Wednesday, February 23, 2011

wedding planning

January and February seem to be busy planning months for folks who want to have a summer wedding on Mayne Island.  I've been receiving a few requests about flowers for weddings so I thought it would be a nice idea to post some photos and a bit of info for those who're interested in finding out about having some wedding flowers from Christina's Garden.
I focus on using beautiful Mayne Island garden flowers and foliage, grown naturally, in season!

Here's a bouquet waiting for the bride in it's vase.  A June wedding: peonies, roses, cockscomb celosia, white dill, lady's mantle, grasses,  stems wrapped in pretty green satin ribbon.....and here it is in action....

We deliver the bride's and bridesmaid's bouquets in glass vases to the bridal party's starting point.  All the corsages and boutonnieres are also delivered to wherever the client would like.

Many couples choose to have their Mayne Island ceremony on the grounds of the lighthouse alongside the beautiful view of Active Pass.  To help create the spot for their ceremony, this bride chose classical style urns planted with ornamental grasses, stuffed with cut flowers.  Pink and red rose petals from my garden sprinkled on the grass.  I have some contemporary style planters and containers available for those who prefer a more modern feel.  I also have other decorative ideas and things to help define the space, and am happy to consider any other ideas, just ask.  Here's a long view.....what a beautiful day for a wedding!

We deliver all urns, containers and arrangements to the ceremony and reception locations and in this case, we picked up the urns from the lighthouse after the ceremony and took them to the reception to decorate the spot there....double duty!

This bride liked the idea of a big bundle of cosmos flowers from the garden for her bouquet.  I like that idea too.  So joyful.  This is a late summer wedding.  Groom's boutonniere: cedar, hydrangea, echinacea, hops, all from my garden....

I love doing all the table centerpieces too.  This was an outdoor wedding at a private home on Mayne Island.  A quick snapshot I took and you can hardly see the centerpieces, but you get the idea....they looked great up close in real life!  Mid and late summer has lots of dahlias and zinnias in the garden.  They make a happy, colourful table centerpiece!

The vases can be rented and returned to me after the flowers are spent or some couples choose to buy the vases and give the arrangements away to their wedding guests.  They're so fresh and will stay nice for another week after the wedding fun.

Some arrangements sitting in my outdoor workshop, waiting for delivery.  
These were going to decorate the home of the parents of the groom of this wedding.  They live here on Mayne Island.  Many couples have their reception at the Community Center and I've done some nice arrangements to decorate that space for the festivities.  Unfortunately no pictures.  It looks like I'm often too busy with the flowers on wedding days to be taking photos but I see that I really must take some more snapshots this year so I have more images to show....
If you think you might like me to create your wedding flowers for you, email me or give me a call for lots more info.  Happy planning!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Seedy Saturday

I couldn't get to Saltspring Island's Seedy Saturday last weekend but I did get to Seedy Saturday in Victoria yesterday.  It was buzzing with many people are interested in growing gardens these days!

Look at the folks checking out the seed swap table yesterday.  The idea of everyone bringing some of their own saved seeds from their gardens and trading with each other is central to the original idea of Seedy Saturday.  The first Seedy Saturday was held in Vancouver about 20 years ago and now communities across Canada have joined in on the fun.  Nowadays, there are many more small farms and businesses saving and selling seeds and yesterday's event had quite a few local businesses and groups displaying ideas and wares as well as seeds.  Everyone is so happy to share information and it's a great place to go if you want to learn some new things about growing your own and more.

All the good stuff I found!  Seeds from some of the exhibitors,  there were many more but I couldn't get very close to see what was at their display, it was so busy.  A few I bought seeds from have websites with some good info: Stellar Seeds,  Two Wings Farm,  Full Circle Seeds.
And check out those funny looking orange knobby things in the upper right hand corner!  Here's a close up view:
They are New Zealand Yams, also called "Oca".  I've never seen them before and I'm excited to try growing them this year...and eating them!  They were for sale at the Seeds of Victoria display.  I'm going to plant them in a big container right away to get them started.

Seedy Saturday also features a nice selection of guest speakers.  I managed to get to one talk before I had to rush off to catch the ferry boat back home.  It was by Christina Nikolic, entitled "May All Be Fed: Healthy Plants start with Good Soil".  I really enjoyed it.  One idea I took away from it that I really like is that although NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) is important for fertile soil and healthy plants, the 3 Ms are just as important, if not more....(Mulch, Moisture, Microbes)
Christina has a website, The Organic Gardener's Pantry.  Here's a link to the February newsletter about compost.....interesting!
Vancouver's Seedy Saturday is next weekend, Feb 26 at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

golden hops vine

What would I ever do without my golden hops vine? I just love it.
First of all, it looks beautiful, fresh and bright climbing along the fence.  Here's a photo I took a few years ago of my first ever Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'.
This photo made me think of the old rhyme about what you can expect when planting a perennial vine in the garden: "The first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap." So I checked my dates and this photo was taken in June of this happy specimen's second year. So you can imagine how big it gets nowadays! In the spring, it can grow up to 6 inches a day! probably about 30 feet long, maybe more. It's amazing.

