The gardener and the wedding: Part I

Published 7:33 am Thursday, April 4, 2019

In most families when a daughter brings home a serious boyfriend and announces her engagement, there is an immediate flurry of activity related to dresses, food, venues, invitations, websites, and yes, more about dresses.

If one of the parents is a serious gardener, however, everything changes. Instead of an obsession with the wedding dinner and music for dancing afterward or even floral arrangements, attention turns to the garden. Even when the wedding isn’t going to be in the parents’ garden. Why? Surely there will be visitors, some of whom will probably stay at the bride’s parents’ home; there will be a pig roast; and there will be who knows what else happening. You see, the wedding isn’t about the bride and groom, it’s all about the garden and the numerous improvements that it needs.

And this garden is special — several acres of formal and informal areas surrounding a Georgian rectory. That short box hedge around the formal beds is definitely looking shabby; the copper beech hedge across the back of the property is sulking; and worst of all, the roses are definitely the wrong color. Can you imagine how anyone could have possibly planted naff pink roses? And bushes, not standards, no less!

The bride’s mother has reported stealth meetings with local builders in her husband’s garden shed. She’s noticed clandestine deliveries of plants, and the hiring of additional workers to help with spring chores. Even more alarming, she’s caught her husband madly scribbling diagrams on graph paper. Something is definitely afoot.

And so, the madness has begun. The first change was the installation of a very posh pergola with a slate roof. The pergola was needed to serve as the hub of proposed garden paths. After all, people strolling the paths would definitely need a place to sit and chat. Real Georgian gardens served as places to conduct business in private, meet a lover, and maybe even enjoy the plants. Next up: those ratty looking low hedges. They have been ripped out, all in one afternoon, and have left alarming gashes crisscrossing the formal areas. The gardener’s wife is slightly alarmed, but figures silence is the best strategy. She likes the pergola and definitely doesn’t want to know what it cost. As for that diagram that the gardener is still playing with, well, it’s probably going to result in new plants that will complement the new roses, a garden in shades of cream through white. Stay tuned; this project is just beginning.

CYNTHIA WOOD can be reached at