I'm hosting a major garden party this weekend (for my own birthday) and I have been busy for weeks preparing the 'grounds' for the event. My garden is particularly large and it takes a while to get it in shape, but I have, in my preparations, come up with a few time savers and problem solvers that might help you get your garden ready for visitors.
1) Don't try to do all the weeding at once. I work from home and my cell phone is my lifeline. No one (except us) needs to know that while I am discussing this that and whatever, I am also pulling weeds. Every little bit helps...and constant attention will help you achieve the greater goal. Jenny Peterson (a fellow garden designer) suggests something similar: when you get home from work and pour yourself a glass of wine, carry the wine with you while you weed (or do the garden chore you hate the most). Do the job for as long as it takes you to enjoy your drink. Either way, make it fun and multitask.
2) When working to a deadline, adopt some weeds. Weeds are really just misunderstood plants. I haven't the time to pull all the weeds, nor do I have the budget to fill in the gaps that they are currently covering. So I have edited the weeds in some areas to allow the prettiest (IMO) to remain until a later date when I can get rid of them and I can deal with the remnants. I'm counting on most people not knowing what is what.
3) Pull things together quickly with simple pots. My garden is — as is every garden — a work in progress. It is a fact that I will never feel it is just right, so to make myself feel a bit better about the fact that I haven't got all the color combos just as I want them and that there are holes and other questionable elements, I have filled every container I have with red geraniums and pomegranate punch million bells. The bright red blooms lead people's eyes around the garden to where I want them and not to where I don't.
4) If you have an hour — do a little painting. I am attacking the front door and the shed door. They won't take me too long, and I know that I will be so happy to have this fresh new look for the party. (My doors are currently orange and they will be mossy green by day's end... I'm sharing a before and after over on studio 'g' if you are interested.)
5) Use holiday lights whereever you can. If the party is going into the evening, twinkle lights will set a celebratory mood where any garden indiscretion will surely go unnoticed.
I'm on a mad dash between now and Saturday. If anyone else has some good garden party tips, I'd love to hear them!