The other day I received an inquiry to grow and design a flower feast for a 2020 wedding celebration. With 12 years under my belt, I continue to deepen my understanding of how to both read the landscape as a grower, align wedding dates with flower phenology, and read the needs and interests of clients and members.
Flowers speak to our emotional sensibilities and often support communication where human language ends. This will show up with wedding flowers, especially, as sometimes what you think you want (roses), and what deep down you really want (dahlias or lisianthus), emerges. Luckily there are tools to support communication of each. The verbosity of my newsletter articles, reveals that I like to write, but when it comes to wedding flowers it’s all about the visual. My potential client shared with me their flower ‘mood board’ as a starting point. Just when I thought I mastered Pinterest, the landscape shifts to mood boards. It’s interesting to play with this theme and piece together bouquet collages. I think mood and color often go hand in hand to convey the feel about a particular topic and I got to reflecting on what the season’s mood board and color palette revealed.
June brought the ability to see green. Growth was the name of the botanical game and I found myself marveling at how the pears, peas, and poppies sprung from its original seed-coated horizontality, gesturing forever upward and outward. Onward with growth, mulch, and the subtleties of purple and pink. Pink pillows of peony blossom, cathedral spiries of delphinium racemes and the intimate splashes of pink on pistils on view when I paused to consider fruitset of apples and aronia.
Red emerged with July, and the mood in the orchard, in bouquets and admittedly with your farmer, was firery, shapeshifty, and oh so vibrant.
Ruby jeweled currants, firecracker beebalm, ripening cherries, cardinal flower spires—the lands riches mixed with dreams denied (the red-wing blackbirds bested us and the netting on our cherry trees once again) and I found myself grateful for the ‘just in time’ arrival of new fruit members. There were oh so many currants, and heat loving flowers that withstood gust fronts and held their own for ceremonial swag with wedding work. I also felt relief that our hope for humanity rose bloomed once again, electrified by the lamplit wings of fireflies wandering the prairie and grateful to hoist a toast with friends and fruit lovers in our orchard for our annual Happy Hour gathering. We seemed to round a corner just as the Japanese beetles showed up and feasted on all of our stonefruits. Burned by insect wit once again. Sorry no plums this season.
August came and went in a purple haze and I surrendered to the aronia, elderberry, and double header wedding work.
I was grateful for the anti-oxidant uplift though tucked away the cautionary tales of aronia (do we really need 60 plants which yielded on average 20# of fruit/shrub – that’s after cutting stems for bouquets). I made a mental note to re-draw the orchard maps and flag the shrubs and herbs to be divided and transplanted. Purple saturation brought some relief. I learned to re-connect with my hammock, invite in another round of bouquet play with our August Brunch n Blooms, stretch my comfort zone as I presented at the Horticulture Wellness Field day in Janesville, and to retreat North if only for a moment’s break and breathe to spend time with family and water.
Color palettes need a little contrast, the yin to the hues yang. Yellow rose to the occasion, kept it real during the summer months and knew how to show up. Yellow yarrows, clove currant blossoms, and golden marguerites brought some healthy boundaries to June’s expansion. Silphium, coneflowers, rudbekia, and celosias, synthesized the sun, softened the purple – red intensity throughout July and August and I like to think that the farm and your farmers came into alignment, or at least found a way to tap into the ‘trust frequency’.
At present, I am taking a pause from ‘squirrel mode’ to remind myself why I love the shift to fall. September brings seasonal convergence, wherein all the best laid plans and intentions manifest (or not), and I celebrate the return of orange. Our zinnias, dahlias, and mums strum deep into orange and the pumpkins follow not far behind.
The days are noticeably shorter, and harvest needs noticeably longer. Canning pickles, juicing and jamming elderberry, drying flowers, making herbal tinctures, and hustling under the persistent nudge of eminent frost (both a relief and an anxiety-still so much to harvest, so many bouquets yet to design—admittedly I even dream of winter). Autumn is the season of alchemy. Soil sets to work transforming any plant residues (and residual negativity) to compost while cover crops are seeded to feed the microbes and make mulch for next year’s crops and possibilities. Fruit ripens, flowers transmute radiance, bees digest nectar—store honey, and everywhere seeds abound-encapsulating the entelechy of the land.
Your farmer, too, seemed to embody the colors, textures, and hues of the landscape. The wedding flower flow is growing into its own and I found myself booked for the season, with a sweet spot of 12.
We’ve seeded the intention to weave poetry into our Brunch n Blooms gatherings and look for future ‘Poetry in Bloom’ gatherings that combine flowers + bouquet making + brunch + poetry = blooming bliss, in 2020 and beyond.
I made space for celebration with each month, tried out a few night markets to deepen connections to the local area, taught a couple of new courses, played with poems, mentored beginning flower and fruit farmers, and committed to learning new designs, skills, and ways to weave in flowers as self-care. I want to say I felt all the colors of the rainbow in my muscle memory, though Rob will tell you my default is purple and orange. I am grateful for the allurement of each and look forward to discovering, making plans, and above all being present with the hospitality of the land and the opportunity to continue to connect with both people and place.