Pink Fire Pointer "Summer afternoon, summer afternoon..."

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon..."

A dreamy retreat in dappled sunlight, perfect for sitting over cocktails and appetizers

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."  --  Henry James

Garden Tours are filled with such great inspiration.  The gardens are naturally the focus.  We learn so much from the talented gardeners who have planted and nurtured all those flowers and plants.  But we also get to see the garden retreats, the beautiful outdoor spaces that the homeowners have created in order to enjoy the summer season.  This is where they can sit with a glass of lemonade, read a good book, and daydream.  Here are a few gorgeous outdoor rooms I have seen on recent garden tours.  They have me thinking about Henry James' famous quote about summer. I could see myself enjoying a lovely summer afternoon or evening in any of these enchanting spaces...

This is a true outdoor room, cozy and functional with its couches, coffee table and fireplace.  A place to go after dinner on a warm night, to play scrabble and eat ice cream.  That fireplace would have to be lit!  S'mores anyone?

This space has such a romantic and peaceful feel with its striped awning and mounds of greenery.  I would love to see it on a warm night with the candles lit, music playing and maybe some impromptu dancing! 

Can't you just picture the girls from an Edith Wharton novel here, dressed in their white muslin dresses with their heads together gossiping and sipping iced tea while the men play tennis?

This enclave of red roses beckons us after a swim to sit and have a grilled lunch or dinner

 Four friends could play Bridge in this elegant nook, accompanied by mint juleps 

This rustic enclosure would make a great spot for a country breakfast

And this cozy porch makes me want to sit and visit with the neighbors

I have also been spotting some beautiful outdoor table settings --

This one calls out for a garden party

Sunday lunch in the garden would be perfect here

This table in a garden room is special enough for a midsummer wedding celebration  

 And this was the setting for a very special birthday party featuring the first peonies of the season

These tables are bursting with summer goodness.  There are so many possibilities for enjoying the outdoors.   Here's to a great summer of garden parties, picnics, enjoying the view, visiting with friends and eating delicious meals in whatever retreat you've created for yourself -- whether it's a simple chair under a tree or a dining table on your patio.

  The most important thing is to relax and celebrate the best that nature has to offer.  Flowers make us feel better and a garden soothes our spirits.  Be sure to enjoy those summer afternoons!

All photos by Sunday Taylor