erb gardens are indeed magic and with some special planning a very aromatic and symbolic bouquet can be conjured up from the earth. All brides dream of a bouquet that is unique and different and a herbal bouquet fulfils that desire. The herbs that we want to use are not readily available at your local florist, so we will have to grow the herbs ourselves. A homegrown wedding bouquet will keep the guests talking for months while they remember the fragrance, beauty and folklore.
The flowers and herbs have their own language:
Even the colour of the rose has meaning:
There are a number of great books about "The Language of Flowers," although after reading many they sometimes contradict each other. All of the herbs and flowers for this project should be harvested early in the morning or in the evening, when they are full of moisture. Take clean containers of water with you out to the garden. Use a sharp knife to cut the stems on a slant. Remove any lower leaves and thorns. Let the floral material stand in clean tepid water for at least two hours, or ideally, overnight. This conditions the flowers so they will not wilt. The old fashioned fragrant roses are the best, but if you feel uneasy about the blooming time and the quality, order them from the florist. You will also need two or three stems of baby's breath. There are many different types of bouquets, tussie mussie and cascade styles are the prettiest with herbs. Tussie mussies are round, easy to design and very attractive. The bouquet begins with a rose bud in the middle that you carefully surround with circlets of the wedding herbs- rosemary, lavender, more roses, mint, myrtle, ivy, baby's breath and a circle of leaves (perhaps scented geranium or woolly lambs ear). Add a lace bow and place the flowers in a special tussie mussie holder or wrap the stems in an antique handkerchief. The traditional shape is a cascade design. Cascade is basically a round circle with trailing material at the bottom to create a vee shape.
What you will need:
Start by fashioning the bow. It can be made ahead of time. If you are having difficulties, have someone else make it for you. Just keep in mind the size of the finished bouquet- you don't want the bow to be overpowering. Incorporate into the bow a lace handkerchief from Great Grandmother or an antique ribbon or tatting done by a family member to give that special flavour of heritage. Tie "Victorian Love Knots" in narrow ribbon; as you tie in the knots repeat the bride and groom's names 3 times. A symbol of luck for the bridal couple. Now the fun begins! Soak the posy holder in water until saturated. Place in a bouquet stand so the holder will be off the work area. If you don't have a store bought stand use a tall, narrow vase to get the posy holder up into the air.
Have all your conditioned floral material gathered in separate vases or jars. When I harvest the herbs and flowers I gently secure the stems with an elastic band. When it's time to work with them, the elastic is cut making the stems easy to handle.
Place the greenery first. Rosemary sprigs can be gently pushed into the oasis (about 1/2"). Do this at quarter intervals around the posyholder. Repeat with the other green herbs each time in a new section: be very symmetrical. Always balance the stems opposite each other. When you have the outside perimeter full, start placing the greens in the middle. This gives the bouquet depth. Insert the 3 long pieces of ivy into the bottom to establish the length of the cascade. The shorter ivy is to be placed throughout the top circle space.
The shorter roses should be placed into the middle area to form a pleasing circle. Make sure there is a rose just off the centre point and all the rest will fall into place. Save 3 or 4 longer roses to repeat the line of the cascade with the ivy. Gather together 3 stems of lavender at a time and place throughout the bouquet. Use the baby's breath and any other herbs and flowers you wish to add to fill in any gaps.
Mist the bouquet well and add the bow that has been attached to the florist pick. Carefully push the pick into the oasis about 2/3 down the design, until it feels well secured. Place your finished HERBAL WEDDING BOUQUET in the refrigerator until picture thyme!!
If you feel that you have more of a green thumb than a creative one, why not grow the herbs and flowers and ask a florist to design the bouquet for you.
Oh yes, and after the wedding you may want to root some of the ivy, myrtle, mint and rosemary for the next HERBAL WEDDING BOUQUET.
Written by Marilyn Edmison -Driedger. Zone 6a in Southwestern Ontario Canada