We spoke with gardening enthusiasts, entertaining experts and central Ohio's best builders for our summer issue.

Summer. It's Mother Nature's pat on the back, the time for being lazy on the patio, firing up the grill and soaking in long days and warm nights. And, if you've planned well this spring, it's time to begin reaping what you've sown. From the first crop from a produce plot to the lush blooms of a rose garden, summer is when the work pays off. Welcome-and enjoy.

We spoke with several gardening enthusiasts for this issue, including the orchid experts at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the friendly faces at deMonye's Greenhouse. I hope you'll find their tips and tricks helpful this season.

In "Anatomy of an Outdoor Space," two families share how they made their outdoor living spaces work for myriad needs, from entertaining to straight-up R&R. I can say without fear of exaggeration that the Schlessel family's koi pond is truly spectacular.

You'll also find our annual roundup of home-building trends, and I think you'll be surprised by some Central Ohio builders' biggest requests. (Hint: Copper's in, tubs are out and bigger is still better for nearly everyone.) Looking for even more inspiration? Peek inside a Parade of Homes abode.

Whether you're spending the season in the yard or doing home projects galore, I hope you enjoy every moment of summer this year. You deserve it.