Saturday 21 September 2019

Something bold, something you

Add the ultimate personal touch to your wedding by growing your own bouquet

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Stock image

Diarmuid Gavin

I’ve been enjoying the scent of mimosa, viburnum and sweet box over the past few weeks, from spits taken from the garden and placed in vases — their smell intensifying when trapped indoors. And it’s made me think that Irish gardeners could even grow their own flowers for a winter wedding.

Over the past decade a huge industry has grown up around home-grown flowers for weddings and other occasions. And by home-grown I mean gardeners turning into farmers, commandeering some land, building polytunnels and growing crops of flowers, from dahlias to chrysanthemums, sweet pea, tulips, lilies and many more.

A premium can be achieved by Irish growers who offer home-grown blossoms. And whether you plan ahead and grow them in your garden or commission them from a florist farmer, it’s easier than ever to have a home-grown wedding!

So, if you decide to do the digging, what are your easy-to-grow choices? Top of any list comes sweet pea. It’s a plant that responds to its flowers being harvested by producing more and more! It has a wonderful fragrance and is easy to grow. This is a job you can start straight away by sowing seeds. You can sow earlier in autumn which will give your flowers a head start but now is a good time as well.

If you don’t have the space or capacity to grow from seed, purchase seedlings in spring. It’s a good idea to succession sow to give you a longer picking season.

Lilies are dramatic and beautiful and make excellent cut flowers. Again, you could have planted these in the autumn but spring will be fine too. They don’t like sitting in heavy wet soil so if your soil is unsuitable, plant in pots. You can sink these pots into your borders if you like and lift before the winter to keep dry. Whether in soil or pots, it’s good idea to sprinkle some horticultural grit at the base of the bulb to help keep them dry. Lily bulbs are big and should be planted deep — they need at least six inches of soil over them. They are very popular wedding flowers but they have one drawback — their pollen can stain beautiful gowns! So, to avoid disaster on the big day, after cutting, remove the anthers covered in the orange pollen. has a lovely collection of scented lilies chosen to give you a succession of beautiful flowers which will fill the church, wedding venue or, indeed, your garden with delicious fragrant scent for weeks on end. The parade starts with Lilium regale, one of the most famously perfect lilies. This is followed by the pure-white, huge-flowered and highly fragrant, Lily ‘Casa Blanca’ finishing with the spectacular Lily ‘Muscadet’.

If you would like to commission Irish-grown wedding flowers a great resource is the  Flower Farmers of Ireland association (, whose members can be found all around the country, some of whom are mentioned below. 

The Burren Flower Farm in Co Clare is owned by Sarah Wall. Located in the west of Ireland, the Burren region is renowned as a botanical paradise with a unique and abundant mix of native wildflowers. Sarah describes her styles of arrangements as being characterised by colour, texture and a certain wildness and is heavily influenced by her natural surroundings. With an 18-acre property of mixed habitats, limestone pavement, mixed native woodland, turlough and meadows, Sarah is surrounded by an abundance of wild material and inspiration. Her Flower Farm specialises in weddings where a natural, wildflower look is preferred, and where the client wants to know that they are choosing a local and ecologically sustainable option. (Contact

Ruth Fortune has been growing flowers commercially in Glandore Village in west Cork since 2013. Previously an architect, her design skills still come in handy for making large floral installations or tiny buttonholes. She uses the freshest of home-grown flowers together with herbs, grasses and wild and cultivated greenery to make her wonderful arrangements. Her bouquets can be found at the Skibbereen Farmers’ Market every Saturday from March to October. (Contact

The Wild Bunch is a cut-flower garden in Kilkenny, offering seasonal, home-grown blooms to flower-lovers and wedding couples. They grow bulbs, perennials, annuals and shrubs from seed and forage from hedgerows and woodlands. From forget-me-nots, cherry blossom and foxgloves in spring, to sweet peas, roses and dahlias later, the resulting arrangements reflect both the season and the beauty of the natural environment, with all the colour, scent and character that goes with it. The Kilkenny team work with wedding planners to select, plan and create flowers which compliment any theme chosen for the special occasion. The flowers are picked the evening before the wedding day, making them as fresh as can be. They happily travel, and work at venues around Ireland, and particularly around Dublin and the South-East. (Contact

Top Tip

Remember — the availability of certain beautiful Irish wedding blossoms may be restricted to the growing season of April to September, so choose your flowers accordingly.

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