On Stick Support

Hofley-Cueter Wedding

Fall weddings are not the norm for me; in addition, this request came from from gardening friends and colleagues.   Jonathon Hofley, publisher of the well-known magazine The Michigan Gardener, and owner of Motor City Publishing, and his part-time art director and full-time firebrand fiancee Celeste were to be married.  I instantly started fretting about what all from the garden would not be available for their date, but I need not have worried.  Lucky for me, they liked the idea of sticks, grasses, mosses, vines and seeds-in season. Framing the doors of the church,  starkly bare beech trees are set in pots finished in mood moss.  These trees supported a smattering of white roses, visible from far away. 

Hofley-Cueter Wedding (14)This gorgeous Melkite Catholic church needed little in the way of decoration; the beautifully vaulted white-walled interior was formally appointed with iconographic paintings of figures central to their faith.  I found four 3″ beech that had not survived the season in my landscape supplier’s bone yard; they would be destined for another kind of life.  Bare grapevine garland would be dressed up with bitterweet vine and the rose “Hollywood”.  No other white rose opens so beautifully, and stays fresh longer, out of water.  The pews we marked simply with  sprays of grasses with seed heads intact, to which we added orange and white roses.   The dressy olive green double faced satin formally acknowledged the space, and the occasion. 

Hofley-Cueter Wedding (2)Even the bride’s bouquet included delicate birch branches.  Variegated miscanthus grass and hosta complimented the orange freesia, ranunculus and roses. The bare stems were dressed in braided satin ribbon; the contrast in materials is particularly lovely. 

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Shades of red, orange and white came primarily from roses; the season for garden flowers had passed.  Always with flowers for a wedding reception is the crucial issue of placement.  Flowers that obstruct the view across the table are unfriendly to conversation between guests.  As reception venues are rarely personal, its important to create a mood and aura specific to the occasion that is evident upon entering the room. That first impression is important.  How the airspace is handled creates an overall impression of happy anticipation at eye level for the celebration to come.  

Hofley Wedding 05 (42)Stout bundles of willow sticks get my flowers in the air.  The rustic fiber pots filled with hemp fiber make an unmistakable reference to the garden.  The metal pole set in concrete not seen here is an apparatus which keeps the flowers aloft securely.

Hofley Wedding 05 (14)The generic quality of the room fades away; what is left is a celebration of saturated fall color, and a very important event involving family and friends.  The tabletop level decor has interest and presence which will please the eye, but not obstruct anyone’s view.

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Bar tops were simply decorated with clusters of roses fruits and vegetables.  Peppers and peaches take on an entirely different aspect, out of the garden or the kitchen. The ability to visualize materials out of context can expand your decorating repertoire. Orange bell peppers are not only delicious, they are strikingly attractive.

Hofley Wedding 1005 (3)Celeste provided the table numbers, the calligraphy of her own hand. Large pieces of mood moss, when grooved, made naturally beautiful stands.  The fresh green acorns-another nod to the season. 

Hofley Wedding 05 (53)The effect of these flowers is so enhanced by the company of a length of bittersweet vine.  The vine creates a visual context for the flowers. The creation of a visual world complete and believable is a daily challenge in the store;  important events demand this too.

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It is hard to go wrong with flowers-no one disputes how beautiful they are in their own right.  But the support from the sticks enabled me to generate some atmosphere.

Allie,Snoopy,and Vladdy

Lerner 48As my clients were bound and determined that Allie, Snoopy and Vladdy would be members of their wedding party, their choices for a wedding venue were slim to none.  I was happy for them to get married at the shop, and equally happy to welcome the canine members of their family.  Since the decision was made some six months prior to the ceremony, I had the chance to plan a garden that would look great on their late, late summer date.   

Lerner 55A copper pergola would provide the chuppah necessary for the ceremony.  We infilled the poles at each corner with birch bark tubes.  This blue and white scheme dictated the selection of plants as much as the season would.  A collection of Italian cypress, giant rosemary topiaries, kales and cabbages would look swell come wedding time.  Luckily a local grower has a very late batch of sunflowers, including the ultra double “teddy bear”.  That intense yellow would warm up the arbor in a happy and sunny way.  A goldenrod garland casually draped over the chuppah provided the roof necessary for the ceremony.

Lerner 58Silver dichondra has a distinctly blue cast; its diminuitive felted leaves were a great contrast to the giant blistered kale, “Nero di Toscano”. Short blue foliaged fescues, white million bells and showy oregano made good companions for the massive cabbages.  White iron urns showed off the long tails of dichondra to good advantage.

Lerner 60As the ceremony required a table be available for the Rabbi, my clients chose a carved concrete faux bois piece whose legs were carved and acid stained to look like birch. The wedding party flowers in lime green, white, and lavender repeated the color scheme of the garden.  Is that old rosemary topiary not a dream come true?

Lerner11The plan for the reception involved nine 8′ long tables set end to end in the drive.  Small glass vases covered in short birch bark tubes held late summer garden flowers available from the growers at my local farmer’s market. These 45 small arrangements centered on the tables would run for the entire 72 foot long reception dinner table.

Lerner30Allie and Snoopy were nervous, but they did take their big lime green satin bow and flower collars in stride. They did mill around-but just a little bit.  All in all they were very well behaved.

Lerner31Vladdy was ordinarily fairly dignified and unflappable; he sat calmly through the entire ceremony. 

Lerner33It was a beautiful wedding, and I was happy to have a part in it.  There is something so satisfying about a small ceremony for everyone involved. When there are but a few details, every detail can be very personal and thoughtful.  I think they were so pleased to be able to have their dog family there that day.

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I have no pictures of the reception.  I was a guest, and I participated rather than recorded.  But the next day the flowers from the evening before were everywhere-a reminder of what a happy place the garden here had been everyone in attendance.