For garden weddings that take place in the evening mosquitoes are a real concern. No one wants the bridal party or guests to be slapping at insects during the ceremony, cocktail hour, or outdoor reception. So a few precautions are in order.
There are several granular mosquito repellents that are made of natural materials. In my experience these products work very well. They are best sprinkled the day before in the area where the wedding will take place. Remember to apply them to areas where your guests will be walking as well; paths to the tent or Porta Potties, for example, will need to be covered.
Some want to use citronella candles as well as the granular repellents but care should be taken about where these are placed. The odor from such candles bothers some people and you don’t want them too close to where the food is served for that reason. Be careful about putting lit candles in places where people can inadvertently back into them and catch clothing on fire.
Offering small spray bottle of repellents is thoughtful because there are some people who are more bothered by mosquitoes than others. How often have you heard someone say “If there’s a mosquito in the area it will find me!” A few bottles of mosquito spray that are placed where people can see them will provide those who attract mosquitoes with some extra protection.
Doing your own wedding flowers? Tired of canning jars? Time to go on a Safari!
After you decide on a container to use, start hitting the thrift stores and garage sales. If you map out local thrift and consignment stores, you can plan a fun day out, traveling from source to source looking for treasures and bargains.
Some container ideas: Small glass bottles, clear or tinted; milk glass vases; silver plate “Revere bowls” (these can be found at church consignment shops for $5 and under!); mustard crocks; and wooden berry baskets.
A collection of milk glass vases being prepped for the wedding flowers. (Hint: when using white glass be sure to get white floral foam.)
In the chill of the winter it’s hard to imagine how the garden will look and function for your wedding the following summer. Don’t panic: here are a few tips for beginning your plans in the coldest time of the year.
1. If you have photos of the garden during the summer time, put them in a folder on your computer or make a Pinterest board.
2. Use this time when you’re not distracted by blooming flowers and abundant foliage to plan logistics and make your lists.
3. Contact landscape professionals early if you think you’ll need help with pruning shrubs, lawn repair etc. Some of these jobs can be done either in late-winter or early spring and landscapers usually have more time in these seasons.
4. Winter is the best time to take care of all the other aspects of the wedding. You’ll be better able to tackle the gardens in the spring.
It's difficult to imagine that this snow encrusted hydrangea bush will be filled with pink and blue flowers in July!
Food and bouquets are improved with herbs. Although home-grown bouquets are always wonderful, adding in herbs provides charm and fragrance. Common sage, shown here, is perfect. Oregano, parsley, and basil are also lovely…plant purple or variegated basil in the spring for even more visual spice. And don’t forget the old saying that “Rosemary is for remembrance!”
Many brides want to use garden grown flowers for their wedding, but once they start thinking about the number of flowers required, they often realize that they don’t have enough. Fortunately, garden flowers mix very well with those that can be purchased. Just be sure to research which flowers will be available when you need them. There are online sources for having flowers sent directly to your house (I’ve used www.fiftyflowers.com) or you can contact a local florist or flower supply. Here are some suggestions for flowers that look good with home-grown blooms: Scabiosa, Trachelium caeruleum, Bouvardia, Delphinium, and Roses.
I used garden grown dahlias, zinnias, and hydrangeas for these table arrangements, and added roses, Trachelium, and Scabiosa ordered from Fifty Flowers.
Lavender is a great signature plant for a garden wedding. In many areas it will be in bloom in mid-summer and/or fall. You can buy fresh or dried lavender to tuck into bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages and arrangements. And the array of lavender scented favors and gifts ranges from sachets to soaps or candles and beyond. And because lavender has long been valued for it’s calming properties, it might be the best thing to give everyone in the wedding party!
A box of lavender sachets at the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich.
If you want to plant lavender in the garden, be sure to choose a place that gets full sun. You’ll want at least six hours including the noon hour for this perennial to thrive. If the plants are next to a stone wall or gravel driveway that’s even better, as this plant wants heat! Grow lavender in well-drained soil that is on the neutral to alkaline side. Water deeply but less often – no splashing from an automatic sprinkler system for this plant! Go easy on the fertilizer and compost too – this perennial does better on a leaner diet. After the plant finishes flowering, cut off the old flower stems and an inch or two of the foliage to encourage bushy growth and repeat flowering.
Lavender combines well with roses and other perennials in the sunny garden and looks great planted in groups of five or more.
Today’s post is about a method you can use to evaluate your yard and garden before the wedding. This approach will help you to see what areas need improvement and which places can be ignored. Most people tend to get overwhelmed about pre-wedding landscape preparations. If you’re feeling inundated with things that need doing, it can lead to inaction or the opposite: doing too much.
Here’s a way that you can break things down so you can have a plan that’s manageable. Get a clipboard and some blank paper, or a notebook. Either separate one sheet into three columns or use three different pieces of paper or notebook pages. Label these three pages/columns as follows:
Basic Bad Beautiful
Now go around your yard slowly, looking at everything. One by one, consider each flowerbed, individual shrub or groups of shrubbery, tree, fence, ornaments and other features. Decide which of those three categories each place fits into.
