David Austin’s horticulture expert selects romantic roses for his daughter’s wedding
“I’ll be in Seattle in a few weeks – for my daughter’s wedding,” Michael Marriott told me during a dinner we shared with several others at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium in Indianapolis this past August.
“She must be planning on using some of your wonderful David Austin cut roses for her bouquet, right?” I asked.
As Michael’s story unfolded, I couldn’t stop thinking about how sublimely beautiful his daughter Isabel’s wedding plans sounded. She and Dima, her fiance, were to be wed on a farm on the Kitsap Peninsula, a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle.
“Who’s going to design the flowers?” I asked, my curiosity (nosiness?) needing to be satisfied with more details.
“Oh, we’re going to make her bouquets and centerpieces ourselves, just before the wedding,” he replied.
I listened to myself volunteering, like a bee drawn to its irresistible nectar source, to help them.
Michael and his lovely wife Fran and their adorable younger daughter Poppy were going to fly to Seattle from the U.K. only a few days before the September 9th wedding, a Friday afternoon affair. I couldn’t imagine how it was all going to come together, but I wanted in!
I was so tempted to join this family endeavor – especially for the chance to work with the David Austin roses, specifically the varieties bred for the cut flower market.
And there was another reason. Over the years and on several occasions, I’ve interviewed Michael, the go-to expert for all garden media questions about the old-fashioned English rose category synonymous with his employer’s name: David Austin. It felt right to show my appreciation for all the amazing resources this grower has shared with me in the form of quotes, photographs and more. (At least that’s what I told myself. It could have been the vision of soft, ruffled layers of pastel petals swirling around my brain.)
A few days before the wedding, boxes of just-picked David Austin roses arrived at Isabel’s Seattle area apartment. They had been shipped overnight from David Austin’s U.S. grower in California. Later, I heard from Michael that Isabel had arranged for the additional flowers to come from an organic grower near the wedding site – and that the farmer would accommodate the pre-wedding bouquet-making on her farm. I’m so pleased that Isabel found Rebecca Slattery and Persephone Farm in Indianola, just a few miles from Farm Kitchen, another organic farm set up for weddings and events.
Based on choices of Isabel’s that reminded her of her parents’ garden in the U.K. - a carefree and meadowy place filled with wild-looking annuals, perennials and herbs – Rebecca harvested a breathtaking selection from her fields.
Persephone Farm is one of the oldest CSA farms on the Kitsap Peninsula, with 13 acres of orchards, growing fields and pastures. You can sign up for a CSA subscription, eat the farm’s ingredients at local restaurants on Bainbridge Island and beyond, and buy direct from the grower at the Bainbridge Farmers’ Market. You can also buy wedding flowers direct from the farm. When we were there on September 9th, wedding flower harvesting was going full speed!
With only a few hours to go before the ceremony, we had to get moving. We worked at large tables set up in a temporary fashion on sawhorses, taking advantage of the shade of the barn. Isabel’s idea was to use an eclectic mix of glass vases, which she purchased for pennies at a thrift store, to create centerpieces for the reception tables. While Michael, Fran and Poppy filled dozens of vases, I gathered the prettiest roses for the bridal bouquet and the bridesmaid’s bouquets.
The palette of roses was quite stunning, including soft, medium pink; creamy white and pale apricot. The varieties we had at Isabel’s wedding were Juliet (soft peach), Miranda (pure rose pink), Patience (buttercream-white) and Phoebe (pure rose pink) — all were wonderfully fragrant – something you rarely find in imported florist’s roses.
The annuals, herbs and perennials were as humble as the roses were elegant. Together, these two worlds of flowers created something quite romantic and breathtaking. Enjoy the display!
With all the vases, bouquets and boutonnieres packed into boxes and cushioned with newspaper, loaded into my car and Michael’s rental car, we had 90 minutes to go before the wedding. And the family had to change and get ready, too! So we made the (thankfully) short drive from Persephone Farm to Farm Kitchen, unloaded all the flowers, and took a huge sigh of relief. Time to get those kids wed! And time for me to say good-bye to the Marriott family. It was crazy, rushed and oh, so fun.
Do-it-yourself wedding flowers are more popular than ever. There are many reason for this shift, including economic ones. But more than saving money, there is something so poignant when the bride knows that the flowers she holds in her hands and uses to decorate the party tables were created by people she knows and loves. And remembering that those flowers didn’t have to travel far from where they were grown to the wedding’s destination is a bonus, too!