A Garden Party in Holland

Seth and Ann Marie

Garden parties are the very best reason to lovely-up your yard. Why have people over and sit around your dining room table? You can do that in the wintertime! A garden is a feast for the eyes.

We just got back from a 3-week business/pleasure trip to New York and Holland. While I was away, I was thinking about what I'm going to do in my garden come June.

Holland Garden Party

Our last night in Holland was spent our dear friends, George and Carla, at their home in Hilversum (a suburb of Amsterdam). They invited us over for a backyard barbecue. The weather was perfect and the conversation was invigorating. We laughed a lot, ate very well, and drank plenty of wine.

And we enjoyed Carla's beautiful garden.

The Food

Garden Party Hors d'œuvres 3

Salami, French cheese, bread warm from the oven, crisp red bell peppers, smoked mackerel, garlicky green olives, crunchy radishes, and crispy white wine.

Wonderful Brown Bread

Gorgeous brown bread. I wish we could get bread like this in America!


And lots of butter for the bread.

And these are just the hors d'œuvres, mind you. We hadn't even started the barbecue grill yet!

George BBQing Bacon

Here's George barbecuing bacon. I have no idea what kind of bacon this is (I'll have to email and ask) but it was seriously the best bacon I've ever had.

Indonesian Garnish for BBQ

They served the barbecued meat with this Indonesian garnish. There is a lot of delicious Indonesian food in the Netherlands.

The Conversation

You don't really expect me to remember what we talked about, do you? I had umpteen glasses of sauvignon blanc.

I do remember a lot of talk about politics, and oh yes, we talked about Sinter Claus, the Dutch Santa Claus. Apparently their are two Santas in the Netherlands. One comes on December 5th and the other one comes on December 25th. The first Sinter Claus who comes on December 5th has black elves — they are black from the soot on their faces from coming down the chimney.

Carla and Her Brother

Carla's brother stopped by for a glass of wine or two.


I love how, in the Netherlands, if you want to visit someone for a drink, you don't have to get in a car — you can just ride your bike. No worries if you've had too much wine.

The Garden

Beautiful Carla

Carla's garden inspired me. It was proof that you don't need a big yard to create a truly beautiful garden.


The garden was a cozy outdoor sanctuary. It was full of color and light. The grass was soft under my bare feet.


Cherries not yet ripe enough to eat.


I love all the little touches, like this goose (or is it a duck)? The splashes of green against the red brick.

Seth in the Garden

I kept slipping away from the table to take more photos. The light kept changing and I captured the best moments.


Carla's roses on the trellis in the side yard.

Front Yard

And the front yard — isn't it stunning?

Hilversum Cat

And this is their happy cat.

Share Your Comments Below

What are your garden plans on this Memorial Day weekend? I am planning to get out and do a little gardening, and then we'll barbecue.

If you don't have any plans today, are you planning a garden this year? What are you going to plant?

Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in the Sowing Millions Project by Real Food Media on behalf of Seeds of Change. I received product and exclusive content to facilitate my post. My thoughts and opinions are my own and not of those of Real Food Media or Seeds of Change.
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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

25 thoughts on “A Garden Party in Holland

  1. What a wonderful post. I’m glad you had a great trip!
    This brings back memories for me. The more I get involved in healthy living the more I miss the lifestyle from Europe. I miss how I could ride my bike to visit friends or go shopping, and how much I enjoyed all the food and small markets with fresh food..

  2. Our tree peony here in Minneapolis is in full bloom this Memorial Day weekend, so I’m distributing the soccer-ball sized blossoms to friends and neighbors. They are stunningly beautiful, and when the short-lived blooms fade, the gorgeous foliage on woody stems looks great all summer. It’s a very hardy variety of Japanese tree peony (not a regular peony, mind you) called “Kamatanishiki”, which we got mail order from the Dutch bulb company van Bourgondien (https://www.dutchbulbs.com/store/peonies/11994). I highly recommend it if you’re in zone 3-9 and want something spectacular to take your breath away each spring.

    Ha ha, I don’t work for them, I’m just a happy customer and big fan!
    Happy gardening.

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures of such a lovely and sweet memory with us. It reminds me of a trip to London my husband and I took many years ago–the same type of small yards (“gardens”) that they really made the most of by creating beautiful little flowery havens. This took me back.

  4. We also have a dear Amsterdammer friend who lives on a “houseboat” outside of the city proper. He wakes up to cows grazing across the canal from his deck and has a beautiful garden on the land in the front of the “boat” (which is really a house floating on the canal). Holland is one place outside the USA that I could easily call home.

  5. Brown European bread is possibly one of the best things in the world, even moreso with a good cheese!

  6. I was lucky to find your blog and signed up for email. Would love to be able to make ice cream or frozen yogurt with natural sweeteners!

      1. Ha ha, we got the same shocked response from a butcher in Argentina recently when we asked if the cows had been grass-fed. πŸ™‚ And then a mystified shaking of the head when we explained how it’s usually done in the U.S. these days.

  7. What beautiful pictures. I would love a lovely backyard. I live in the desert southwest and grass does not belong down here. Luckily though I know quite a bit about native plants and we do have plenty of pretty green plants with flowers to liven up a backyard. We love eating dinner outside and take advantage of the great weather we have here.

  8. Was that dish of butter for EVERYONE to share??? LOL…I get lovingly teased all the time for my obsession with butter (real butter). I usually put about half of that for one piece of bread, so two to three slice of bread and that butter would be ALL GONE! Would you like some bread with that butter? LOL Yum yum! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  9. Oh. my. goodness. One look at that bread and I almost fell completely off the GAPS bandwagon. I’ve rarely had craving since starting a few months ago, but that photo hit me where it hurts! Going to go find something to smear butter on now . . .

    1. LOL! Yes, I’m still thinking about that bread. I am going to learn how to make rye sourdough bread now — I have to have it!

      I’m very encouraged that I could go off my diet and eat bread and chocolate for 3 weeks and only gain one pound. I’m confident now that I can keep the weight off, even after I add back in bread and dairy.

  10. It is inspiring to see that someone can make a small space like that so beautiful… I love your pictures and am glad you had such a great time, I would love to visit the Netherlands some day, my late grandparents grew up there before they immigrated to Canada, then to the US.

  11. Great pics! Brought back wonderful memories of my trip three years ago to visit my dear friend who lives in Ystad, on the southern coast of Sweden. I love the simplicity of the European lifestyle. Thanks Ann Marie for sharing!

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