BE YOUR OWN FLORIST

By Sarah

Gertrude Jekyll once said that ‘a garden teaches industry and thrift’ and I think she was right. Being a wannabe plantswoman and garden maven, I worried that a florist might not be able to emulate my taste in informal, blousey, Derbyshire cottage garden flowers. And hiring a florist would take a significant chunk out of our budget. So, taking a leaf out of Gertrude’s book, Mum and I are doing it ourselves.

We’re doing everything apart from the church flowers. There’s a wonderful lady who lives in Kirk Ireton who has been involved in RHS Chelsea and she usually creates the church flowers for village weddings on the condition that the bride and groom make a donation to KI church. She did my sister’s five years ago and they looked fabulous with random finds from the wholesale market in Derby plus unusual herbaceous perennials she’d picked from her amazing garden. There’s another village girl getting married in Kirk Ireton church the day before me (Belinda is actually the daughter of Mum’s friend, Bev). So we’re basically splitting the cost of the whole-sale flowers and have agreed on a neutral white and green palette.

So that leaves us in charge of: my bouquet, four bridesmaid bouquets, eight table centrepieces and roughly twenty button holes for various close family members and ushers.

We’re ordering from the Triangle Nursery – basically an online whole-sale flower supplier. You have to be a bit savvy and order seasonal flowers that you know will be a bit cheaper at auction. You order a few days in advance and then they deliver the flowers straight to your house.

Our wedding is on Sunday 6th August so we’re actually doing the flowers on Saturday the 5th August. But we’ll have them delivered on the Thursday to allow time for conditioning and give the blooms chance to open up.

Did I forget to tell you that Mum has also agreed that we’ll do the bouquets and centrepieces for Belinda’s wedding the day before? We’ll order all of Belinda’s flowers at the same time. I’m a bit worried that either Belinda’s flowers won’t be open enough or that ours will start to droop but my maternal figure assures me that all will be fine.

So… Mummy, sister Laura and I will do wave one: Belinda’s flowers on Friday. On Saturday, we’ll begin wave two: the flowers for Steve and me with bridesmaids Anna, Rose and Shata having arrived by then to be additional deckhands. And then I’ll hopefully have enough energy left to get married to Steve on Sunday.

When the flowers arrive, we will immediately trim and condition the flowers with buckets of water and flower food in a cool room. We’ll use my mum and dad’s sitting room on the shady side of the house with the curtains closed.

For our summer blue cottage garden look we are ordering:

12 bunches of mixed blue nigella ‘damascena blue’ ( for bouquets and centrepieces)

50 stems of scabious ‘caucasica staefa’ (for bouquets and centrepieces)

50 stems of pale blue delphinium ‘en. ballkleid’ (for my bouquet and centrepieces)

50 stems of blue cornflowers (for bouquets and buttonholes)

20 stems of roses in ‘wedding pink’ (we’re using two of these huge peachy roses as what Sarah Raven calls a ‘gatecrasher’ in my bridal bouquet and we’ll give the rest to Belinda)

60 stems of white ‘akito’ roses (for bouquets)

80 stems of white ‘rosita’ lisianthus (for bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces)

10 stems of bouvardia ‘double diamond white’ (for bouquets)

20 stems of achillea ‘white beauty’ (for centrepieces)

20 stems of stocks ‘aida white’ (for centrepieces)

At the moment (I’m drafting this post on 9th July) white Duchesse De Nemours peonies are still available at £1.45 a stem. If we can still get them when we order on 27th July then they’ll be finding their way into my bouquet because I totally adore them! Although technically you wouldn’t find them in the early August garden because they’re a June flower. FYI, the early August cottage garden is all about the hydrangea, dinner-plate dahlia and the repeat flowering rose.

Our flower order looks like it’s going to cost about £250 so it will make us a substantial saving. We’ve also got a tonne of plant food, floristry tape and ribbon for the bouquets. The centrepieces will consist of the infamous Douwe Egberts coffee jars (with the labels soaked off) filled with informally arranged blues and whites. We’ll put a little water in each coffee jar to keep the flowers hydrated while they’re propped up in boxes in my mum’s car boot. Then we’ll top them up with more water when they’re in place on the tables at Shottle Hall.

Looks like we’re going to be busy over the next few weeks…

-Sarah-x