Helping friend grow flowers for wedding was worthwhile project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Several years ago I lived next door to a wonderful gardening friend. We talked about plants, visited local nurseries and gardened together whenever we had free time.

After a few years of getting to know one another through gardening, my friend excitedly informed me that her boyfriend asked for her hand in marriage the evening before. They immediately began planning a wedding for the following April.

&uot;Wouldn’t it be great if you and I could grow all the flowers for my wedding?&uot; Natalie asked. That question/suggestion was all it took for us to embark on a real gardening adventure. Calendulas and tall sweet William came to mind instantly. We would sow larkspur and sweet pea seed for colorful flower arrangements. Pansies and violas could be used for tiny vases at each place setting for the reception.

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Natalie’s father was a clothing designer and spent a good bit of time traveling in search of fabric and lace. During the previous few years, Natalie helped to care for her mother who was terminally ill. On the week of her high school graduation, Natalie’s mother passed away.

For eight years, my friend cooked for her mother evenings that her father was working. She used fresh herbs from their garden. Natalie’s father had also recently authored a cookbook and while testing recipes, taught her and her mother some of the wonderful worldly foods to prepare Louisiana style using fresh herbs. This shared culinary experience and a love of flowers helped a father and daughter grieve together when the time came.

After the infinite pain of losing her mother, my friend accompanied her ever doting father to some of the far away places he went for work. Free time allowed them to see gardens, eat and continue to add a southern twist to European recipes. Mostly they just wanted pursue common interests in honor of the woman they both adored and missed so much.

Seeing the window boxes full of geraniums, fields of tulips and realizing the strength in the bond with her father helped my friend to continue to patiently pursue a healthy love of gardening. Meeting Natalie and finding that we were both passionate about the same hobby taught us how one single flower can open up a world of conversation.

Somehow, growing the flowers for her wedding seemed like the natural thing to attempt. We knew that if our project didn’t work out, she would still have exquisite flowers for the big weekend since her papa would no doubt have back-up plans in the works. Still we wanted to try.

Truthfully, I had my doubts as far as the whether our project would be successful but figured all we could do was find out. Besides, what a fabulous few months of gardening we would have together before Natalie and her husband would marry and move to a bigger place.

Finally, the big day arrived. Months of worry mixed with great fun paid off. Our flowers were absolutely gorgeous. We had mixed containers of dianthus and sweet alyssum. The delphinium that we grew so much of was absolutely stunning. Rosemary, sweet bay and other evergreens made wonderful fillers in our colorful arrangements. Hanging baskets that we tended for the past few months became beautiful centerpieces at the outdoor reception.

Natalie was married that spring surrounded by Papa, her closest friends, flowers from her own garden, and no doubt her mother who we knew was so proud of how much her daughter had grown.