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Intimate Dinners

Making the most of a romantic setting

Ever since the days of Romeo and Juliet, balconies have been witness to some pretty romantic goings-on. Don't let yours be left out of the loop! Invite your dream date or significant other over for an unforgettable evening in your urban Zen zone.

Start with the basics: a tiny table for two cozily ensconced in the middle of feathery fronds or trailing vines. Fragrant bloomers will suffuse the air with their heady scent. A few flickering votives and a simple bowl of spontaneously arranged flowers speak volumes. Fabric slipcovers and pillows can make even the shabbiest outdoor furniture look eminently respectable. If there's room on the balcony, clear a little space for some after-dinner dancing.

Impress your special guest with a seasonal menu -- all the better if the vegetables are fresh-picked from your garden! If you love to cook, plan and prepare dinner in advance so your attention isn't distracted by the oven timer beeping at a key moment. Or consider having dinner catered by a local gourmet-food store. After all, your green thumb has been working overtime to get those plants growing; you deserve to have the night off!

All set? Take a deep breath. When the doorbell rings, just turn on the music ... and let your garden do the rest.