Planning outdoor August wedding in Vermont Need advice

Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

I'm brand new to Dave's Garden, and haven't posted before. And maybe this is the wrong place for this question, but I didn't see a forum labeled "weddings" :-)
My daughter is getting married in late August at her brother's house, near ours. And she has asked her Dad and me to plant a flower garden as a backdrop for the ceremony. She and her fiance live in Maryland, just outside D.C., but are getting married here in Vermont. Laura would like to have flowers that are stepped up in height, maybe 6' or so in the back (sunflowers?) and gradually shorter toward the front. She would like the garden shaped in sort of a horseshoe so they can stand in the semi-circle. She's also talking about a trellis!
The space we have to work with is my son's usual vegetable garden plot. The facing side is about 30' across and it can be as deep as needed. It has full sun.
Everything has to be annuals, of course (they could have given us a few years notice! :-). Everything also have to be blossoming in Vermont in late August. We can't safely plant seeds outside here until late May in most cases (our snow isn't all gone yet).
Laura kindly informed me that, even though her colors are blue and yellow, we don't have to stick to any color format. Anything will work. Wasn't that sweet of her??
My husband and I mostly grow vegetables, plus a few perennials in the flower gardens. He is very good at it, but the planning part has us both scratching our heads.
Does anyone out there have any suggestions? We would be eternally grateful for any advice.
Thanks in advance. Genie

The Monadnock Region, NH(Zone 5a)


I'm not of the midset this morning to help answer this question. Perhaps a bit later in the day. But ... I know of a lot of folks who would LOVE to help you out. They are on the Northeast Forum.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Hi Genie,
I'm getting married in August but I'm letting the local botanical garden do all the work of growing flowers :)

At least blue and yellow are common flower colors. For the backdrop, sunflowers will grow quickly and morning glories could cover the trellis, heavenly blue and milky way would look nice together. It doesn't really stop freezing till mid-May here and we always have a jungle of volunteer sunflowers near the bird feeders by August. For smaller plants or potted accent flowers, yellow marigolds and blue lobelia. For hanging baskets, petunias are nice and last year I found a pale yellow type at the local garden shop.

Ask the employees at your local garden center (a small one with people who have been there a while, the employees at the big stores never seem to have a clue). They should be able to tell you what will bloom in August and probably have plants already started if your seeds don't perform as well as expected.

You didn't mention what the plans are for their reception, will it be at the same house? My caterer has been really receptive to the idea of letting us use local sources of meat and produce, including the farmer's market and our own garden. I'm excited that our guests will be eating tomatoes from our garden and beef from the local university farm (if all goes as planned). That might be a little more work than you want to commit yourself to, but shopping for produce at the farmer's market can yeild unusual varieties of produce that aren't available from grocery stores or wholesalers (like purple carrots or yellow tomatoes).

Best of luck on the wedding plan(t)s.

Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Thank you for your lead to the Northeast Forum! That looks like a good idea.

Congratulations on your coming marriage! I like some of your ideas for the kinds of flowers. I was thinking about putting some things in largish pots that can be moved around. The reception is going to be at my son's, also. With pots, we can move them to decorate around the tables.
We (meaning the guests) are the caterers! Laura's got lots of friends who volunteered to help, and a limited budget.
Good for you for using local products! We are great supporters of our farmer's markets. Thanks for all your suggestions.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Thanks Genie,
it sounds like Laura's wedding is going to be a lot of fun. One other annual that's kind of neat is nasturtium, because the flowers are edible. I'm thinking of using annuals in little matching pots for marking the "aisle" through the garden and then bringing them up to the building where the reception is to decorate the tables.

The Northeast forum is only available to subscsribers, so I'm afraid you won't be able to post your question over there. If you decide that Dave's is the best garden website ever ;) and subscribe, you'll find there is cat from Connecticut named Wallingford who is the king of the Nah-nahs (it's a long story). I was wondering where a cat would get a name like that.


Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Hi Janel

Wallingford is the name of a town in CT also. Interestingly enough, Wallingford VT was settled by people from W. CT, back in the 1700; thus the name. And the CT town was named for a Wallingford in England. You'd think they'd have found new names, but New England is just full of examples like that.

Yes, I saw that Northeast Forum is subscribers only. Subscribing doesnt seem to be very expensive. I'll have to think about that.

