Wednesday, September 3, 2008

DIY Peonies

I believe that I am destined to have peonies at my wedding. It started back when I purchased a bottle of Stella In Two Peony Parfum and fell deeply in love with their rich, tangy scent. Then, one lazy Saturday afternoon as I casually flipped through a local bridal magazine, I stopped dead on a page featuring an Oregon bride wearing the perfect lace mini-dress and proudly clutching a lush bouquet of large, delicate, pink peonies. I have since tracked that dress down, purchasing it for my own wedding (the infamous second dress), and fantasized about those magnificent flowers non-stop.

Shortly after that I ordered a package from Springcart, and when the box arrived I was ecstatic to find a small cellophane bag containing three peony postcards in chocolate brown envelopes tucked inside.

Finally, my mom called me one evening after bringing home a backseat full of peony bulbs from a local gardening store. She told me that upon taking them into the house my father saw the pictures on the bags and smiled, telling her how much he loved peonies because his grandmother used to grow them in her yard when he was a child. They are fragrant, hypnotic, and they make my dad smile? Anything that makes dad happy makes me happy! (with the exception of taxidermy)

At that point there was no turning back.

As I started my hunt for the perfect peonies I knew I wanted to make DIY bouquets. My mom can garden like nobody's business and with her help I would be in safe hands.

Generally peonies bloom from Spring to early Summer (approx. end of April to mid-June), and by having a May 30th wedding I knew we would be right near the end of mid-season (which happens to be when my favorite peony species are in bloom!). We were lucky enough to discover a local nursery on the outskirts of Salem, OR called Adelman Peony Gardens. A couple months ago my mom and I kidnapped Nick and went over to the gardens to check out the flowers and get some more info. to prepare us for the following Spring. Here are some pictures Nick took of our top choices:
Mrs. FDR

Mister Ed- they bloom with both white and pink flowers on the same plant

Monsieur Jules Elie

While at the gardens my mom purchased a few live plants that we hope to have in bloom for our reception next year (we are planning to bring in tons of live plants from her garden for green-decor). After speaking with Mrs. Adelman who was harvesting flowers in the garden, we learned some valuable peony advice:

1. Peony buds can be kept in the fridge sans water for weeks (though you want to keep them away from fresh fruit because it emits ethylene gasses that speed up the maturity of the flowers).

2. You cut them when they are tight buds, then when you want them to open you can place them in warm water to speed the process. If that doesn't work, Martha Stewart has some great peony advice here (if you fast forward, the peony tutorial starts in the fifth section about 25 minutes into the episode).

3. At the Adelman Peony Gardens cut peonies cost about $2 a bud. At around $24 a dozen, DIY peonies fit almost any budget!

4. Leave at least three leaves on the stem of the peony to keep it thriving. Make sure you do cut off the leaves that will be submerged in water as they will rot in the vase if you don't.

Thanks to the Adelman Peony Gardens for the wonderful tips!

Also, If your wedding doesn't fall between the months of April and June and you love the look of peonies, you can always substitute for the gorgeous Ranunculus. They can be just as lush as peony blossoms and come in an array of vibrant colors:These are some purple fringed ranunculus that can be found at Saipua (and while you're there, check out their yummy soaps!).

For our centerpieces we purchased various vintage crystal vases and will be filling them with peonies and greenery from my mom's garden. I will be sure to update with pictures when we get some!

I also recommend this video from The Knot On Demand (scroll down to 'How To: Make a Bouquet' to watch a tutorial on how to make a simple yet elegant peony bridal bouquet).

Gardens that sell cut peonies:
Adelman Peony Gardens in OR
Bridgewater Gardens in MI
The Peony Garden in IA
Swenson Gardens in MN
BB Peony Gardens in ME
Third Branch, LLC in VT
Omena Cut Flowers in MI
Halcyon Hill in NY

If you have any more tips on using peonies in bouquets or know of more cut peony suppliers please feel free to share!


Riley (aka Rachel) said...

$2 a stem is not a bad price at all for a quality flower!
I'm thinking of paying $3 a stem for roses (the kind with the larger flower), so the peonies would be less expensive.

bekapaige said...

Hey Amanda, thanks so much for your comment on my blog- it's too bad bloggerbrides cut that out because the knot tutorial was SO helpful. I think I'm going to go for it and do the flowers myself! Thanks for the help and advice :)

Erica said...

Thank you so much for the contact in MN! I LOVE the idea and hope to find some peony farms!

Miss Rye Bread said...

where have you found ranunculus in oregon??