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August 30, 2014
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Flowers for a summer wedding

Pick your flowers when they are picture-perfect like this Sunflower “Starburst Lemon Aura” and the other flowers shown here.
Photos by Anne Hart

By Anne Hart

The region boasts many talented floral designers and florists who work creatively and diligently to make your wedding flowers stand out. However, there is another option for those of you who take a hands-on approach and/or have a strict budget. You can grow, pick and arrange your own wedding flowers, or choose some combination of the above.

If you are a gardener, your seed and bulb orders for the annuals should be completed soon. Pick varieties that will be in bloom at the time of your wedding and make sure to start the seeds at the right time. There are many easy to grow annuals that will provide gorgeous flowers; take care to select for color, height and number of days till bloom. If you have perennial gardens, note when those plants are in bloom and incorporate them or their foliage into your plan. If you don’t have a garden, you may have a gardening friend or two who would be honored to grow flowers as their wedding present to you.

Picking flowers is the easy part. Whether you pick in your own garden, a friend’s garden, or at a pick-your-own garden or farm, this simple advice will help you to select the freshest, most beautiful flowers available and keep them that way.

Pick early or late in the day: The best time to pick flowers is early in the day when their stems are full of water and their sugar content is higher. Second best time is early evening.

Select for freshness: Flowers such as peonies and roses should be picked when the bud is just beginning to open and is starting to show color. Spiked flowers such as foxglove or gladiolus should be picked when the bottom three or four buds are in bloom. Delphinium and lupin should be picked when most of the spike is in bloom. Flowers such as zinnias, daisies, sunflowers and dahlias should be picked when they are fully open, but before they develop any pollen (a circle of yellow).

Use a clean bucket and sharp, clean flower shears: Cut the stem cleanly and at an angle so that there is more area for water uptake. Don’t mash the stem as you would if picking by hand, you will damage the stem and it will not be able to take up water. Place directly into a bucket filled with warm but never hot water, minimizing the possibility of air pockets in the stem. It is best to strip the bottom leaves before placing the flower into the bucket. Dirt can get into the water, blocking the stems and bacteria can begin to grow.