Basic are the plants and objects that are neither horrible nor lovely. They may not be exciting, but they are good enough. Ugly, half-dead plants, weed-filled flowerbeds and rotting fences are all examples of the types of things that would go into the bad group. The things and plants you love go into the beautiful category.
It might be helpful to invite a friend whose taste you trust along and have him or her do the same. You could also hire a garden consultant to go through this process with you. Don’t discuss your ratings the first time around, just walk the property with your friend or consultant and rate each area and object.
Be realistic and don’t be overly critical. If everything looks bad to you, be sure to do this process with at least one other person who might be able to evaluate your property with fresh eyes. Once you’ve rated the property with another person, repeat the walk, this time sharing how each of you have classified the landscape elements.
The idea is this. After you’re done, you’ll have a list of what needs attention and what doesn’t. The truth is, you only have to address what’s in the “bad” column. The beautiful is fine, and the basic fades into the background. Once you get a few pots of flowers or other wedding décor in place, no one will notice those basic areas.
You could go even further and break the “bad” items into three ratings: bad, worse and completely unacceptable. Tackle those in the last category first.
Don’t feel overwhelmed…make a plan.
This row of inkberry shrubs is well maintained and the bed around them mulched and pretty weed free. The forsythia won't be in bloom for the wedding, but that's OK. This area of the property would be rated "basic" - you don't have to do anything here.
This area near the road falls into the bad column, no question about it. In fact, completely unacceptable would be pretty accurate.
This part of the garden is lovely. The bulbs will be gone for the summer wedding, but the boxwoods are neat and healthy. Again, you wouldn't have to do anything in this part of the landscape. Some pots of flowering annuals could be placed up the walkway, in-between the boxwoods, should you want flower color.
Are you a do-it-yourself bride? Fantastic, but be sure to enlist the help of some friends, OK?
That said, here’s how to create an herbal, informal, garden arrangement in a milk-glass vase.
Cut your herbs and flowers the previous day if possible and put them in buckets of water with floral preservative (“flower food”) and store them in a cool room. Start with your clean vases and some clear floral tape. This is available at any floral supply source and many craft stores. If your vase is wide at the top it is also helpful to have some clear glass marbles to hold the stems and weight the container. Use the tape to make a grid of four criss-crossing pieces across the top.
Cut the stems of your herbs to be a good length for the vase. Here I’ve used sage, rosemary and oregano that is in bloom.
Insert the herbs into your vase first, pushing the stems down into the marbles to hold them in place.
You don’t have to use a lot of herbs because you’ll have flowers in the vase too.
Put in the biggest flowers first. Any flowers that you have in your garden will probably look good with the herbs, but round shapes are easiest to work with for this type of bouquet, and zinnias, marigolds and dahlias are always great in such informal, country bouquets.
Tuck in smaller flowers and any fine or thin herbs such as the rosemary sprigs last. Here I used Rudbeckia triloba, a small black-eyed Susan.
The combination of bright flowers and herbs are perfect for a garden wedding.
If you visit Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, take time to walk through the village. You’ll see other gardens, not to mention delightful architecture. But other than a suggestion about where you might spend your honeymoon, what can be learned from a French country village? This one, for example:
First we can see the importance of repetition. Notice how the same colors of flowers are in bloom, be they hollyhocks or roses. This is good information for those who are soon to be planting annuals in anticipation of the wedding. Maybe the smart thing to do is to repeat colors that are already in the garden instead of planting flowers in the same shade as the bridesmaids’ bouquets.
Secondly, notice the aqua paint that’s been used on the furniture and balconies. Colorful paint on a few structures, buildings or outdoor furnishings can help create a spirited, interesting environment. Such color is especially important early in the season when fewer flowers may be in bloom. Where might your wedding venue benefit from a can of purple, blue or coral paint?
Finally, this scene reminds us that perfection isn’t necessary. When you first saw this photo, did you think “Oh how could they possibly stand those grasses and weeds in with the roses and hollyhocks?” Of course you didn’t! Admit it: you didn’t even see them. Your eye was caught by the flowers, charming buildings, and the pleasing blend of colors.
When you’re planning your garden wedding, take inspiration from this small town lane in France. Repeat similar shades of flowers, give some manmade objects a fresh coat of colorful paint, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
PS: Another lesson from another angle: Don’t be afraid of a touch of red!
Here’s a garden wedding tip for those who are going for the “casual country” look . If the ceremony is in the late summer or fall, you might consider planting zinnias and dahlias this spring. Check out the range of zinnia seeds from Renee’s Garden! They have a wonderful, colorful selection.
Many brides who are planning a casual event choose mason jars to hold their flowers. These are lovely, but you could also consider going the Martha’s Vineyard Flower Growers route by using colorful tin cans. Many restaurants have large cans that they’ll give away, and most home cooks will save them for you as well.