GAR­DENS

How to grow your own wed­ding flow­ers

Town & Country (UK) - - CONTENTS -

In the mid­dle of the bu­colic Som­er­set coun­try­side lies Com­mon Farm, where Ge­orgie New­bery has trans­formed a seven-acre plot into a flour­ish­ing cot­tage in­dus­try. Wed­dings are at the heart of her flower-grow­ing busi­ness – she does ap­prox­i­mately 60 a year, as well as teach­ing bridesto-be how to grow their own blooms.

‘Hav­ing home-grown flow­ers re­ally makes a wed­ding day spe­cial; it’s so much more per­sonal and it is also a long-stand­ing tra­di­tion,’ says New­bery. ‘Take Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – for their nup­tials in May, they will al­most cer­tainly dec­o­rate the venues with flora from the Royal Fam­ily’s many gar­dens. It adds a nice sense of her­itage to the oc­ca­sion.’

If you’re hold­ing the wed­ding at home, set aside a sep­a­rate area for a cut­ting gar­den that’s out of view of the guests. It doesn’t need to be huge – about half the size of a nor­mal al­lot­ment, or three raised beds of nine feet by three feet.

Be­fore you plant any­thing, look at what is al­ready bloom­ing in your gar­den in the month when the mar­riage will take place, as well as tak­ing note of any suit­able fo­liage – a Pinterest board is the most use­ful way to col­late the im­agery. From there, study seed cat­a­logues and pick out five or six an­nu­als to add bulk and colour. Hardy plants, such as gyp­sophila and night-scented stocks, are best for an early­sum­mer wed­ding, while ten­der va­ri­eties like cos­mos work well for the later months. ‘The real skill is to time the plant­ing so that they flower at the right mo­ment,’ says New­bery. ‘Keep the date of your big day in mind and count back­wards. And re­mem­ber that growth rates vary hugely de­pend­ing on the time of year.’

To cal­cu­late quan­tity, make a prac­tice cen­tre­piece for a ta­ble. As a gen­eral rule of thumb, it should con­sist of fo­liage, ac­cent flow­ers and filler in­clud­ing baby’s breath or heather in equal pro­por­tions. Count the num­ber of stems you use, then mul­ti­ply those by the num­ber of ta­bles that you in­tend to dec­o­rate. Don’t for­get the bou­quets and but­ton­holes for the bridal party, plus ad­di­tional fo­cal points, such as flo­ral arches.

‘You could out­source part of it to a pro­fes­sional florist and still make a huge sav­ing,’ says New­bery. ‘The av­er­age bill for wed­ding flow­ers in the UK is £2,500, so even if you go on a course and buy masses of bulbs, your outlay will only be in the low hun­dreds, as the labour is a re­ally big per­cent­age of your cost. But bear in mind that some­one will need to do that work – en­sure that you have re­li­able peo­ple at hand to gather the blooms the day be­fore the event and ar­range them the fol­low­ing morn­ing. It’s un­likely that the bride or the mother of the bride will have the time to do this them­selves, so en­list­ing a fam­ily mem­ber or friend to help with this is es­sen­tial.’

‘That said, the very best wed­dings have a DIY el­e­ment to them, where every­one feels in­vested in the oc­ca­sion – they in­vari­ably have the best at­mos­phere.’ And when it comes to grow­ing flow­ers, don’t worry about them look­ing rus­tic. Un­like com­mer­cial stems, which have been care­fully graded and can look al­most un­nat­u­rally per­fect, their do­mes­tic coun­ter­parts are full of life and ex­u­beran ce– a fit­ting back­drop to a joy­ous cel­e­bra­tion. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.com­mon­farm­flow­ers.com.

left: ge­orgie new­bery. be­low left: an ar­range­ment by com­mon farm flow­ers. op­po­site: the farm’s flower fields

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