EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally ran in the January 2006 edition of Mississippi Magazine and again the in January 2009 edition of North Mississippi Christian Family…gardening and flowers are always fun to think about on these cold winter days!
It is winter and it is cold. “Though the weather outside is frightful”…plans are in the works for a gorgeous June wedding in the garden, surrounded by beautiful roses and brilliant blue hydrangeas.
So now is the time to bundle up, get out the new shovel and start playing in the garden. No, kidding. Grab the coat and warm garden gloves.
The neighbors may think you are crazy, but it will be worth every goosebump when the bride walks down the garden path to be married this summer.
Planning is the key for beautiful spring and summer weddings in the garden. Experts agree that timing a particular flower to bloom on the morning of June 14 will take more of a miracle than muscle, but steps taken now can guarantee a beautiful display of blooms just in time for wedding bells to ring.
“You can’t wait until spring to start thinking about the wedding season,” said Larry Stewart, groundskeeper for Monmouth, an antebellum home in Natchez. “You have got to stay on top of things. Bed preparation is very important.”
Stewart said the fall and winter are some of the busiest months in the garden, and it is so important to not waste time when you are creating the background for a special event, such a wedding.
Betty Blanton, garden center manager for Live Oaks Landscapes in Natchez, said to concentrate on clean up in January and February and begin planting shrubs and bulbs to give you the best presentation.
“But have a plan,” Blanton said. “Don’t go planting things haphazardly. Talk to your local garden center and get an idea for what works in your area of Mississippi. Things that grow beautifully here in Natchez, make not always work in North Mississippi.”
Nick Thompson, owner of Madison Garden Center, Inc., of Madison, also believes clean up is an important part of planning a garden wedding. Not always the most glamorous part of gardening, trimming up shrubs and trees are a big part of a beautiful lawn, and a great job to begin in January and February. Thompson also believes in a good six inches of mulch around trees and shrubs now will help them get established. He said just before the wedding, give the trees and shrubs a top-dressing of mulch
Timing is an important part of the planning stage. Thompson said spring bulbs and pansies will begin to play out in mid-May, but will continue to bloom throughout June. But by July, you can forget it. When the temperatures hit 90-95 degrees, those posies are gone with the wind.
Thompson suggests planting pansies, dianthus, snapdragons and ornamental cabbages for spring and early summer weddings. Look for more hardy, drought-resistant plants to take on the hot Mississippi sun for outdoor weddings in July and August.
Hayden Petkovsek, groundskeeper for Dunleith, an antebellum home in Natchez, said it is important get your bulbs and plants established in the fall and winter months to ensure continuous color throughout the spring and summer. The continuous color allows the garden to remain beautiful for the numerous weddings taking place at Dunleith throughout the year.
“You want your garden to be like a fireworks display in the flower beds,” Petkovsek said. “We have weddings and special events in the garden throughout the year and it is important to make sure there is beautiful color at all times.
Tracy Proctor of Designs by Tracy in Tupelo said June is the month for perennials in Mississippi and garden favorites such as Stargazer and Casablanca lilies are excellent choices for a June wedding. Roses are incredible in June, though mid-May is the peak time for a rose by any name.
Nandenia and eleagnus are also two sure-fire perennials that Proctor has used on a variety of blissful occasions, but he loves hostas for variety and texture.
“Hostas have all those different shades of green, which is so popular now,” Proctor said. “The apple green and the variegated plants bring in the creams and lighter colors. And they are super for shade gardens.”
Early June is also a perfect time for using hydrangea. According to Proctor, hydrangeas are at their most intense hue in early June, while turning the greener shades by the end of the month.
When the temperature cranks up in July and August, annuals are the perfect way to transition to hardier plants. Proctor said zinnias, sunflowers, and marigolds make a good showing in the garden and provide a punch of color.
Clean up the yard for the wedding, but as for planting, Proctor suggests concentrating your flowers in the focus area. He said you don’t have to have flowers throughout the yard.
“Put the most color in the places your guests will be circulating,” Proctor said. “You can have a lovely presentation at the alter and at the tables for the reception, without planting throughout the lawn.”
Speaking of color, Proctor said the hottest color for weddings this year is “green-green-green.” Peaches and corals are making a comeback and hot pink is great for summer weddings.
Larry Stewart of Monmouth in Natchez said they always stick to pastels. Brides love white, light pinks, pale yellows, and powder blues.
Potted plants are a major element of garden wedding design today. Annuals can be placed in terracotta pots for instant color that looks fresh.
Susan Smith, co-owner of Smith Landscaping and The Greenhouse in Columbus, said white pot plants are always a favorite. She also uses a lot of ivy topiaries in pots throughout the garden to add a sense of formality to the garden wedding. They also help cover up unsightly areas.
Tracy Proctor of Designs by Tracy said mixed plantings can be placed in painted terracotta pots and used as centerpieces for reception tables. Small ivy topiaries can also be used in the tablescape.
And they also allow for “Plan B” when the wedding has to be moved in the event of rain, this is Mississippi, after all.
See this story in the January/February 2006 edition of Mississippi Magazine at Mississippi Magazine January 2006
See this story in the January 2009 edition of North Mississippi Christian Family at NMSCF January 2009