A Garden for Love

A garden can be many things to different people.  The bounty of a garden can sustain and nourish the body, and the beauty can feed the heart and soul.  I usually focus a great deal on that, but in addition, there are gardens created that are inspired by occasions, events and memorials in one’s life.   This month, Validity has a special focus on making your wedding day special, a perfect event, beautifully romantic, a wonderfully memorable time, that as a couple you will share for a lifetime.  So possibly a garden for love could help you in creating that special day.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 2.42.27 PMAs a couple begins their journey together, this first big event for them is full of hopes, dreams, visions and maybe some beautiful fantasies that they will share with family and friends to celebrate the beginning of their lives together.

One of the first decisions of planning a wedding is where.  The venue may be a small chapel, a large church, a cutting-edge, modern hotel or an old, historical one, a sandy beach, a field of flowers, a woodland sanctuary, your own backyard or a garden.  So let’s consider some thoughts for how a garden can help in creating a magical, awe-inspiring venue for that memorable day.

A garden can be one of the most beautiful, romantic settings for a wedding.

There is a saying I love, “Time began in a garden and so did love.” So maybe that’s why it would seem an appropriate setting for a couple to create a memorable day to begin their time together.  Of course, I use all kinds of excuses to create yet another garden spot.  So if you had the time for planning your very own garden for love, that would be your own garden to visit and enjoy together and keep making memories there.   It would be very special.  Just imagine the possibilities: beautiful flowers, maybe an arch or an arbor covered in flowers and vines, flower covered swings, flower lined paths, little twinkling lights in trees, candlelight and flowers everywhere.  Then maybe you would have an open-sided tent with lights and flowers swinging from the center and around the four corners.  This garden could have a theme or style with the use of flower choices, color and hardscape that is uniquely yours as the two of you create your own magical garden.   The other possibility is to find a garden space or an outdoor venue that is currently used for weddings that you can add some of your own designs and features to make it uniquely yours.

Another major part of the wedding is the flowers.  They evoke a sense of romance and style for this most important day.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wedding without them.  I have no doubt about the power of flowers to make life beautiful, enhance your mood, make you happy or make you feel the love.  A beautiful bride holding a lovely bouquet of flowers; that just is perfectly perfect.  This is again a chance for your own design and creative expression for the bride and groom in your choices of colors and types.  There again, you can use several colors and types or just one or two, whatever would be the most meaningful to both of you.

Have Your Flowers & Pick Them Too

A cutting garden is enjoyable to have anytime, but it would be most wonderful and special to grow a cutting garden of flowers to be used for your own wedding day.  There are many choices of flowers excellent for a cutting garden that range from perennials, biennials and annuals.  Some of the old-fashioned flowers often grown are zinnia, marigold, foxglove, columbine, oriental poppy, bleeding heart, lenten rose, pansy, daisy, hollyhock, narcissus, sunflower, feverfew, clary sage, aster, coreopsis, dahlias and phlox.

Big, Bold and Beautiful

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 2.41.59 PMMany different types, colors and textures of flowers can go into the bride’s bouquet and arrangements for a wedding.  For bold, focal blossoms, peonies are wonderful, especially the double blossom cultivars like “Festvia Maxima.” Cut these blooms when they are about three quarters open for best long-lasting appearance.  The peonies will bloom all at once and early in the spring.  To extend their bloom time, cut their stems 16 or so inches long when the first crack of color appears on the hard, green bud.  Strip off most of the leaves and wrap up to ten stems in three layers of tissue paper.  Mark the date on them and store in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.  When you take them out, cut an inch off the bottom of the stem and stand in water to rehydrate.  In just two days, they will be in full bloom.

Another beautiful, focal flower is the giant, white calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica).   These bloom from mid-spring to late summer.  They are incredibly beautiful, grow from a rhizome and like full sun and rich, sandy soil.

The Siberian Iris (Iris siberica) has dreamy, royal blue blooms.  It has a triangular shape that stands out from others.  It blooms from mid-spring to early summer and likes full sun.  Each stalk will produce two flowers.   After the first one closes, the second one will open.

For Spiky Splendor

“Elfin Pink” penstemon (Penstemon barbatus) produces many stems of bright, tubular blooms in a stunning, deep pink.  Plant in full sun in fertile, well-drained soil, and it will bloom from early summer to early fall.

