When you grow up with a mom (mum) who lived in England, you cannot escape a love for gardening. She caught my dad’s eye when visiting her sister, who married a GI Joe (Uncle Joe, honest). She went on a double date with my dad’s best friend. Six months later, she immigrated here to marry Dad.

One of Carolynn Floryan’s daylilies was home to an unexpected inhabitant. Photo courtesy of Carolynn Floryan

Her gardens were so beautiful people would stop and admire them, especially her peonies and dahlias. She belonged to a dahlia club in England that would mail tubers to her.

Moving to Vermont and buying a beautiful old farmhouse was when my gardening really flourished. I loved giving out vases of flowers and splitting perennials.

I was amazed when two very special friends asked if I would do the flowers for their wedding in 1995. I told them I had never done corsages, bouquets or boutonnieres. They had faith in me (I was actually recovering from back surgery) and with their help, it was a beautiful wedding on a perfect September morning.

To my surprise, the word got out among friends including staff I worked with as a pediatric nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. For over 20 years, I would do one to two weddings per year as late as October (praying no frost). The only rule: Flowers used were those in season. I never charged for my efforts to fill their wedding with many colorful arrangements. It was a labor of love.

After cutting and filling the back of my pickup (and every available space in the cab), I would cover everything with sheets and tie them down. With my dog Freckles as co-pilot, off we would go. He would stay by the truck while I spent the day setting up. The next day (the wedding), I would do touch-ups just before the ceremony.

At one wedding while we were sitting down waiting to go to the buffet, a waitress tapped me on my shoulder and asked if that was my dog.  Pointing to the food, I looked over to see Freckles patiently standing with the bridal party for his share of the roast beef!

One wedding was on the hottest, most humid day of that summer. I had to travel over an hour to the other side of Vermont (Freckles stayed home, as the hotel did not allow dogs). I prayed all the way that there would be no traffic tie up. Even in water there is a limit to freshness with intense heat. After arriving, I immediately headed to the underground garage. Yanking off the sheets a wave of hear hit me, as Mr. Bill would exclaim oooh, nooo.  I took a peek, Hallelujah, they survived.

Turned out the elevator from the garage to the lobby was inoperable (oooh, nooo). With a heavy bucket in each had I trudged up two flights of stairs, arriving sweaty and out of breath. This was not good. Thank goodness, a friend came to my rescue and with a luggage cart got all the flowers into my room. The hotel staff fought over who would service my room because it smelled so great.

Who knew enjoying gardening would lead to so many weddings. Friends have told me I should go into business. Once you start charging you do not always have a happy bride. I heard of the reality show “Bridezilla,” oooh nooo.

I also found gardening a place of wonder all season (I could do without so many slugs, ugh). Shadows of apple trees on snow-covered hillsides during the full moon, Hummingbirds hovering beside you as they feed on annuals you planted in pots. In the fall, watching many birds flitting among the dried seed heads of coneflowers. Then the unexpected find, such as a tiny yellow frog inside a yellow daylily, what a surprise!

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