the wedding flower project

May 12.   I’m beginning to see that the wedding flower project may substantially change the look of our gardens this summer. As usual I hadn’t really thought it through, but in this case the unforseen result may be a surplus of beauty. Probably not a dearth of vegetables, since we’ve also increased our growing areas.

It started with Megan renting the other house on our place, soon joined by her boyfriend Scott, both of them transplanted Midwesterners, reliable and resourceful as they come, and young enough to be making a home together for the first time. They managed to buy their own ten acres nearby and just last week moved into the yurt they put up there. On August 14th they’re getting married – a big outdoor wedding in an oak grove at Nelson Family Vineyards near Ukiah. We volunteered to coordinate growing the flowers for the wedding.

Mid-August is not an easy time for flowers here. We’ll have our last rains in May, maybe a last shower in June if we’re lucky. Then the humidity drops and the dry heat settles in, still with cold nights (if it’s 90 in the day, it will probably get down to 40 that night). We chose a range of flowers we think are likely to bloom on cue if our timing in growing them is right, in a range of colors that features soft rosy shades, whites and lime greens for bright spots, and deep burgundies to match the bridesmaids’ dresses. Megan and Scott and many of their friends are skillful gardeners, so we’ve spread the risk among half a dozen growers, with every variety being grown in 2 or 3 locations. To help with timing, seeds have been started in batches at weekly intervals.
The dress-matching blooms are sunflowers ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘Velvet Queen’, along with ‘Wine’ zinnias. We’ve also got white sunflowers ‘Moonshadow’ and ‘Itammi,stock,zinniaalian Green Heart’, the ‘Art Deco’ mix of zinnias and the bright ‘Lime’ zinnia. Ammi provides lacy white bouquet filler. Upright stalks of Border Gladiolus come in lots of vivid color combinations and will be a more useful height than the taller regular glads. ‘Flamingo Feather’ Celosia adds deep pink spikes, Gomphrena ‘QIS Formula’ has little globes in all the rosy shades, and ‘Rocket’ snapdragons add their old-fashioned soft colors. ‘Lucinda’ stock and ‘Scentsation’ Nicotiana provide perfume.
Of all of them, I’ve only grown sunflowers, zinnias, and glads, and never have I tried for a particular bloom date, so it’s all a big experiment. The first seeds were started early April on heat mats indoors. Lots of them will be transplanted outdoors soon after May’s new moon.