So back to all the reasons why I love this plant. I think it's absolutely beautiful in floral arrangements, almost all year 'round. This one is a late summer wild and natural pink zinnia arrangement I did for a wedding reception a couple years ago. In the late summer and early fall, the decorative strobiles (papery, cone-like flowers) form. I used them here, hanging them all around the bottom of this bouquet's vase.

I love using hops in boutonnieres too. They go really well with a little Mayne Island cedar, some rosemary and hydrangea and an echinacea seed head.

At this time of the year, my hops vines look like this. I took this photo a couple days ago as I was tidying up last year's dried up vines and flowers. This is my second ever hops vine that I started from cuttings I took from my first ever hops vine. Quite decorative in the winter too, I think, in a completely different way....

Some dried hops flowers hanging along the fence in the winter time. If you pick these in the summer and rub them between your hands they release a pleasant, earthy scent and are a bit sticky. One year, I hope to harvest some of these and make some dream pillows.

So on Tuesday when I was tidying and removing some of the dried vines, I set aside a pile and made some wreath forms with them.  I've done this for the last 2 or 3 years now and it looks like it's becoming a yearly thing.  This is yet another reason why I love having this plant in the garden.  The vines, especially when wet from rain are like a strong twine and can be used to tie the whole thing together.  They got me thinking about natural twines and how people way back when made twine of hemp.  So I looked it up and found this page.   (Phoenix Perennials, by the way, is one of my favourite places to browse plants when I'm on the mainland, but that's another story.)
Anyway, look what it says at the top.  Family: Cannabaceae (The Hemp Family)  I didn't know that!  You learn something new everyday.  I wonder if someone somewhere ever made twine of hops...and come to think of it, the leaves have a bit of a hemp-like look to them too.

A trio of wreath forms.   Endless possibilities for these.
You can make them neat and tidy or a little more loose and free form.  And the year 'round possibilities of greenery, plant material, flowers, berries, mosses, lichen, etc, etc. with which to decorate are also endless!

When I cleaned up around the base of the plant, I found some new shoots already emerging.  These do seem to show up early every year.  I've read somewhere that they're edible and people eat them like asparagus. I must try that sometime soon....perhaps yet another reason to love this plant?  We'll see.

These vines send out quite a few new runners every year and this is the time to find and lift all the new roots and shoots.  I snip them into pieces and plant them into nice big pots with lots of room for the roots to develop over the summer.  (this is also a reason why I love this plant, it just keeps on giving)

This year I'll do about 20 pots and the new plants will be ready for sale in the fall for planting out next October through March.  If you live in these parts and you'd like a lovely rambling vine for a fence or wall that you can use in flower bouquets or add to homemade herbal tea or make dream pillows with or make wreath forms out of....let me know and I'll put your name on one.

A quickly decorated wreath I made with some lichen and moss I gathered on my walk up to the garden one day. Seasonal wreaths and wreath forms are also available for purchase at the garden from time to time.

Hail today!

Unusual weather at our place today. Sunny with periods of hail this morning! Now the sky's all dark and grey again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

...must be time to plant the spinach and the sugar snap peas outside. Oh my!

Friday, February 11, 2011

signs of spring

The ornamental cherry tree is beginning to bloom. One of my favourite signs of spring. Such a beautiful frilly pink colour! When this tree blooms, I know it's really time to get busy starting my seeds for the summer garden. So I better go to the greenhouse and get busy......but first, maybe I'll give the tree a wee pruning and cut a few branches to bring inside for a simple joyful little Springtime-is-here! bouquet.....

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Today I was busy with planting and harvesting shoots and greens and delivering them to various spots around the island.
Then I picked up another load of big heavy bags of seed from the post office. Mostly seeds for pea shoots, sunflower shoots and various microgreens, about 150lbs. of them.
I'm glad that I've found a supplier who carries certified organic seeds that I can use for all of my shoots and microgreens. I keep the seeds in metal bins so I can easily scoop them into bowls for soaking before they're planted in their trays.

This is the time of year when all gardeners are thinking about seeds.
We're going through our collections of packets from previous years and ordering new seeds with our hearts and minds filled up with aspirations of beautiful new veggies we've never tried before or maybe we're hoping to be more successful than last year with whatever we were trying to achieve....

But I've had a hard time ordering my seeds this year.
This talks a bit about what has me losing my enthusiasm. Especially interesting to home gardeners on this webpage is the link that talks about Monsanto owning about 40% of the home vegetable seed market. Bye bye Big Beef tomato, so long, Red Sails lettuce.....

Monsanto, Roundup and genetically modified seeds involve a complex combination of issues.
But with the USDA just approving GE alfalfa and GE sugar beets and the Bill C-474 debate happening in Canada, it seems like it's time to really start understanding what's going on. Since genetically engineered seed for big industrial food crops like corn and soybeans are intimately linked to the herbicide that Monsanto calls Roundup and since many of us still use Roundup, especially on our pathways and driveways....(Oh how I've wished that I could use it in those nasty cracks between the sandstone)...but I will not give in!...especially now that I've read this article.

If you want more reading on this topic The Organic Seed Alliance website is full of good stuff. (go to their blog too)

Lucky for me in my garden, my enthusiasm will be restored by the many seed companies that are now focussing on heritage and heirloom, organic and open-pollinated seed like this one that's located in my neck of the woods.