Sourcing your wedding flowers seasonally will give you incredibly beautiful blooms and reduce the carbon footprint of growing and distributing these flowers. But what flowers are in season during your wedding month? We are excited to present this seasonal flowers blog series, written by Guild member Natalie Huntley. Natalie is the owner and florist behind Rabbit Foot Florals, and we asked her to share which blooms we can expect to see growing during each season in North Carolina.
The information in this post pertains mostly to the Triangle and central regions of North Carolina, but though regions like the mountains and the coast will have slightly different dates, the varieties of flowers that one can find from local growers are mostly the same.
Per the last blog post on summer flowers, it is probably clear that I very much so love summer and all of the different flower varieties and light that it brings. However, after a hot and humid summer, many of us in the south are ready for the cooler days that autumn brings. There’s a pretty good chance that we will be given a few cooler days sprinkled throughout the month of October, but the majority upper half of the month will remain warm. Due to the reduced daylight, the leaves on the trees will still change color. If you are wanting the most intense colors of autumn in the Triangle portion of North Carolina, plan your wedding for the last week of October or first weekend of November. This is also an ideal time for engagement photos!
Mid-October flower arrangement
The first day of autumn usually falls on September 22nd or 23rd but, depending on whether it’s a leap year or not, could fall on the 21st or 24th of September. Since we tend to have warmer weather in the Triangle portion of North Carolina, this means that our cut-flower growing season typically extends into late October.
The end of September is one of my favorite parts of the year, cut-flower wise. Though it’s still warm, it’s nothing like the extreme heat that’s possible over the summer. The days are shorter, but there’s still enough daylight for a lot of summer flowers to keep blooming. Usually, there are some late or second flush lisianthus available and dahlias increase in production. There are still summer flowers producing in late September like zinnias, rudbeckia, marigolds, celosia, gomphrena, tithonia, and Amaranthus, to name a few.
Gathering of late September beauty; gomphrena, celosia, zinnias, and herbs
Native flowers and plants like goldenrod, white aster, ageratum, ironweed, and beautyberry are also abundant in late September and are a true sign of the season changing. Tiny blooms of the beautyberry start flowering in August. In September, they develop into actual berries leaving some of the stems ready to be cut for arrangements. Purple is the most popular color for beautyberries, but they also come in white and blush.
Photos from Mellow Marsh Farm; from left to right- Ironweed, Goldenrod, Beautyberry flowers, Beautyberry berries.
When I think of October, I think of dahlias- lots and lots of dahlias. As mentioned in the previous Summer blog post, dahlias are versatile and come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. You can achieve most color palettes from dahlias including jewel tones, autumnal colors, whites/blushes, and dark and moody. The large ‘dinnerplate’ dahlia will make a statement while the smallest ‘mini pompon’ makes a perfect accent or boutonniere flower. As daylight takes a nosedive throughout October, dahlias slowdown in production by the end of the month.
More and more flower farmers are growing eucalyptus in and around the Triangle/Triad region of North Carolina. This is exciting as it’s used abundantly in weddings and flower orders. Eucalyptus needs a couple of seasons before it’s usable, so many farmer’s in the area are now at a point where their eucalyptus is thriving. It’s best in late summer and fall since it will have had the summer to grow in the light and heat. Some popular varieties include silver dollar, parva folia, gunni, lemon eucalyptus, and seeded eucalyptus.
Photo by Rebecca Ames Photography, featuring a bundle of different types of eucalyptus.
As we near the hard frost in November, in comes heirloom chrysanthemums. Common mums can be seen in early fall at garden centers and even grocery stores, sold as planters and trimmed into a round shape. Heirloom chrysanthemums are the fancy sibling of the common mum. Heirloom chrysanthemums are a great option for November weddings. They tend to extend into mid-November, and sometimes into late November, in time for Thanksgiving. Spider mums add a pop of interest to any bouquet and can be quite large. ‘Seaton’s J’dore’ are a blush chrysanthemum, bearing a medium size bloom.
Floret Flowers - Chrysanthemum ‘Senkyo Kenshin’ and ‘Seaton’s J’Dore’.
Fall is an enchanting time of year. In the south, it creeps in slowly, taking its time. There’s an excitement in the air as cooler temperatures start to settle, leaves begin changing color, and pumpkins begin decorating porches in the neighborhood. The seasonal flower options embody these changes. Although the growing season ends before fall is technically over, there is an abundance of beauty throughout September and October.
Late October bouquet featuring dahlias, snapdragons, and heirloom chrysanthemums.
Rabbit Foot Florals has been operated by owner Natalie Huntley since May 2018 near downtown Durham, NC. At Rabbit Foot Florals, the mission is to combine a natural, garden-inspired style with flowers grown in North Carolina. With sustainability in the forefront of her designs, Natalie is passionate about using seasonally available flowers. Predominately a small wedding and event florist, designing for 20-30 weddings and events yearly, Natalie also works with other local florists, creates floral designs for styled photoshoots, and has attended floral workshops both locally and across the US.