Sunflowers and Eryngium - Photo Courtesy Carol Caggiano, AIFD, PFCIEntertaining is one of my favorite past times. I love having guests over, and there is just something special about inviting them in the summertime. Summer entertaining can be relaxing and casual, really leaving time for conversation and “catching up” on all of our busy lives. Cooking on the grill and eating outdoors is perfect for a memorable summer afternoon or evening.

Flowers are important to me and I use them to welcome my summertime guests just as I do throughout the rest of the year. However, in summer I can often combine the seasonal blooms I purchase from my local florist with accents from my garden.

Just this week, I picked up some petite sunflowers and eryngium (blue thistle) to create a centerpiece for the dinner I was preparing to have on my porch with my neighbors. I added fresh mint from my garden.

Not only did it look great, its fragrance was spectacular and combined perfectly with the aroma of steak and veggies. Rosemary is another garden favorite that combines well with seasonal blooms and also lends not only texture but a very nice scent to the bouquet as well.

Protea And Foliages — Photo Courtesy Carol Caggiano, AIFD, PFCIFoliages are back in trend, and summer is the best time to venture out and discover what is in your backyard. Hosta leaves are absolutely wonderful, and if I can get them before the deer eat them, they make a fabulous base for almost any summer bloom or even just by themselves in glass bottles. Here I chose some spectacular pincushion protea from my florist and added hosta and a few ferns from the edge of the woods nearby. You don’t need a lot to create something special. Coordinating with my tabletop is fun and encourages me to dig into the back of my cabinets to find fun dishes tucked away.

Look for interesting containers to hold your summer arrangements. They can range from lovely ceramics to pails to glass bottles. Anything goes. I collect containers when I travel. A pretty glass vase cannot only be a memento from a great trip or vacation, but it can be the perfect vessel for a bouquet at any given time.

Guestroom-— Photo Courtesy Carol Caggiano, AIFD, PFCIOne of my “absolutes” for overnight guests is to have flowers in their room and bathroom. Even if they are just staying for one night, I think they truly feel welcome when they see flowers in their home away from home. It doesn’t have to be a big bouquet or anything opulent, and most of the time something smaller is more appreciated. A bedside table is the perfect place for a small bouquet. In this one, fabulous yellow lilies are combined with some mauve mini callas and a few hosta leaves. As the flowers will easily last a week or more, this bouquet would be perfect for a guest that might be staying a little while.

Whether you choose a large collection or just a bloom or two, flowers to welcome your guests are not only appreciated but really add to your guests’ preparations. I know I am ready for company when the flowers are in place…perfect!

How do you pamper your guests?