Garden Design

A Garden Wedding, the Flowers, and the Deer

Today we’re in the Ozarks, visiting with Susan Esche.

A dear cousin was having difficulty finding a wedding venue for early October this year.

beautiful pavilionWe have a beautiful pavilion suitable for hosting a crowd, but early October is not usually the best time of year for my garden. It is a little early for the asters, a little late for the goldenrod, and the hydrangeas, like the gardener, are a bit tired. Determined to have the place pretty on the day, I started in May planting pots of little annuals, bulbs, and ferns. It was a hot, dry summer, which brought the local deer out in droves, and that complicated the plant care.

Florida fernWe used a lot of ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata, Zones 9–11 or as an annual or houseplant). I bought the first batch in May, intending to grow them to full, fluffy glory over the summer, but they were decimated by Florida fern caterpillars while I was away on a short trip, and so they had to be replaced.

garden mumsThe hardy garden mums (Chrysanthemum, hardiness differs by variety) planted in-ground the year before were lovely, but the starts that I purchased that spring to grow out for the wedding bloomed too late to be pretty on the day, so I made several trips back to the garden center for white mums as the event date grew closer.

PlumbagoThe wedding colors were white and blue. Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata, Zones 8–11 or as an annual) proved to be a sturdy and deer-resistant addition to the containers.

The white dahlias (Dahlia variabilis, Zones 8–10 or as tender bulbs) were showy, but an absolute magnet to the deer. I kept them inside the fenced vegetable garden most of the summer and then stacked lawn chairs around their pots until the morning of the wedding.

White lantana (Lantana camara, Zones 8–11 or as an annual) was a life-saver! It grew full and lush over the hot summer and was ignored by the deer.

A draping of purple hyacinth beanMy fenced veggie garden is functional but not a thing of beauty in October. A draping of purple hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus, Zones 10–11 or as annual) planted on the pavilion side distracted from the tomato cages.

MarigoldsThe pots were planted up for wedding decor in early summer. Marigolds (Tagetes, annual) quickly succumbed to mildew, but the lantana and artemisia (Artemisia stelleriana, Zones 5–10, often grown as an annual) saved the day.

big castor bean plantEvery inch of the garden was pressed into service. Who knew that big castor bean plant (Ricinus communis, Zones 9–11 or as an annual) would come in handy to shade the Port-a-Johns?

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