While not a fussy affair, this is a bridal shower — think white, white, white and a touch of "something blue" when it comes to your decorations. If you don't own white plates and linens, consider renting some for the event; rentals are surprisingly affordable. On the table, opt for stems of full-blossomed flowers like hydrangea, roses or peonies tucked into individual vases for a centerpiece that doubles as favors for the guests. Delicate ribbon details give the table its finishing feminine touches.
Tough as nails and a strong bloomer, black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) belongs in every garden. This native beauty adds sunny shades to the summer garden, with flowers that lure butterflies and all manner of bees. Blossoms make a great addition to the vase and continue to open until fall frost if you faithfully remove spent blooms. Seedheads attract goldfinches and other seed-eating birds. Grows 24 to 36 inches tall by 12 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7.
Many plants in a meadow are perfect for plucking and plunking into vases. Include annual zinnias for pops of color in your meadow, and you’ll have plenty of flowers for picking. Zinnias come in all shapes and sizes. For a variety with the size to stand out in a meadow, look to ‘Benary’s Giant’ zinnias (Zinnia elegans). This variety is ‘Benary’s Giant Scarlet.’ You’ll need to plant meadow annuals every year. For best results, sow seed at the proper time by following packet instructions.
Native perennial anise hyssop earns its keep in the garden by filling many roles. Offering beautiful cut flowers is just one of them. Known botanically as Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop is a strong pollinator plant, bringing bees, butterflies and many beneficial insects to the garden. Leaves can be used to flavor drinks with a hint of anise, and small purple petals offer a burst of licorice flavor. Flower spikes are sturdy and work in a bouquet with or without the actual tiny lavender blooms. They provide structure and a vertical accent in arrangements. Deer-and rabbit-resistant plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 18 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8. Good vase companions for anise hyssop: purple coneflower, echibeckia, hosta, gas plant and garden phlox.
A classic bloomer for early summer bouquets, bearded iris offers a rainbow of flower hues, from purple-black, to sunny yellow, to old-fashioned lavender. Bearded iris are undemanding in the garden. Tuck them into a spot with full sun to part shade, and call it done. Look for dwarf, knee-high or tall varieties. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 38 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10. Good vase companions for bearded iris: baptisia, peony, lady’s mantle, gas plant and lavender.
An ideal native for moist or dry shade, variegated solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’) offers season-long interest. White, sweetly fragrant blooms open along stems in spring, luring pollinators and hummingbirds. Variegated leaves look terrific from spring to fall, when they shift to gold tones. Flowers fade to form dark berries. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes (underground stems) to form a drift of leafy beauty. Pick individual stems for the vase. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall and up to 1 foot wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Oriental lilies are showstoppers in the summer garden, opening richly colored and intensely fragrant blooms. Flowers appear from mid- to late summer and can linger for a few weeks. Oriental lilies grow from bulbs, which are best planted in fall in colder zones. Lily stems grow 24 to 48 inches tall and usually benefit from staking. Plants often spread over time to form a clump from 12 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for Oriental lily: hosta or baptisia leaves, ribbon grass, garden phlox or bee balm.
Go native with false indigo, a prairie plant that’s low maintenance and gorgeous. Pretty blue-purple flower spikes appear in late spring and make a great addition to a garden-fresh bouquet. Leaves have a blue-green tone that looks stunning in a vase—harvest stems all season long. Dried seedpods make a nice addition to fall arrangements. This is a tap-rooted perennial, which means it’s not easy to move once established. Plant it where you know it can stay put. False indigo offers different flower colors, including blends of blue, yellow, brown and white. The variety shown is ‘Blueberry Sundae.’ False indigo are deer-resistant plants that grow 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for false indigo: bearded iris, peony, clustered bellflower, purple coneflower and echibeckia.
Summer long color is yours when you add ‘Amethyst Pearl’ phlox (Phlox carolina) to your garden. A butterfly favorite, ‘Amethyst Pearl’ opens pale lavender-pink blooms starting in early summer. The show continues until early fall, with blossoms beckoning butterflies, bees and other pollinator insects. If you like gathering garden bouquets, grow this phlox—its flowers look great in a vase. Note that while this beauty looks like old-fashioned garden phlox, it's actually a different species. Be sure to get Phlox carolina if you want a phlox for damp soil. Plants grow 18 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
Eclectic and funky little girls room with a blush pink base. The soft color palette is anchored with the charcoal accents and dots of bright pink. A window seat with comfy toss pillows in fun textures creates a cozy reading nook. A lofted wood daybed lined with pink velvet cushions is perfect for lounging and sleeping. An antique mirror over sits over the wooden dresser, on which sits vases of brightly colored fresh flowers. A play tent in charcoal gray with white dots atop a small white faux fur rug provides a special place to hide away or share secrets with friends. An area rug in blush pink with a charcoal gray and white pattern picks up the colors from elsewhere in the room and complements the wooden furniture.
A classic native wildflower, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) brings a steady stream of color to gardens all summer long. It’s a hearty plant, withstanding full sun, drought and poor soil of all sorts (clay, rocky, shallow). Plant breeders have worked to improve this flower powerhouse by expanding blossom color and form. The result? You can find (no longer purple) coneflower plants in a rainbow of shades, including red, gold, white, orange and pink. This variety is PowWow Wildberry, which unfurls vivid rose-purple blooms. Coneflowers are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Purple coneflower grows 24 to 60 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Some newer varieties grow shorter. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for purple coneflower: Oriental or Asiatic lily, Russian sage, catmint, hosta and gas plant.