I do wish that i'd got a pound for everyone that's asked me
"Do you grow Gypsophila?"
It's not a surprise as White is the traditional wedding colour, and Pinterest is full of pictures of Gypsophila bouquets, jam jars, head dresses and room decorations. After Roses and Peonies, it's probably the most known Bridal flower, and it's also not as expensive as either Roses or Peonies, so it's hardly a shock that it's asked for as much as it is. I have to admit to manipulating it a bit, - after all this was a photo Emma Davies took of me with Gypsophila Covent Garden, in my 2nd year of growing.
Gypsophila Paniculata, which is perennial Gyp, and the most used type for Bridal work, looks lovely in a garden setting. It is however, quickly ruined by rain or dry weather (when i've been told with authority by Wisley gardeners it goes crispy and brown very quickly and looks dreadful) It also doesn't have the nicest of scents, in fact a big bunch of it has a bit of a pong, so not really the scented bouquet you may have had in mind.
Here it is at it's peak in mid July in the RHS Wisley perennial borders. So if you want natural season grown British Gypsophila for your Wedding, then The middle of July is a good time to aim for.
But what if you want something White fluffy, scented and you don't want to rely on no rain, or scorching weather in July to get your table centre jam jars?
Well here are my suggestions for April through to September to cover that peak wedding season, for White, pleasantly scented British Grown alternatives that you can grow in your garden, or source from your local grower.
Clockwise from top left (Narsissus Earlicheer, Honesty stems, Honesty, Hesperis, Anemones & Leucojum.)
The season starts off beautifully in April with The bulbs of Anemones, Leucojum and Narsissus (like Early Cheerfulness and Thalia).Then the white blooms of Honesty arrive. Most people know the papery seed pods of Lunaria Annua, but the white variety of honesty is one of the first of the biennial flowers, and is really pretty for bouquets and displays.
Moving into May, and here in Surrey, the Hesperis is going strong, and scenting most of my orders. The Aqueligias start mid month, and their pretty bell flowers may not last a full week in a bouquet, but are perfect for event table centres and bridal bouquets. The overwintered Annual Gypsophila, -Variety Covent Garden kicks in to bloom in the polytunnel in the 3rd ish week of May, and outside a couple of weeks later, but like it's perennial counterpart, it is short lived, with probably 2 weeks only to enjoy it. Following on its tail is Orlaya Grandiflora, the Lace flower, which overwintered beautifully on my field last year, and gave hundreds of lacy stems for May and June wedding florists. Don't forget the heady perfume of Sweet peas as well, by May these are available from glasshouses and polytunnels all over the country.
clockwise from top left (Hesperis, Aqueligias, Sweet Peas, Orlaya Grandiflora, Sweet peas and Gypsophila covent garden.)
By June the hardy annuals are starting to flower, so we have Ammi major, Cornflowers and Orlaya in the mix, as well as the umbellifers of Cow parsley, Chervil and coriander in the herb bed.
My clove scented Sweet William Alba can be either star of the show or supporting cast, and it may be out of fashion, but the white dianthus (pinks) are also a wonderful scent by the middle of the month.
(Sweet William, Ammi Major, Cornflower)
July is high season for weddings, and the Ammi Major, is overlapping with the now flowering Ammi Visnaga. The carrot family Daucus Carota starts flowering, and we've also got Feverfew, and my personal favourite is Achillea ptarmica the pearl, which is a perennial that give strong long stems at the beginning of the month, and a 2nd shorter flush at the end of July.
clockwise (Daucus Carota, Achillea ptarmica the pearl, Dianthus, Single Feverfew and Ammi Major)
August is our busiest wedding month, and Ammi Visnaga is a wonderful addition to bouquets and arrangements with its large heads and strong stems. The single and the double feverfew are in full flush at the beginning of the month, and the spring sown scabious are providing lots of fluffy white flowers throughout the month. We also had our newly planted Gypsophila paniculata ( white and pink) flowering in August, so maybe planting some new plants each year can increase the spread of availability.
By September, I always wish that i'd planted another bed of Ammi Visnaga, as it's looking fabulous and i'm running out of it. - Luckily the cosmos and the dahlias are providing lovely white heads and the cream and lime green Nicotiana are providing filler flowers, and there's a 2nd flush of feverfew and Scabious coming through.
So without having Gypsophila for more than 4 weeks in the season, I can provide an alternative which is white and wedding like. Have I forgotten any? please add it to the comments if I have.
Here's a lovely bouquet made up by a work experience student. Not a stem of Gypsophila in sight.