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weeder’s digest: peonies part three

by Grace Bonney

PEONIES PART THREE; behind the scenes wedding weekend

After having recovered from a month of sickness in our house, we jumped into another June wedding weekend in our new (unfinished) space. I have two amazing floral assistants, one of whom always brings homemade baked goods. [This week was lemon poppyseed cupcakes.]

Everyone should really have the chance to arrange flowers in a construction zone. At our new space we have a bid dumpster, which if you have a flowershop is incredibly exciting. I posed on top of it. With the brides bouquet.

The bigger of the two weddings on Saturday was up at Wave Hill, a bucolic scene lush with blooming viburnum, roses, summer hydrangea…when you work there you get strict rules about not cutting stems from the premises. Apparently there are no rules about florists using the golf carts, as my assistant found out. When she announced that she had permission to use it I had a quiet internal meltdown. “but I want TO DRIVE THE GOLF CART! ”


The bride had excellent taste, and matched some of the glassware on the tables to the eggplant colors in the centerpieces. A little visual tie-in like this goes a long way. We made all the centerpieces a bit different.

I like a whole lot of texture with a big mix of flowers. Especially this time of year. This way it’s like a big garden distilled into a 6×6″ clear glass cylinder in the middle of your table! Guests talk about what flowers they recognize, what they have grown themselves. You got some pitcher plants in there, some smoke bush…obviously peonies…ladies mantle, blueberry, hydrangea, button mums, lisianthus, purple basil, coxcomb, pulsitilla, princess roses, black beauty roses, scabiosa pods, nigella and more…next week I’m going to come at you with some tips for doing your own wedding flowers…till then!


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  • Usually my taste in flowers is very simple – all the same type or at least all the same color, but these are amazing! Do you do weddings on Long Island?

  • Wow! Flowers are elegant and without that stiff look you can get at weddings. Fabulous colour (Brit spelling!) combinations. Love this website!

  • just gorgeous— the top one reminds me of my bridal bouquet
    (i had white peonies, bright green baby mums and white calalillies)

  • wow, i think my jaw just hit the desk in awe. those are so beautiful.

    what are the flowers that sort of look like pitcher plants? i love the delicate pattern and the fade from green to red.

  • probably would have helped if i had read the article before reacting to the photos… those actually are pitcher plants!

  • Love you, love the flowers, love that you’re going to talk about doing one’s own wedding flowers next week (which will be about 50 days till my DIY wedding). YEA!

  • I absolutely love the centerpieces. They are breathtaking… and they make me want to get married just so I can have you do the flowers.

  • very beautiful flowers! i love how organic the arrangements are. can’t wait to hear about DIY-ing your own wedding flowers since i am doing my sis’s wedding arrangements in a few weeks! thanks for this very inspiring and enjoyable column.

  • So fun seeing you at Wavehill and working there last Saturday. It was a beautiful wedding and your flowers were as always…stunning! I’ll let you know when the photos are complete and try to send some your way. Although, your shots are quite brilliant. Good luck in your new space and looking forward to another great addition to the hood:)

  • So excited about next weeks post. I’m planning on doing my own wedding flowers for next year and love, love, love Sarah’s arrangements.

  • funny how you just wrote about peonies because I just bought a bunch from Costco the other day and they are gorgeous. Very vibrant dark pink, they look like tissue paper, and i was shocked at how fast they bloomed, like within 2 hours. I wish they bloomed all year long, they are the more beautiful flower in the world.

  • I love your florals. You are so creative. I used to live in the Midwest, and I could grow the most amazing flowers (I had some tuberous begonias one year that the neighbors thought were fake)and vegetables (tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes) . I now live in Arizona. I have roses, a very prolific lemon tree, cactus and other interesting native flowers such as desert sage. We have a huge saguaro behind our house that is home to a woodpecker and it’s young. Anyway, to make a long story short, I miss the flowers of the Midwest…..peonies, lilacs, begonias, tulips, crocus, and the like, so it was wonderful to see your beautiful pictures of the peonies!