photos by TJ Getz

Tailgating seems to be the preferred method for dining al fresco during the fall, likely because it’s ready-made fun. The people are there., lawn chairs are at the ready, and the color scheme relies only on the home team. Why abandon your outdoor entertaining skills at the parking lot? There are ample alternatives, and none of them require being relegated to the kitchen.

Outdoor entertaining does mandate you pick a location. Consider shady spots for midday gatherings and ambient lighting for after-hours affairs. Once you settle on a spot, don’t forget to add a touch of nature’s beauty to your table. Here, an open-air pavilion styled with the expertise of Frank Ogleetree of The Embassy Flowers and Nature’s Gifts (and a collection of his essentials) creates a perfect outdoor dining scenario. Bright florals and serving-ware complement one another without feeling too formal thanks to a mixture of earthy implements and accents. A neutral linen table cloth on a simple picnic table; a wooden cutting board for displaying servings of sliced artisan bread; and a log house-style pine basket for containing colorful blooms.

Food, friends, flowers: What more could you need?


  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnias
  • Blue thistle flower
  • Butterfly milkweed
  • Native grasses
  • Pine branches
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Crowder peas
  • Pokeberry
  • Purple Millet
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • A variety of peppers
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