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Mandy’s Rustic Wedding Flowers

When illuminated by the later afternoon sun the grasses and rabbit tobacco seem to glow.

Last year my niece Mandy Brister began planning her wedding to Brandon Clark.

Mandy wanted a rustic wedding with hay bales, burlap, mason jars and vintage furniture.

I volunteered to make wildflower arrangements for the tables.

The wedding was last weekend.  My sister Jean Mann and I had fun making the arrangements but we did agree that it was stressful!

My first dilemma what that I had no time to collect flowers until the last minute.

Due to our very strange growing season, the floral pickings were very slim.  I was worried about the lack of flower color.

But then – the native grasses came to the rescue.

Guests were greeted by this rustic bouquet.

I harvested stems of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and bushy broomsedge (Andropogon glomeratus).

Then I gathered purpletop (Tridens flavus), river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) , switch grass (Panicum virgatum), Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and sugarcane plume grass (Saccharum giganteum).

These grasses provided subtle color and tons of texture.

I collected lots of goldenrod (Solidago spp.), fruiting stems of purple beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and golden narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolium).

I was delighted to find a large stand of silvery rabbit tobacco (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium).

My sister arranged this lovely display of photos and flowers.

Rabbit tobacco is an excellent filler in fresh and dried arrangements.

I used a couple of dried exotics – green clusters of Chinese abelia flowers and dried mophead hydrangeas.  The hydrangeas had been collected over the past growing season by Mandy’s aunts.

I added in some greenery from native Florida leucothoe (Agarista populifolia) and Japanese cleyera.

I then purchased 3 bunches of white florist roses to match the roses in Mandy’s bouquet.

The effect I tried to achieve was a representation of a garden gone wild.

This is one of the eight Mason jar arrangements we made for the dining tables.

All together my sister Jean Barton Mann and I assembled about 20 arrangements.

We were really grateful that Mandy’s Aunt Judy Smith and Cousin Carlee Smith came in at the last minute and added the finishing touches to the reception area.

The wedding was beautiful and I feel sure that Mandy and Brandon will be very happy together.

As I harvested flowers and grasses around my property and on the roadsides, I channeled my floral design mentor, Ralph Null.

I think Ralph has done more than just about anyone to promote the appreciation and use of native plants in Mississippi.

He taught his students to gather some of their materials from the wild or from roadside stands.

Ralph called these collected materials “roadside-us”.

He inspired the garden club ladies of Mississippi to get down in the ditches and pick local flora.  Some tired of tramping through the mud, briers and chiggers and began planting native plants for their flower arrangements.

So thanks to Ralph for teaching me to pilfer the fields and roadsides.  Thanks to my sister Jean for working so creatively with me to get those flowers in the vases and on the tables.

My problem, though, is that every time I pass a pristine stand of goldenrod, narrowleaf sunflowers or native grasses, I feel a strong urge to stop and gather.  Maybe in a couple of weeks, I can see them again as lovely wildflowers and not just as an opportunity missed.

 

 

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