Making the Cut
growing your own wedding flowers! (community article)
Since this is my first article I feel as though I should introduce myself. My name is Tara, soon to be married to Michael in less than one year on June 25th, 2011! I am a recent college graduate with my degree in Environmental Science Biology and Mike is an army veteran currently an engineering student. We bought a house together a little over a year ago and have enjoyed every single moment of turning it into our perfect home! We love to travel, we love animals and we do everything we can help the environment!
Now, back to this wedding stuff... being and Env Sci major, I've grown QUITE the green thumb, and now that I have a huge garden of my very own I've just been having so much fun with it! Well, now its time to put the beautiful earth to work, for our wedding!! Some have called me crazy, insane, just plain nuts for doing this but I, I... am growing my own wedding flowers! EEEE!! Just saying those words makes me squeal and jump for joy!! The excitement could kill me... and the savings are ASTRONOMICAL! Now, I can't take all the credit for my green thumb, my mother gave me the gene along with all of her know-how. Since I could walk, I was weeding and planting and identifying flowers with up most excitement. So, thank you dearest mother of mine for passing down your passion and also use of your gorgeous garden for more flowers!
So how does one grow their own wedding flowers??? I suggest giving yourself at LEAST a year to plan, plan, plan! Mainly you want to see what will be blooming at the time of your wedding. This requires patience and knowing the inevitable truth that some of your favorite blooms just might not be right for your wedding. First, I picked some flower colors to match our color scheme which is champagne and red. I chose white, orange, yellow and red flowers. I planted tons of seeds, tons of bulbs, and TONS of perennials (these come back every year)… Dahlias, gladiolus, wild flower mixes, varieties of lily (Asiatic, day, cala, lily of the valley), different colors of yarrow (my absolute favorite!), tick seed, many varieties of daisies (Shasta, mini, painted, gerbers, and gaillardia), and my other favorite, astilbe. This wide variety of flowers came from local nurseries, Wal-Mart, and home improvement stores. Bulbs and seeds are very inexpensive but you have to time this just right or they might not be blooming for your wedding. I prefer perennials, they are also pretty inexpensive and if you purchase them when they are blooming they are almost guaranteed to bloom the next year at that time. Potted perennials range from about $4-$12 and can have from 4-40 blooms per pot. I suggest going to a local nursery over a large home improvement store. Local nurseries are much cheaper and have a much larger variety. Also, the local's staff are generally the growers as well, so they really know their stuff! My favorite local nursery always does a buy 5 get one free deal which is fantastic. I spent about $200 dollars on flowers this year. If watered and cared for properly these perennials will last forever, grow, multiply and just be hearty and beautiful. You really get your money’s worth!
Now, after planting I had to eliminate only a very small handful of late bloomers that just didn’t make the cut; the gladiolus and dahlias. Which still left me with a very nice wide variety of gorgeous blooming, beautifully cut, long lasting lovelies! Now the fun part! Once a week, I go outside with some scissors and make a practice bouquet to proudly display on my kitchen table. I really have no sound advice for arranging the bouquets other than practice makes perfect, floral tape is a must, and use whatever fits your theme to decorate! In our case, raffia and starfish! Its also very helpful to arrange in a vase on a lazy Susan, this way you can see from every angle. A shot of vodka in the water in the vase does wonders to keep your bouquet fresh. Also, a spray of organic “de-bugger” is helpful to get rid of any little critters. If this insect thing really “bugs you” you can also spray a mixture of regular old dish soap mixed with water on your blooms before and after you cut them. The soap makes the plants slippery so little bug legs can’t hold on, the scent is a deterrent too. Bouquets… CHECK!
Now, onto centerpieces! Our wedding is very casual / beach themed so we wanted our centerpieces to be really unique and not at all uniform. So we hunted for flower pots of different sizes, shapes, colors and styles and these are some of what we came up with.
Most of them are from Marshalls, TJMaxx, and flea markets and were all around five dollars a piece. Now, this next part is kind of cheating, I will admit… but growing flowers in small flower pots has proved, for me, to be difficult. Most of my “flower pot experiments” didn’t really work out… i.e. I killed some flowers. But hey, no ones perfect and at least I found out on my trial run instead of the week before the big day! So about a week before the wedding I will be going to my local nursery to purchase red annuals (these are one season bloomers) for example begonias, impatiens, petunias and geraniums. Local nurseries normally have great deals on annuals… at mine I can fill a large flower tray (about 10 plants) for five dollars… that’s about 50 cents a plant. Plus, when you buy 3 trays you get 1 tray one free! Amazing huh?? Well, back to the big bug issue… Some people have said and I quote… “Ew, potted plants on the tables?? Umm we’re going to be eating there.” Yes, yes I know, fear not germ-o-phobes… after a spray or two of organic insecticide and a spray of soapy water, a layer of sand on top of your potted plants will keep any straggling little critters at bay. Which works perfectly for our theme as well, sprinkle on a starfish and some shells and perfecto! You now have a centerpiece for about 5 dollars.
Just to add something extra to our rectangular tables we will use extra blooms from the garden and simply put them in recycled glass jars filled with sand, shells and water. What’s the cost of this additional element? Next to nothing, after the cost of sand! So, it is about a year until our wedding and we already have collected everything we need for our DIY centerpieces. Using the great green earth, a little know-how, a lot of TLC, some bargain flower pot finds and local business we have beautiful yet simple centerpieces and bouquets for our wedding!