The elegant Delphinium “Pacific Giant Mix” can add height and drama with its beautiful, cobalt blue blooms.  Plant in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.  Bloom time is early to mid summer.  After their initial bloom, you can cut these plants back to the ground, add compost around the base and water well.  This will produce a second round of blooms in late summer through early fall.

“Purpleicious Speedwell” (Veronica spicata), with dazzling violet mini-spires that are prolific and last a long time as a cut flower, are easy to grow.   Harvest all summer and they will bloom again in the fall.

Frame It and Fill Out

To add an intricate, wispy framework for arrangements or bouquets, grow colewort (Crambe cordifolia).  It has strong, multi-branched stems with small, white flowers in late spring and mid summer.  Colewort needs full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.  Another good choice is Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila elegant).

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 2.42.13 PMPincushion flower (Scabiosa), with its soft, lacy-looking blooms, are great fillers and framers for arrangements.  Butterfly Blue is quite divine.  Pincushion flowers need full sun and moderate to fertile soil.  The seed heads can also be used in late season arrangements and bouquets.

With scalloped leaves and foamy clusters of tiny, chartreuse blossoms, “Lady’s Mantle” (Alchemilla mollis) is especially wonderful for combining with any shade of blue.  It prefers to be planted in partial to full shade and well-drained soil.  As an added bonus, it is also drought-tolerant.

“Sweet Pea” (Lathyrus odoratus) has a delicate, draping nature and a sweet scent.   These exquisite flowers make great additions to the vase or bouquet.  Sow seeds in cool weather in full sun to part shade in rich soil with good drainage, and provide something for them to climb on.

In deciding where to site and how to lay out a cutting garden, you will want to check the location for how much sun it receives, and where are the areas of shade or partial shade.  One of the main reasons for a cutting garden is to cut the flowers, of course, and not to cut the blooms in other areas of your gardens or landscape, so you keep their beautiful display and design intact.  Design in the cutting garden should be for ease of harvest and requirements of the plants chosen.   If you use perennials, biennials and annuals, set the perennials apart from the others so their roots will go undisturbed as you plant and replant the others.   You may also want to consider, since you will be cutting the blooms, to site the garden in an out of the way spot or give it a border of small shrubs or plants to screen it, so the coming and going of blooms will go unnoticed.   In a cutting garden, you don’t have to worry about color schemes.   All colors can be welcome there and you can plant varieties that can be harvested from early spring into late fall.  A cutting garden can provide a lot of fun and enjoyment and provide one of the essential elements for many of life’s celebrations, such as that special wedding day.

January’s Checklist

*Work on your garden design for this year.

*Review last year’s garden journal and get one started for this year.

*Take inventory of leftover seeds and those you may have saved to know what you need to purchase for this season.  Look at all the wonderful seed catalogs and if ordering, order early so you don’t miss out on your most wanted items.

*On a sunny day, do a little or a lot of winter weeding.

*Sow seeds of poppies and larkspurs in flower beds.

*Start seeds indoors at the end of the month for cabbage, lettuce and broccoli.

*Weed the asparagus bed and strawberry beds, then feed plants and add more mulch, if needed, near the end of the month.

*If onion and cabbage transplants are available, you could set them out in the garden beneath a row cover.

*Check perennials for frost heaving (uplifting from the soil surface).  Add more mulch if necessary.

*If the ground is not too wet, you can turn beds to start to break up frozen layers and expose insect eggs and larvae for the birds.   It will kill any exposed pests.

*As long as the ground is not frozen, plant hardy evergreens, trees and shrubs.  Keep them well-watered and mulched.

*Prune trees, shrubs, fruit trees and grapes during their dormant season.

*Remember not to prune any spring flowering shrubs at this time or you’ll be pruning off flowers.

*If it’s above freezing and not windy, spray fruit trees with dormant oil.   Dormant oil is a non-toxic and very effective control for plum curculio, scale and other pests and their eggs.  If any plant has a current infestation of scale, it should be sprayed two or more times over the winter.

*Trim up hardy herbs such as rosemary, savory, thyme and oregano.  They will benefit from a little late winter TLC.

With a whole new year ahead of us, now is the time we can dream and scheme about what we can do in our gardens this year and all kinds of new gardens in our future.   So may your garden wishes and dreams be fulfilled in the new year, and may your gardens overflow with “Good Food, Joy, and most of all, Love.”

Life is a gift, and there’s no greater gift than giving one’s life for another.    I do think the garden helps us understand some of the wondrous miracles of that great gift.    Hope you have a good, giving time in the garden.

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