A farm wedding in July

By the Curious Scribbler

Seven years ago I began this blog with an account of the flowers we arranged for my elder daughter’s wedding in November. Raiding my own and friends’ gardens then  provided a floral range not readily accessible through florists.   I built on this experience last month when my younger daughter married, in a barn wedding in Herefordshire.  This was no stately venue but a real working barn, in which the groom’s family house their beef cattle and hay in winter, and what the bride wanted was lots of fairy lights and flowers!

In keeping with the setting we avoided the new and shiny.  Between the two families we collected up three pairs of aged milk churns, seven leaking galvanised buckets, and sundry large Victorian earthenware storage pots, and some large jam jars.  For the table centrepieces we used amateur clay pots we had thrown ourselves.

Warren Farm, Brockhampton also sells flowers at the farm gate, and we were up soon after dawn to roam the cutting field, and came back with bucket loads of summer flowers: achillea, Ammi majus, delphinium, larkspur, lupin, scabious, clarkia, nigella, astrantia,  helichrysum, cornflower, gypsophila, lavender, hydrangea, many shades of cosmos.  Farmer James Hawkins margins his fields with generous plantings of wild carrot, borage and Phacelia tanacetifolia  for wildlife and insects, and brought great buckets of these for the big arrangements.  The old pigsties became our workspace for the day.

For the milk churns we used teasels and white echinops to provide the structure of the arrangements and created three pairs of varying formality.  To flank the bride and groom were the most formal arrangements while those framing the farm entrance were perhaps the most evocative, billowing with carrot and phacelia from the fields.

From my garden I brought the teasels, variegated tall true bulrushes (Scirpus lacustris albescens) from my pond, male fern, pink fairy rose, and fruiting guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) to drape over the edges of the pots.  Ivy was foraged locally from the woods.

The farm-grown Achillea was a particular delight for the big arrangements, for it grows more than two feet tall with great plates of flowers in romantic summer  shades of pink, cream and burgundy.

Achillea millefolium

The bouquets for bride and bridesmaids were made of traditional wildflowers like honeysuckle and hardhead, along with lady’s mantle, astrantia and sweet peas. All the material for bouquets and buttonholes were picked on the farm, and tied by talented members of the families.  The professional photos are as yet under wraps, but  here is a taster from a guest.

With flowers like these it was impossible to go wrong!

 

 

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November Wedding

by The Curious Scribbler

My daughter was married last Saturday in the 18th century mirrored Music Room of nearby Nanteos mansion.  Welsh weather can be relied upon to be unreliable, but the showery day brought great clarity to the air and rich tones to the oaks and beeches of the Regency parkland beyond.   Her flowers were a blaze of burnt orange and burgundy.  Raids with the secauteurs to kind friends’ gardens  provided dark red hydrangeas, ice plant (Sedum spectabile),  Garrya elliptica, and the last few surviving  deep purple dahlias to complement commercial flowers in the floral arrangements.  The hedgerows yielded deep red hawthorn berries, sculptural ivy flowers and orange rose hips.

The bride and groom outside Nanteos

The bride and groom outside Nanteos

After dark the party moved on for dinner at the Conrah Hotel at Chancery.    For the table centrepieces we grew our own pumpkins, removed their tops and filled them with dahlias, chrysanthemums, ivy and autumn berries.  Warm white LED fairylights hung in swags around the walls, and when the music started they could be switched to twinkling mode around the dancers.

Pumpkin table centrepieces filled with flowers

Pumpkin table centrepieces filled with flowers

I wrote one of the readings for the ceremony, which was conducted with just the right mixture of solemnity and joy by the Registrar Melda Grantham.  While I hesitate to place myself with the other chosen authors, Mark Twain and Roger McGough, I reproduce it here.  I was immensely flattered that several guests felt it would come in handy at their own sons’ and daughters’ future nuptials.

On Marriage

A marriage starts with vows exchanged
And hatted, suited guests all ranged
To witness you, the gilded pair
Who shortly will descend the stair
With gleaming rings as tokens of
Your freshly burnished vows of love.

To reach this point you’ve both used skill
Negotiating good and ill
Establishing a shared existence
Through compromise and calm persistence.
A complex mixture – Life is varied –
Won’t be simpler now you’re married.

But we wish you all those things
Symbolised by giving rings.
Mutual comfort, never lonely
House or Hovel – warm and homely
Worthwhile jobs and cheerful babies
Dogs, and cats, and chickens maybe?
Holidays in sunny places
Kindly wrinkles on your faces
As the passing years progress
May you want for less and less.

Counsel often comes amiss
Proffered by parents at times like this.
But with the privilege of my station
I offer just one observation:

Happy is not a continuous state
It comes in small parcels and sometimes you wait
Through bad times and sad times or moments of strife.
Keep the happy bits coming
The whole of your life!

©The Curious Scribbler

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