Brides are all different. Some know what they want, others need a little more guidance, but some have a creative vision. Jessica was one of those brides. She and her mother came to me with the boldest theme I’ve encountered yet – burgundy, gold and deep purple. When they told me those colors, my eyes got big and I just said, “Oooooooh!”
I seriously contemplated putting on my wedding dress just to hold the bridal bouquet (the above photo is the toss bouquet).
This has been one of the sunniest, hottest Alaska summers I can ever remember. When I woke up and saw low clouds on the Chugach mountains I was looking forward to a cooler day.
My mom and I wasted no time and drove up to Glen Alps to check on the blueberries. Due to the warm weather we were giddy to find the berries plentiful and pretty much ripe.
We picked about two quarts in less than an hour and also picked up a few prize boletes that must have popped up overnight.
After dropping off our loot we packed up our truck and headed toward Wasilla to Alaska Blooms Peony Farm. I had visited a few weeks prior when the peonies were mostly closed but today the sun decided to take center stage and the peonies were bursting with color and perfume. I shed a layer of clothing and set to work.
Sixteen students arrived for crown instructions, cookies and mimosas. It was a joy to incorporate peonies that were grown right where we were having the class.
My students ranged greatly in age, but everyone enjoyed themselves. Each crown was so lovely in its own way!
After the class the students took a tour of the farm. Farm owner, Rachel, brought out a bucket full of pink peonies in full bloom and students bought stems wrapped in newspaper.
My day came full circle by dining on my parents’ deck in the sun and digging into a big slice of blueberry pie.
Every wedding I make flowers for has a different style and Dianne and Matthew’s Wasilla wedding is one of the most unique this year.
Dianne wanted jewel tones of amethyst and peridot. She adores orchids, which I learned can be limited in color and style in Alaska. I packed her bouquet with fuchsia orchid, purple lisianthus, white roses, baby’s breath, trailing amaranthus, traipsing plumosa fern, sword fern and Italian ruscus.
When my husband and I got married in July 2007 purchasing peonies wasn’t an option. They were out of season. But I remember gardens all over Anchorage with gorgeous peonies in July and August. I ended up using someone’s garden peonies for my own bouquet.
It wasn’t until August 2013 when I was leafing through an Alaska Airlines Magazine that I learned how unique Alaska peonies really are.
Peony farms have since sprouted up all over the state from Nenana to Homer to Wasilla and have cornered the global peony market from mid to late summer.
I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of Alaska Blooms Peony Farm and learn about these special flowers from owner Rachel Christy.
My son and I embarked on a rainy Sunday outside the city of Wasilla to a cabin where thousands of peony buds were growing in the front lot.
Last year my knitting friend Lina asked if I would design the flowers for her wedding. When she described the colors she wanted there was no way I could say no. She envisioned a wild, rainbow bouquet.
I created a slightly unkempt bouquet of peonies (from her own garden), Japanese asters, mini sunflowers, green trick dianthus, bupleurum, gerber daisies, spray roses, wild daisies, wild grass cattails and wild yarrow.
Lina had saved pussy willow branches from the spring, which I used on the boutonnières.
Billy balls are the perfect accompaniment to fuchsia spray roses and iridescent fuchsia ribbon gave everything a polished look with great pops of color.
Because the bride selected so many types of flowers I was left with an excess of product. I decided to make flower crowns for her daughter and niece who were flower girls. My mother models it here.
I had yet even more product, including a full peony (no way I was wasting that!) so I created a draping arrangement in an antique orange vase, which I left on the dining table in the wedding party’s bed and breakfast.
Pink, fuchsia, orange, green, purple and yellow — a magical array of color for a perfect summer day.