I grew up in suburban Dublin in the 1970s and '80s, in a place where most people had gardens that were generally obscured by net curtains or Venetian blinds.
The garden was separate from the house, a place of grass and washing lines, sheds for equipment and vegetable patches. The lawn was, in effect, a wall-to-wall carpet.
Save for the odd summer picnic, nobody ate or drank outside, never mind entertained. Nobody of the hoi polloi, anyway.
All gradually changed through the influence of television. In Southfork, Miss Ellie served breakfast by the pool. And later, on Ramsay Street, Kylie and Jason lit the barbie.
We began to travel and see how others lived outdoors. And we brought a little bit of the alfresco lifestyle home with us.
During lockdown, our gardens have become more precious than ever.
Soon we'll be allowed to have people over again. And we've been dreaming up ways of enhancing our outdoor spaces.
Gardens aren't just about what you look at. They're areas of theatre, they're about our interaction with nature and they're places to gather. They have a wonderful energy about them.
If you invite people to your garden, you are inviting them to explore that magic. If you plan carefully, you will create enjoyable experiences and memories in your own great outdoors.
Maybe it's just friends coming round for a pizza, but always create a sense of occasion. Make the place look great.
Bring out the twinkly lights, use candles in jam jars hung with twine from trees, arrange garden flowers in vases or even old tin cans, take your indoor furniture outside and use vibrant colours everywhere.
Here's my tips for planning the ultimate garden party.
No party should ever be without music. Background music helps guests to relax (or find their groove) and sets the tone for the event.
Wireless technology allows us to install speakers throughout our gardens which hook up to a smartphone or Bluetooth device. And you can even source speakers which look like stones, blending into the foliage while setting the mood.
Of course, you should always have consideration for neighbours when playing music.
Lighting of any style enhances our enjoyment of gardens. As the sun sets we can highlight areas of interest or beauty and leave the untidy bits in the shadows.
But when entertaining, it's wonderful to uses outdoor lights to set the scene and add to the drama.
From a practical standpoint, if guests are walking through your plot after dark, make sure to light access routes. If you're planning a gentle get-together, why not brighten up the gathering area by using some of your Christmas lights? A set of twinkling white lights always looks great draped over trees or shrubs.
An old chandelier crystal adapted for outdoor use looks wonderful hanging from a tree over a formal dinner table.
And tea-light candles placed in jam jars among the foliage creates a warm, magical touch.
If you're serious about garden entertainment and often invite people round for food or drinks, it can mean constant journeys to and from the house.
We created a covered veranda at the back of our home and from May to late September we entertain there rather than inside. It means we're always prepared, with seating, tables, heaters and even a stock of plates and glasses.
But if you like entertaining outdoors you could do worse than prepare by creating an outdoor kitchen. Salvage yards and reclamation shops may have all the building equipment you need to create brick cupboards, outdoor sinks and slabs of granite or slate for food preparation.
Evening scent in a garden is a wonderful thing. Some plants which require pollinating by night have been adapted by flying insects to smell stronger after dark. Plan a route through the garden to your gathering spot using perfumed species.
A Star Jasmine could welcome visitors at the back door, perfuming the air in summer while cladding your home with its evergreen foliage.
Nicotiana is a dramatic looking flowering tobacco plant which can be grouped en-route through the garden to your final destination.
The South American native is an upright grower with unusual large, oval leaves. Tubular flowers open after dark and on cloudy days, and are especially fragrant at night.
Plant the wonderful Lily Casablanca in pots around your terrace, deck or patio to produce its luminous white architectural flowers and sweet evening aroma. This Asian lily will bloom in August and September.
In my plot, I have chairs everywhere. They set the scene and, even when not in use, they convey a message of rest.
Our most popular seating is the American Adirondack-style chair, immediately recognisable from movies and magazines. I spent some time in Venice Beach, California and saw them everywhere. I photographed them and asked a carpenter to make me a version, and we love them.
But you may like something more traditional in teak, or a relaxed woven outdoor three-piece suite.
All garden furniture can be accessorised with different cushions and covers, made using various water-resistant fabrics.
Garden beanbags have become a thing and are very popular with youngsters who watch Love Island! They can set a party vibe and can be used to enhance a layout, along with offering alternative seating ideas.
And now there are even outdoor rugs available to soften the terrace, patio or even to create a statement on your lawn.
If possible, separate adults from kids so that both groups feel free to enjoy themselves.
However, make sure the kids' area is within sight. That said, it needs to be at enough of a distance that noise is reduced and constant interruption is discouraged. A trampoline is usually a winner with youngsters, as are swings and climbing frames.
And kids of every age love roasting marshmallows over a blazing fire bowl.
Be careful if you have ponds, pools, hot tubs or other open water sources in the garden. Water is especially dangerous for young children who have a tendency to wander off and explore. Fence off any hazards before your guests arrive.
If your outdoor space isn't quite big enough for a climbing frame or swing set, don't worry, hours of fun can be had by introducing some fun party games.
Sets of skittles, boules, towers of Jenga and even giant versions of Connect Four encourage people to mix and can create hours of enjoyment.
They can be played on lawns or terraces and since they're all small, they are easily stored away in the shed and will be out of sight when the fun is over.
A barbecue is a relaxed, fun and relatively easy way of creating and enjoying a garden event. However, ensure that it's not a haphazard event where guests wait too long to get fed.
If you're using charcoal, light the barbecue soon after the guests arrive. It can take between a half-hour and 45 minutes for the flames to die down, which is when you can begin cooking.
Don't try to cook too many different elements. Keep it to one or two simple dishes. And plan ahead. All the salads, sauces, relishes, bread and desserts should be finished before the first guest steps in the garden.
Don't rush the meat. Once cooked, leave the burgers, chicken or sausages to sit for at least five minutes before slicing or serving.
Always offer a vegetarian option. And try to include some elements from your garden, such as herbs in cocktails or homegrown rosemary on the lamb.
If you plan carefully, your guests will eat before they get hangry, you'll enjoy yourself and everyone will feel they've had a lovely outdoor experience.
If you're at the earliest stage of creating a garden and you're a social being, plan your areas that will be dedicated to entertaining.
Think about creating a pleasing atmosphere which invites guests to relax and linger.
Ensure that your space for entertainment is flexible, as sometimes you'll use it to eat pizza and have a beer while on other occasions it may be for a celebration - a holy communion or birthday gathering when more people are about.
So plan for comfort and flexibility, but don't make the gathering areas too big.
Start by sizing the area for everyday family use, then allow some space for another couple or family grouping. If your family is small, avoid the expense of a large patio.
If you have a large home, the garden will feel more comfortable if you break it up into smaller seating areas.
Your lawn will create the perfect overflow space for entertaining larger groups. Lay out some tables and chairs, set them on the grass and serve food buffet-style for a relaxed and stylish garden party.
Make your space comfortable for your guests. If the location is exposed to wind, use tall plants to offer some shelter.
Evergreen trees and shrubs will create year-round windbreak and the sense of being tucked away.
Place your gathering area in a part of your plot which enjoys a view or a special atmosphere. This may be a little bit away from the house but the journey to it can enhance the experience - it creates a sense of 'getting away from it all'.
If you're in rural Ireland, your garden may have a high point or a place where you can see views in a few directions. That's the spot to create a terrace with seating, a fire bowl and maybe a pizza oven.