Catherine Duncan lives in Peebles in the Scottish Borders where she grows seasonal, scented cut flowers in her garden to sell for local customers and for weddings. She is a member of Flowers from the Farm, a network of British flower growers. When not gardening she enjoys baking, cake decorating and spending time with her husband and 3 young daughters. Catherine keeps a record of her progress in the cutting garden on her blog at cloudberryflowers.wordpress.com and you can also find her on Twitter @cberryflowers and Instagram.
I love to grow flowers for weddings in Scotland. My style of flowers are natural, fresh, seasonal and have that just picked from the garden quality to them. If you and your friends and family are feeling creative you can grow and arrange them yourself too.
For a late summer wedding you could sow the seeds in early spring that year. For an earlier summer wedding you can start sowing some hardy annuals the autumn before, overwinter them and they will flower earlier in the summer for you the following year. Hardy annuals are flowers that can withstand cooler temperatures. They will put down roots over the autumn and winter and with some spring warmth will be ready to get growing and produce strong sturdy plants for you.
Below I am going to talk about my favorite flowers to grow for weddings. They are flowers that I have tried and tested over the last few seasons and I have found they grow well in our Scottish climate, where there is a lot of rain and sometimes not all that much sun! They also stand up well out of water in bridal bouquets, as the last thing you want is flowers wilting on your special day. All the flowers below are ones that I love to grow and arrange for weddings but there are so many more varieties that you can try to tie in with your style and color scheme.
Cornflowers are a favorite of mine for their color and their ability to last out of water. They are easy to grow and are cut and come again flowers giving you blooms over a long season. They are brilliant out of water so no wilting in your bride’s bouquet or buttonhole and they will give your wedding flowers a country garden feel. They are a hardy annual so you can start sowing some seeds in the autumn prior to your wedding and over winter them or start them off in the spring for flowers later in the summer. The photographs below show a hair comb for a bride made with blue, purple and white cornflowers and a brides bouquet I made using blue cornflowers for some bright spots of color.
There are so many varieties of scabious, both annual and perennial. Both look great in bouquets. Again, they come in a variety of colours and will keep providing you with flowers the more you cut them. The photograph below on the left shows you some white annual scabious I grew for some bridesmaid’s bouquets and on the right a bridal bouquet with pink and white annual scabious. This is a flower that really gets going in late summer and can bloom right through autumn until your first frosts.
Ammi majus is a great white filler in bouquets with its airy frothy flowers. Again, this is a hardy annual where you can start growing it in the autumn or spring. When it is very young it can wilt so make sure you cut it when it has matured but before the pollen drops. It will then last very well in wedding work. You can see it in the photograph below just at the front of the bridesmaids bouquet from a July wedding.
I use white and pink varieties of cosmos in my wedding bouquets. It is a beautiful flower, delicate and lasts well supported by other flowers and foliage. It also looks beautiful in table arrangements at your wedding. It is more tender than flowers like cornflowers and ammi so you have to sow it in the spring and only plant it out when the risk of frost has gone. The photograph below shows you a brides bouquet I grew and arranged using white cosmos and on the right the beautiful pink cosmos provides a focal point in a brides bouquet.
This is another great filler flower in a bouquet. I grow achillea ptarmica which provides beautiful white flowers not unlike gypsophilia and I grow achillea millefolium in a variety of colours which fulfils the same role as ammi but is slightly denser in a bouquet. I grow this perennial from seed but you can buy perennial plants for your garden instead. In the photograph below you can see some pink achillea adding some colour to a brides bouquet.
I have grown some astrantia from seed. However, it took a long time to germinate and then a few years to establish a good plant producing flowers I could use for bouquets. Again, you can buy perennial plants to give you flowers much earlier in your garden. Astrantia as well as being an excellent cut flower for wedding work also dries very well. I use it in buttonholes and flower crowns as well as bouquets which you can see in the photographs below.
Larkspur is a hardy annual easily grown from seed each year. It provides a vertical spike in bouquets or can be used to trail at the edges softening the appearance. It also makes lovely confetti when dried. The photographs below show you white larkspur trailing in the bouquet on the left and as blue almost purple spikes in the bouquet on the right.
Sweet William are flowers on strong stems, which last an exceptionally long time in a vase and are also excellent in wedding work out of water. They are biennials so must be grown in the summer prior to the one when you want them to flower. Sown in June they will produce plants with a good root system which will continue to grow over the winter, ready to shoot up flowering stems the following year. Sweet william under the right conditions may give you flowers for another year after that too. Below you can see the pale pink sweet william I used in a summer bridal bouquet.
Nigella is such a distinctive delicate beautiful flower that it has to be in my top 10 wedding flowers to grow.
I sow it successionally from seed every year to provide me with flowers all summer long. After flowering the stems that are not cut will produce amazing seed pods which look great in buttonholes. The buttonhole in the photo below has a white nigella flower as a focal point with more white nigella in the brides bouquet on the right.
Phacelia is normally grown as a green manure but actually works beautifully as a cut flower, which stands up well out of water. It is a hardy annual that is very easy to grow from seed. You can either plant it in the autumn for stronger plants and earlier flowers the following year or sow it in the spring. You can see the phacelia in this photograph which complements the purple/white scabious and white cosmos beautifully.
Growing beautiful wedding flowers from tiny seeds and plants each year is such a fulfilling enjoyable job I am lucky enough to do. If you decide it is something you would like to try for your wedding you will be creating something beautiful, with no air miles to get to your wedding and have the satisfaction you created them yourself. Make sure you give yourself enough time to grow your flowers. You will have to research the varieties you love, when they like to be sown, how to care for them and how long the period is between sowing and blooming. Plant plenty so you have more than enough to choose from when arranging and a good variety will make your bouquets look vibrant and interesting. Flowers that are seasonal, scented, grown with love and full of memories of family and friends gardens will be remembered well after a wedding by the guests and the bridal couple themselves.