fbpx
Orchard Dinner, Carmen Johnston Gardens, Photo by Hector Sanchez

Gatherings with friends and family are now an option again, thank goodness, and here’re my top six tips for creating summertime entertaining memories.

 

Orchard Dinner, Carmen Johnston Gardens, Photo by Hector Sanchez

Photo by Hector Sanchez

Create Summertime Entertaining Memories

How many brunches and dinners have you been dreaming up in the past year?!  I want to inspire your events, big and small, by helping you personalize your entertaining. We are so excited its 2021!

Last summer, at a socially distanced event, we invited family and friend pods over for an Orchard Dinner at our Johnston family farm pecan orchard in Thomaston, Georgia. The goal of the evening was to support local chefs and growers who were really struggling during the pandemic while helping our guests connect in a safe environment.

 

2020 Orchard Dinner, Carmen Johnston Gardens, Photo by Hector Sanchez

We collaborate with Epic Restaurant chef Jamie Keating on the delicious Orchard Garden dinner! (Photo by Hector Sanchez)

It was a really special evening and I’m sharing my top tips to make my parties, events and dinners memorable. These beautiful photos were captured by a friend from my Southern Living days, talented photographer Hector Sanchez.

1. Invitation – Paper invitations are still so special and you can find great choices at your local paper goods store.  I’d also suggest you check out my friend, Kat McCall Papers, to help you really honor a moment. She’s so talented! And, if all else fails, why not create something on Canva to email your friends.  No matter the format, I think a thoughtful invitation really makes the evening special from a family reunion or birth celebration to dinner for friends in your backyard.

2. Create A Special Table – Don’t let your family pieces languish in a china cabinet or linen closet. For the Orchard Dinner, I brought out my vintage linens, heirloom silver and Italian terra cotta. Weave together pieces which mean something, maybe even collected from a trip. And, don’t worry about being matchy matchy. A table set with special family mementos will mean so much more to your guests!

 

Orchard Dinner, Carmen Johnston Gardens, Photo by Hector Sanchez

 

3. Snip & Clip Your Center Piece – You know I have a lot of gardening philosophies and snip and click is one of my favorites for table centerpieces.  Head outdoors and gather greenery and seasonal blooms from your yard like hydrangea, iris or fresh herbs.  See what is flowering in your yard and use it.  You might want to supplement with flowers from your local vendor and consider using live plants or a small container garden.  Your guests will enjoy the flowers for the evening and you can enjoy for days after!  For the orchard dinner, I used multiple tables and made sure each had a unique theme so guests had fun exploring each one!

4. Personalize The Menu – Head to your local produce stand as you start to plan your menu.  I collaborated with my friend, chef Jamie Keating, owner of the four diamond, Triple AAA award-winning restaurant Epic, in Columbus, Georgia.  Jamie curated the menu combining seasonal pickings based on elements which mean something to our family and named the menu items to reflect our family and region’s history.  Take a look at the fun menu here!

 

Orchard Dinner Menu, Carmen Johnston Gardens, Photo by Hector Sanchez

 

 

Sliders, Orchard Dinner, Carmen Johnston Gardens, Photo by Hector Sanchez

Three sliders were named R.E.D. after the three individuals that bring ultimate joy to our hearts, our dogs, Rusti, Elle, and Dixie! Our dogs have such fun, individualistic personalities, we knew that our three sliders had to reflect this. (Photo by Hector Sanchez)

5. Curate A Playlist – Music brings such a special element to an evening. For bigger events, maybe check with the local symphony to see if a musician hires out for special evenings. These musicians could use your support! You can also check in with your neighborhood Facebook group to see if a young piano, guitar of fiddle player is available.  Or, create on your favorite streaming app a playlist of background music.  For our last summer’s event, I shared our playlist.  Or how about creating a DVD to take home.  Who remembers mix tapes?!

 

Gatherings with friends and family are now an option again, thank goodness, and here’re my top six tips for creating summertime entertaining memories.