I'll have to mention the nasturtiums to Laura. That sounds like something that would appeal to her.


Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)





Lowe's Dahlias are several in a box at a very reasonable price. Short on price but not the beauty they return........for many years. A root or several could go downstream with the something new gift category. Done with care and persistance that dahlia could help celebrate the 50th. for sure.

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

I dropped by from Northeast forum. Sunflowers as a back drop is a good idea for the height, Put some tall dahlia roots in for the next level, which can give you additional yellow or other colors. you can certainly make up several large urns {The Christmas tree shop here in Mass usually has some great plastic ones that look like real terra cotta that are 14" and some that are 16" or 20" You won't be able to tell in the wedding pictures that they are not! Plant those up with annuals that you get from the garden center so you have a head start. You can use delphinium for the blue or some nice blue salvia for height, dahlias or large snapdragons for the yellow contrast, buy a bunch of blue and yellow pansies now and keep them picked off until August and they can be not only the low part of your containers, but also you can make up smaller pots of them for the buffet tables or the guest tables. You will have to keep after them to keep them looking nice through the summer. But you will get gorgeous blue and yellow if you shop now. They would make up nice in a plastic flower box. You could keep them closer to your house or in a shadier spot so they don't get burnt by late summer heat and be easier to keep an eye on and pick back. Garden centers are starting to bring pansies out around here and you can get large flats of one color so you can mix them in your design.
If you or your friends have tall house plants, they can be interspersed in the garden bed for height at the back or for green accent. or even in front of the trellis in the aforementioned decorative large pots. For instance, i have five or six medium sized hibiscus that go out for the summer. They would be shiny and green and fully leafed out by then and might even have flowers on! who knows? But you definitely can put your houseplants in the mix for the day. You can stand them on plant stands to get the height or overturned empty pots.
I don't think everything in the garden has to be blue and yellow but if you have some distinctive items as accents you should be fine with ordinary colors to fill in. you can mass colors of a few species, too.
Don't forget zinnias, nasturtiums, marigolds {the tall ones}, for your yellow shades. Check out people's on-line seed catalogs to get an idea of the seeds available if you want to go that route.
Sounds like a beautiful, if ambitious, idea!

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

I almost forgot. Pot up two large blue hostas of some sort. they would be nice framing the trellis, one on either side. put them in now or soon and they will be huge by august. Home depot or Lowes should have some the right size.

Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Thank you so much, everyone, for the wonderful ideas!!
My husband loves dahlias, and would agree about using them!

I will have to check with my friends to see if any of them have large houseplants they might lend us. that would be a good idea.
Martha, thanks so much for all those suggestions! I hadnt thought of things like hostas at all. The garden shops up here will be opening up pretty soon... I can hardly wait to start looking!

Thanks again!

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

Oh, and pray for sunshine on the day!!!

Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Oh, yes! Believe me... I've got everybody I know praying for sunshine on August 23rd!

S of Lake Ontario, NY(Zone 6a)

Hi Genie
My niece is getting married mid July, so I am planning to add a lot of red to my sisters yard. I don't usually plant annuals either, so I got some help from the NE'ers.

good luck and happy planting!

Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Thanks for the encouragement! The more I think about this, the more daunting it gets (not just the flowers).
I slipped over to the NE board, and after realizing I couldnt read the replies, decided it would be worth it to pay for a subscription. So you'll probably see my cries for help over there sometime :-)

S of Lake Ontario, NY(Zone 6a)

Oh great, not your cries, but subscribing!! They are a helpful bunch.
Mostly what I did was wander thru seed stores before the nurseries were open, and then the nursery aisles for ideas.

Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

Genie, Welcome to Dave's!!

There is also a forum devoted to annuals. I must say that I love the suggestions that you've already gotten, especially the idea about pots. Planting lots of your things in pots would give you amazing flexibility. I am such a visual type person that I literally need to see it before I'm completely sold on an idea, lol!
Also, you could have extra things on hand in case you find a 'hole' in your design when it gets put together. And, as all gardeners know, if something doesn't perform as expected, you'll have backup.

Wonderful you! What a nice gift to your daughter to be willing to take this on:-)

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

Welcome, Genie!
You do know that now you are a member, you will have to post pictures of the wedding venue once the day is here. You can put in one of the bride and groom but we all want to see the eventual garden! Martha

Fitchburg, MA

I got married in Richmond, VT in June of last year!

