the elements choose not to play ball, there’s nothing in the rule book to say you can’t have your garden party inside, but if you know you want to embrace the outdoors then plan to buy or borrow a pop-up gazebo, this can be decorated with pot plants and fairy lights; and draped with fabric and streamers.
If the weather gods are kind to you, the best way to bring the indoors outside at a garden party is as simple as literally bringing everything inside…outside! You don’t need different tableware, furniture or decorative features just for outdoor use, using indoor stuff can be fun and easy. There’s no need to fork out cash for decorating and design, dragging the kitchen table outside and setting it up as you would inside will cost only your time. Look at what you have around you and take your cues from those elements.
Bottoms will need accommodating, but spending money on cheap plastic chairs is harsh on the environment and your wallet, and they will likely end up in your garage collecting cobwebs. So, cut your costs by borrowing chairs from neighbours, friends and family. You’ll end up with a variety of shapes and sizes, so, if mix ‘n’ match isn’t your thing and you are after a more cohesive look then approach community groups like churches and schools. Offering a donation may very well secure the seating you need.
Theming your party is a fun way to direct your design style but having an open brief is okay too. If you simply want to inject some spring colour into your styling then bring out the pastel shades, these always give a nod to the new life and fresh optimism that the turn of this season brings. Team your pastels with natural greens and nature inspired colours such as terracotta and muted blues. This will help to ground the soft palette and bingo, you have an on-trend colour combo that is very Spring 2017.
Cater your Garden Party – Liz Buttimore
Spring is the perfect time to enjoy long table lunches, where people can linger at the table all afternoon. If you’re catering for a crowd don’t over complicate things with a large number of dishes. Pick a small, crowd pleasing menu with the focus on fresh, local produce.
Spring New Zealand lamb makes a wonderful main attraction. Depending on temperatures and the timing of your party the first asparagus may be available as well as early summer potatoes. Local strawberries start to appear at the beginning of spring, as do beautiful fresh peas. Black garlic, clams and mussels are regional specialties so choose some of those for your menu too. Spring garden parties tend to coincide with the new releases of local Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc wines; and, of course, it wouldn’t be a party without some Marlborough sparkling wine to toast the occasion.
If you’re catering for a large crowd at an informal or family event, a buffet is often the easiest way to serve your food. It is always nice to spend some time creating a beautiful table for the dishes, make sure you have back up food you can add during the meal so that everything always looks clean and appetising.
Prepare as much of your menu as you can in advance. Pickling vinegars, flavoured mayonnaises and infused butters can all be made prior to alleviate pressure on the day. Have a few tasks in mind for those close friends and family you know sincerely want to help. They will enjoy playing their part at the gathering and you will look like a cool, calm and collected garden party legend!
When you have a large gathering, oven space can be difficult to juggle, so this barbecue friendly lamb leg is our family’s go-to dish for feeding a crowd.
1 leg Lamb, boneless
- 2 sprigs Thyme
- 20 leaves Rosemary
- Zest and Juice of one Lemon
- 4 cloves Garlic, peeled
- 50 mls Olive Oil
- 10 grams Smoked Paprika
- 15 grams Salt
- 10 grams Pepper
- 10 grams Cumin
Make a paste from the ingredients, no need to be too fussy over measurements. Massage the paste into the lamb and sit overnight. Grill over a medium heat on the barbecue to an internal temperature of 55 degrees C (timing will vary depending on size). Then allow to rest under tinfoil in a warm area for about half an hour. Slice against the grain for the most tender eating.
- For more information on Nelmac Garden Marlborough 2017 visit this website.
- For interior design inspiration visit alexfultondesign.com.
- Enjoy Liz Buttimore’s hospitality at arbour.co.nz.