by Terry Kramer


Two years ago Bayside resident Lynn Wells took all the hard work she has put into her three-acre yard overlooking Jacoby Creek and created a special place for two garden weddings. Because she loves gardening and has her yard already filled with roses, perennials and an abundance of shrubbery, she had a big head start.


"One of the reasons one of the couples chose this place was they came to a party and saw the garden in its normal condition and just fell in love with it," she said.

In most cases, producing a garden wedding at home is a project that requires planning if you wish to have success without added tension. Professional gardener Janet Czarnecki, who once even produced a January garden wedding for a client, suggests planning up to six months in advance.

"Because weddings are so crazy it is good to take care of the things you can take care of a few months before instead of the week before. It means sitting down and looking at when the wedding is going to be, and then counting backwards," she said.

Czarnecki advises devising a plan and putting it on paper. Take care of all pruning, weeding and cleanup chores three months prior to the event. If you intend to plant annuals for flower color, she suggests planting 12 to 16 weeks in advance.

"A garden is alive. It's not something static; it is always growing and changing. That is why having a plan and starting early is crucial," she said.

Wells planned the weddings in her yard in May and late July. "The May wedding wasn't something I had to do a lot of preplanning for. At that time of year everything was looking good. The roses were blooming and the only thing I had to do, of course, was to have it look as good as it could. Fill in the empty spots with color. Things are really lush at that time of the year anyway," she said.

For the July wedding Wells' perennial garden required a bit more effort.

"It's harder to have the garden looking nice in July. So as soon as the May wedding was over I hacked everything back. I just ruthlessly cut back the perennials like artemisia, feverfew, nepeta," she said. After clipping back all perennials Wells watered and fertilized the garden routinely so that when the July wedding rolled around everything was in top shape.

Combining annuals and perennials in a garden can make summer weddings easier to plan, according to Czarnecki. "You have lots and lots of choices the later you go into the summer."

The list of possibilities is extensive: alstroemeria, alyssum, Japanese anemones, borage, bachelor buttons cineraria, chrysanthemums, coreopsis, dahlias, delphiniums, erigeron, feverfew, forget-me-nots, geraniums, gladiolus, godetia, hollyhocks, hydrangeas, impatiens, johnny jump ups, larkspur, lavatera, lavender, linaria, lobelia, marigolds, montbretia, nemesia, nicotiana, penstemon, petunias, salvia, salpiglossis, scabiosa, snapdragons, statice, stock and zinnias.

Planning in advance also saves money when purchasing plants. "One thing you can do is buy plants small, in six packs, and put them in three months ahead. They will be blooming when the wedding happens," Czarnecki said.

Using annuals in the garden is also a good way to compliment the wedding with special colors. "You need to ask what their (the couple's) wedding colors are because a lot of times in a wedding, particularly in the summer, you can plan so that the annuals go with the colors of the wedding," Wells explained.

In addition to getting the yard in shape, Wells suggests informing the neighbors about the wedding.

"We let the neighbors know ahead of time that there would be a wedding so they would not be alarmed about traffic and wonder what was going on. Neighbors let us use their field and we put a sign there for parking. Besides, if you are going to have a garden wedding you don't necessarily want a lot of cars pulling into your yard much because you want the place to be peaceful and lovely," she explained.

Wells found the experience of producing a garden wedding most rewarding.

"It is such a positive experience. Everybody is so happy and there are children and old people and it is a wonderful, wonderful experience. And in terms of preparing the yard, it is exciting because if you are really into gardening, you don't really do much more than usual except that you do it a little better and get it neater," she said.

Both Wells and Czarnecki suggest seeking professional help if gardening is not your passion. "If you are not into the gardening aspect of it I would definitely seek the help of a professional gardener," Wells said.

Czarnecki agreed. "A professional gardener can come up with a written plan, task by task, month by month. They can give you a map of what to do and when."

Terry Kramer is a Bayside free-lance writer and owner of Jacoby Creek Nursery.

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