Weddings can be a stressful time for those involved, but our employee Amy decided to take this one step further and grow her own wedding flowers. I stopped by her garden two weeks before her nuptials to see how the Dahlias, Sunflowers, and Zinnia she planted in the spring were doing.
I wasn’t sure of my directions while driving through her neighborhood, but once I got close her house was unmistakable. A rainbow of blooms cascades from the hill next to her house; I couldn’t help but get a little giddy with excitement.
“As you can tell, my garden is very overloaded. I have a plant problem,” Amy says as soon as I step out of the car. Don’t we all?
Boutonnieres of Zinnia
She explains that there was “somewhat of a bare spot” in the front of the garden, which is where she decided to plant the Zinnia seeds that will become the boutonnieres and corsages at the September 24 wedding. “I wish I had done a little more research on Zinnias, I just went and looked at colors that I liked and picked them … I wish I had gotten bigger varieties,” she admits.
Decorating with Dahlia containers
Dahlias are the real showpiece of the wedding and Amy has a variety of buckets planted around her garden. “I’m hoping just to bring the buckets that they are growing in and place them around the venue,” she says. “Some of (the buckets) do not look good enough so I’ll just cut the flowers for bouquets.” Fall colors are the theme for the wedding, which means everything is blooming a variety of oranges, yellows and whites.
A bridal bouquet of Sunflowers
Amy commandeered their vegetable garden to grow wedding flowers this season. “It’s very unkempt because I just sprinkled the Sunflowers in there. Those are going to be placed in sap buckets at the wedding and become my bridal bouquet.” The sunflowers are spectacular and the bees swarm about, enjoying the big blooms until they will be cut for the wedding.
Choosing the varieties for the wedding
To get an idea of what to grow for the September wedding, Amy drove around last year at this time to see what was in bloom. “I had an idea that I wanted to do Dahlias, Zinnias and Sunflowers and it was kind of scary to me because I’ve never grown them before. I am amazed – I think every seed I sprinkled germinated,” she says. I’m amazed too and asked her several times if she has something magical in her soil. “I don’t even fertilize,” she says, proudly.
Besides the annuals being grown for the wedding, Amy also has a large perennial garden that is lush, colorful and wild. She says at this point she’s trying to keep up by thinning everything out to make more room, especially the Phlox, Black Eyed Susan and Hostas.
At work on the landscape for 15 years and counting
Amy has been shaping her landscape for 15 years now and many of the plants have special meaning. “Part of how I got into gardening was my grandmother passed away and my brother bought her house … we had to move all of her gardens and so I took a little piece of everything,” she says. “A lot of the plants in my garden are from my grandmother’s.”
We move through the endless Phlox and Black Eyed Susans, abuzz with of bees and butterflies, and she points out a small, unique plant with orange blooms. “I am going to take these Japanese Lanterns and put them in a bowl at the wedding. My grandma used to grow them and sell them on the side of the road. They dry really well,” she says.
Amy’s plan is to literally cut everything with color on her wedding day. “I don’t get married until 6 p.m. so I think Saturday morning I’ll come out and cut everything that has a bloom,” she says. “Normally I would have cut some of these things down, but if they still have a couple good blossoms I might use them as a boutonniere.”
A simple garden philosophy
Her garden philosophy is simple: if she thinks it’s pretty and it blooms, it has a place. “I like a wide variety of plants, and because I am a plant collector it’s kind of taught me a lot, which ones will live in a crowded garden and which ones won’t,” she says. “Also, I’ve learned not to buy plants that grow too low because I don’t have room for them. Daylilies are my absolute favorite.”
Amy says she and her best friend are in a plant competition. I ask who’s winning. “I’d say we’re probably about tied,” she answers. “Whatever I have that she doesn’t I pick up for her or dig up for her and vice versa.”
Have you tried growing wedding flowers? Please share your experience below!