 

6. Serci – Departing Gift – In addition to providing guests with my favorite music list, Jamie create a special serci for me, homemade pralines.  In addition to weaving into the evening meal, our guests had to have Johnston farm pecans and wow, this was a sweet treat!  We also had a basket of fresh produce on each table and included recipes for guests to take as well.

 

Johnston Farm Pralines, Carmen Johnston Gardens

 

Personalizing Entertaining Makes Memories

My main goal is to help you honor your family history and journey by weaving your experiences into your entertaining.  This will charm your guests and help you relieve those moments. It will also help you remember those special people in your life who’ve passed on those keepsakes.

The Orchard Dinner was pretty spectacular and took a lot of hands, energy and talent to create.  I want to know big and small ways you are creating special memories for your family and friends.  Head over to my Instagram where I’m sharing more of the Orchard Dinner.  Comment and inspire me and my followers!

 

Carmen Johnston, Orchard Dinner, Photo by Hector Sanchez

Coming Up Next – Kayak Giveaway

If you’ve been following along my 2021 HGTV Smart Home adventure, you’ll know I took the water in Naples with Ty Pennington!

 

Carmen Johnston, Ty Pennington, HGTV Smart Home Film Crew

 

Staring Tuesday, May 25 through June 1, I will be giving away a kayak in honor of that epic moment!  When you see my kayak social media post, check out details on entering for a chance to win!  Be sure and tune in on May 26 at 11 a.m. EDT and May 31 at 8 a.m. EDT for an encore of the HGTV Smart Home 2021 special.  It was SO much fun filming with rock star interior designer Tiffany Brooks and Ty!

Finally, through June 11, 5 p.m. EDT, you’ll be able to enter online for a chance to win the HGTV Smart Home 2021. The grand prize is worth over $1.1 million and includes the home and all furnishings, a 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet and $100,000 from LendingTree!

Country Living container, Carmen Johnston Gardens

There is nothing more welcoming for a guest than a pretty front door container and I’m thrilled I got to create this for the Country Living  June issue, now on stands!

Country Living Front Door Beauty!

My sweet friend Barbara Hale generously allowed us to use her stunning Columbus home’s front porch as the backdrop for the March photo shoot. My team and I were honored to work with nationally renowned photographer, Mali Azima, who has done it all from Veranda to the Wall Street Journal!

 

Country Living magazine shoot, Carmen Johnston Gardens

So honored to work with so many talented people on the Country Living magazine shoot!

 

When I first started collaborating with Country Living editors, I knew I wanted to create something using a container that would provide all summer long beauty which you could easily recreate.  A bonus was getting to share my favorite gardening items from hat to fertilizer!

 

Country Living magazine, Carmen Johnston Gardens, June 2021

Here’s my June story in Country Living but have you joined their Country Club?! Click here to see all the amazing all-access benefits. 

 

Front Porch Container Tips

Container gardening is a good solution for shade or sun areas.  Here are the tips for how I created this vignette.

 

Process:

  1. Think Outside The Pot!   I love to collect hand-woven, vintage baskets. It doesn’t have to be terra cotta or plastic.  Head to a flea market, antique shop and be on the look-out for something unique. Line it with heavy, duty trash bag.  Take those empty pots the plant came in, flip upside down within the basket to give you height.  Now get started.

 

  1. Stuff & Shove! Be sure you don’t scrimp on the soil.  Good soil is like good nutrients for your body. When you begin, I call this stuffing and shoving as I use larger planter material in the center adding height and then anchor the ends and soften the edges with plants which flow over. The brighter, the more colorful, the better!

 

  1. Step It Up! Containers don’t have to be on the ground. Elevate your vessel!  A lot of people think your container has to be on the ground when you water it.  You can find a vessel which has a built-in spot to capture and retain water without causing any damage.

 

Getting more gardening tips and inspo by checking out my appearance this week on Nashville’s Talk of the Town with my good friend, Meryll Rose, by clicking here. 

