How to grow your own wedding flowers
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