Who doesn’t enjoy the thought of sitting out on a bright summer evening, a glass of wine in hand, while the birds sing and insects buzz?
But, it’s Britain, and we all know that as soon as the sun goes down, it’s going to get cold.
So what better way than to have real flames dancing through the twilight in a fashionable fire pit, towering log burner or blazing chiminea?
Settle in: Light an outdoor fire pit to keep the evening chill at bay and extend those garden days into garden nights
Smart log burners
Having a party and wanting to show off? A log burner, such as L’Bode Cube will leave all your guests impressed.
The burner is on castors so can be wheeled into place when the evening chill sets in.
It’s designed to be a focal point, with the burning wood surrounded by glass so you can watch the flames.
The heat-reflective base means the fuel burns at higher temperatures, meaning less smoke. Available from L’Bode for £1,350.
If it’s just you with a good novel, a little charcoal burner will do the trick. The Garden Trading round Lyneham fire bowl looks like a matt-black objet d’art.
Measuring 55cm across, made from clayfibre and coated steel, and weighing 10kg, it’s solid, but you can shift it around to find the best spot. Available from Selfridges for £220.
If you don’t want to mess about with solid fuel, a gas burner can be more reliable. Le Feu’s Ground Bio burner looks very 1960s-cool. It’s an egg-like fire pod on a tripod of oak legs and burns bio-ethanol.
Available in black, white, mocca or nickel, it’s portable, too. Priced from £1,699.
If you want a real blaze, and maybe to do a bit of cooking while you’re at it, the Atkin & Thyme Tempo gas chiminea with cooking griddle is the business.
Chic: The L’Bode Cube surrounds the burning wood with glass so you can watch the flames
It looks like an Aztec artefact, but is right up to date in functionality and the smoke is directed upwards and away from your guests.
Because it’s gas, the heat comes on instantly and you can turn it up as the air temperature drops.
The steel construction is designed to weather with time, so it becomes part of your setting. Available from Atkin and Thyme at the recently reduced price of £499.
Ivyline produces some of the best garden heaters. Its Outdoor Fornax Fireplace is one of their more affordable lines.
The chiminea-style solid fuel burner will sit discreetly in the corner wafting out heat while you and your friends look up at the stars.
The advantage of the chiminea design is that sparks are reduced and the smoke is whipped up above your heads rather than floating out to surround you. Available for £319.
Designer fire pit
Nordic design comes in the form of the Teamson Home gas fire pit.
A sleek box is topped with a glass chamber where the flames dance, even if it’s blowing a gale.
Available from Argos for £500. Includes gas regulator and 3m hose.
If you want something that’s a talking point as well as a functional item, you won’t get much better than the bird-and-leaf-design fire globe from La Hacienda.
The steel frame is cut so that it throws evocative silhouettes of birds flying between branches across your garden (and friends).
As the flames move, so do the silhouettes. Available from B&Q for £115, raincover recommended.
For a simpler approach, go for a wide saucer-like firebowl so that everyone can have their fun poking at the logs.
The Indian Firebowl Company’s Neela fire pits are hand-beaten from pieces of stainless steel — so every one is unique and no one else will have one quite like yours. Available from £206.
If you’re looking for luxury, you can buy a garden chair and table set where a wood burning plate is integrated into the table.
White Stores’s four-chair Cotswold line of padded chairs surround the decorative cast aluminium burner.
The burner table is 1.2m across with a wide ‘table’ rim so you can dine with the flames within reach.
It’s quite the alfresco experience. The cast aluminium looks superb and won’t rust left exposed to the elements.
Also handy is that the feet are adjustable, so you can wave goodbye to wobbly furniture. Available from White Stores for £1,699.
If you want to go even further up the scale, take a look at the Rattan Warehouse Richmond corner sofa set.
You and five friends can sprawl out on the rattan/aluminium furniture and when you get a bit chilly, turn on the propane gas fire pit integrated into the stylish cuboid coffee table.
You can keep chatting until the early hours.
Available from Rattan Warehouse, currently reduced from £3,099 to £1,899. It also comes with a footstool.