 

Creating A Container Garden, Country Living, Carmen Johnston Gardens

Front Door Challenge – Deadline – Noon EDT – May 21

Last week, I issued a front door challenge with a sweet reward coinciding with my June story in Country Living magazine!  My Instagram influencer friends Sarah Elizabeth Ray, Noell Jett, of Jett Set Farmhouse, and Sara McDaniel, of Simply Southern Cottage, helped get me started by sharing their gorgeous homes! I want you to create your own dreamy front entry and enter for a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize!  The second place winner will receive a FaceTime front door consultation with me and another $250 Home Depot gift card!

Once you’ve created your entry, post it to your Instagram and/or Facebook and tag me @CarmenJohnstonGardens, use #CJFrontDoorChallenge and tag the influencers and Country Living too!  You can also do this on your stories.  So many fun ways to spread the cheer!

On Friday, May 21 at 2:30 p.m. EDT, I’ll be live on Country Living’s Instagram sharing all my pro tips for front door beauty!  Immediately following on my Instagram, I’ll announce the winners of my Front Door Challenge!

Connect With Me!

Gardening and designing outdoor living spaces gives me so much inspiration but so does my friendships with you!   Please share your inspiration and questions via my social media at Instagram and Facebook. Summertime is calling and we have so many other fun adventures ahead and want you to join us!

 

Front Door Challenge, June 2021, Carmen Johnston Gardens

It’s time to get your front door summer ready and I’ve got a great challenge for you with a sweet reward coinciding with my June story in Country Living magazine!

Front Door Challenge – You Could Win!

Along with several of my influencer friends, Noell Jett, of Jett Set Farmhouse, Sarah Elizabeth Ray and Sara McDaniel, of Simply Southern Cottage,  we’ll be sharing with you through May 21 some front door inspiration.  I want you to create your own dreamy entry and enter for a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize!  The second place winner will receive a FaceTime front door consultation with me and another $250 Home Depot gift card!

Once you’ve created your entry, post it to your Instagram and/or Facebook page or stories and tag me @CarmenJohnstonGardens and use #CJFrontDoorChallenge. You can also tag Noell, Sarah and Sara as well as Country Living too!  So many fun ways to spread the cheer!

On May 21 at 2:30 p.m. EDT, I’ll be sharing the behind-the-scenes, DIY of the June Country Living gardening story on Country Living’s Instagram – be sure you follow them here.  Immediately after, I’ll announce our winners on live on my Instagram!

 

Front Door Challenge, Carmen Johnston Gardens

Country Living Tips

If you’ve seen my Instagram lives for Country Living, you know I love sharing some DIY magic!  In the June issue, I’ve got my sure-fire way to spruce up your porch for all summer long enjoyment.  You’ll also find a few of my favorite things for working in the sun and playing in the dirt!

The issue comes out May 11 so you’ll want to be sure you subscribe for year-long inspiration!  And, definitely check out the Country Living Country Club, introduced in December 2020 for all-access membership! Click here. 

And, they’ve just released the gorgeous June cover on social media with two of my favorites, Erin and Ben Napier, of HGTV’s Home Town!

 

Country Living, June 2021, Carmen Johnston Gardens

Don’t Miss TV Segments!

On May 13 at 11 a.m. CDT, if you live in the WTVF Talk of the Town viewing area, please tune in for great gardening tips with my talented friend Meryll Rose.  We are so honored to be working with her again! Click here to see my last segment with Meryll!

 

Carmen Johnston, WTVF Talk of the Town

Carmen Johnston with WTVF Talk of the Town host Meryll Rose. Tune in May 13 in the Nashville area when Carmen creates a great front door DIY for them on May 13.

 

 

And, on Friday, May 14, I’ll be with my good friend, garden guru Danny Watson with the awesome folks at Atlanta & Company weaving some front door charm for their smart anchor Christine Pullara at 11 a.m. EDT.

 

Carmen Johnston, Danny Watson, Carmen Johnston Gardens

Carmen and long-time friend and garden guru Danny Watson created some front door magic for Atlanta & Company anchor Christine Pullara which airs on May 14.

Connect With Me!

Friends, I gain so much inspiration from gardening and outdoor living but also from my friendships with you!  Please share your inspiration and questions via my social media at Instagram and Facebook. Summertime is calling and we have so many other fun adventures ahead and want you to join us!