I like the sunflower idea, you will have trouble locating or trying to get plants that can flower in such a short time that are around 6' tall. The standards like Hollyhock and Delphinium's LOVE Vermont (colder is better) but they don't flower the first year (I've had luck with Delph's here flowering the first year but they're picky and expensive for the 5-6' varieties). So they're out.

That leaves pretty much sunflowers as the only things that will likely grow around 5-6' and bloom in time but let me warn you a few things about sunflower.

1.) Many sunflowers are 'heliotropic', that means they track the sun. Sunflower buds start with their flowers facing east, and as the sun moves to the west their flowers move to track it and then face east again. However, as the sunflower blossoms the stem hardens and eventually will face in a fixed eastwardly direction and no longer move. Not all sunflowers are that way, wild sunflowers their flowers go in all directions. Doing the sunflower route, when mature the flowers should face eastwardly.

2.) Sunflowers release phytotoxins into the soil around them. The sunflower is not affected by it, but it inhibits other plants in the areas germination, seedling growth, and crop yields. It's the sunflowers form of "outcompeting" other plants. Something to consider if trying to grow plants at the base of the sunflower. Also, if they want to turn this back into a vegetable garden they should dig out the sunflowers including the dirt around the roots because of the phytotoxins and swap it with dirt from another area of the property... that will significantly reduce any residual phytotoxins, the dirt with the sunflower can than be put in an obscure area and left to a couple years for the phytotoxins to deteriorate.

3.) The kind you grow must NOT BE FOUND IN BIRD FEED!!! An example is "Mammoth" Sunflower. That's a major make-up of bird feed. When I tried planting Mammoths, then another type next to it, then a Mammoth, then another type, right down a row the very next day every seed of ONLY the Mammoth sunflower had been individually dug up and eaten by most likely a squirrel, the other types left untouched.

a.) I thought I'd outsmart them and start Mammoth sunflowers in pots inside. I put them out when they reached 3" tall and next day all mammoth sprouts had been eaten to the ground.

b.) I started them indoors again until they were 3' tall. The strength of the sunflower stem is directly proportional to how much sunlight they get. You have to grow them in full sunlight else their stems grow as thin as a pencil and too weak. After reaching a foot or more in the little sunlight of my window all the stems were as thin as spaghetti and broke/flopped.

c.) I planted them outdoors and completely covered them in wire fencing (even tops) until they started to flower then I removed the fencing. Next day found out a critter had bitten off ALL the flower heads and they were laying on the ground.

Stay away from any sunflower seeds found in birdseed.

The other plant I recommend are Zinnia, which are pink/magenta/orange. But, around late August/October around here they tend to get covered with powdery mildew.

Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Hi Martha
Thank you for the welcome! I thought you'd like to see what I'm starting with. The slightly darker muddy area is where the garden will be. I think the trellis will be in the corner where the sandbox is. (Sandbox and child must be relocated---grandkids probably wont like that). Hopefully there will be much improvement as the summer goes on.
Hope I did the picture right.

Thumbnail by genie1020
Tinmouth, VT(Zone 4b)

Hi Marshmallow
Congratulations on your marriage!
Thanks for all the info about the sunflowers! Wow! I didnt know most of that. Especially the part about the toxins in the soil. I'd never heard that. My DH and I will have to talk about it...I dont want this garden to fail!
We are leaning toward zinnias also, and dahlias. My DH has some wonderful dahlia bulbs he puts in every year.
Thanks again.

S of Lake Ontario, NY(Zone 6a)

Great sunflower info, I didn't know that either.

Plano, TX

my sons wedding had lots of big potted mums--they were the wedding colors and were beautiful---don't know if august is too early for mums

Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

Put the sunflowers in the big pots. That way it will keep your garden bed free of the anti growth stuff they put out. also, if your pots are pretty pedestrian looking, there is always white tulle and ribbon in the wedding colors to dress them up.
My nephew is getting married in November in Denver. We'll be lucky if there isn't a blizzard.

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Choose the right Wedding Planner is the one who will help you to reduce the problems that you lean to face while planning your wedding. While preparing for your wedding you tend to worry about the wedding arrangements the execution of your wedding plan and much more are a common stress.

This message was edited May 3, 2017 5:23 AM

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