80) Ten Habits for a Green Wedding

night reception black & whiteOur son, Liam, married his partner this weekend (on the night of the Supermoon!) They are both environmental engineers, and so our philosophies of living green are very much in sync.

The venue was a river-rafting camp on the Cheakamus River in British Columbia. 95% of the 110 adult guests, 48 mountain bikes, 17 dogs, and 12 little guests (most under 6) stayed on site, in cabins, tents and RVs. I know, it sounds like a recipe for chaos, but the bride and groom, plus those they enlisted to help with big chunks of the event, were all highly organized. I would say the event went off without a hitch, except for the little ring-bearer, who not only lost the rings on the road somewhere, but also chose to roll around in the dry leaves at the feet of the wedding party (after the rings were found!), wrap herself around the bride, and sniff the groom’s crotch. Yes, you guessed it – their dog, Sinka, was the ring-bearer, and she did her best to steal the show.sinka antics

The event took place in a forest of mature cedar trees, with some deciduous thrown in for perfect measure. In the 30 degree (86F) heat for the two days, we were very grateful to be in shade. We had a campfire in the evenings.wedding campfire

I volunteered to be head caterer for the weekend. That meant overseeing the recipes, shopping, preparation, food-safe storage and clean-up for the entire menus for Friday night’s BBQ, the charcuterie table after the ceremony, and the wedding feast in the evening. Jessica was in charge of the desserts, including the wedding cake, and Verna was in charge of the pancake breakfast and the meat-cooking. kitchen helpWe drafted willing friends and relatives to help us with the prep, cleanup, decoration and everything else. It was a huge communal effort, all big-picture-orchestrated by the bride and groom.charcuterie helpwedding buffet

Cooking facilities on site were extremely limited, so many of the dishes were partly prepared off-site. Here’s the pre-event crew celebrating our efficiency by having a quick lunch with wine.celebrating cookingWe used the barbeques to roast the grass-fed beef, grill pancakes, roast vegetables, boil water for noodles, potatoes, eggs, etc. both because of insufficient stoves and a need to keep the kitchen cool. The huge salmon fillets were cooked over the campfire on a metal rack. With only two regular-sized fridges, we rounded up ice and coolers, including a homemade one that was as big as a chest freezer, and moved about the site when required, on a truck.

You might be waiting with breath bated to learn what made this a green wedding? Here are some of the many ways (followed by a fail):

1. Dishes were rented, eliminating all paper plates and plastic cutlery. They were hand-washed by the guests themselves for re-use for the next meal.

2. The napkins were rented, so no paper waste was generated.

3. The bride’s mother made 120 pottery cups, so each guest could use one at the dinner, and then take it home as their beautiful wedding favour. The cog design is a nod to the wedding couple, both ardent mountain bikers. Classy.cups & glasses

4. Drinks over the weekend were consumed from pint canning jars, with a chalkboard label for each guest to write their name on, for identification. Jessica took them all home to use to can her fruits and chutneys.

5. Picnic tables were rounded up from all over the site, put together, end-to-end, and covered with long canvas drop cloths and burlap, which will all be re-used for other purposes. Table decorations were canning jars with lights inside, blue napkins in Verna’s pottery cups, and plants wrapped in burlap (given to guests to take home to plant.)Green Wedding Reception

6. All the giant serving dishes were rented or borrowed or re-used – there was almost no garbage produced (but see the “fail” below).

7. The groom’s bowtie and pocket square were made from one of his father’s neckties (by little sister). (Green AND sentimental!) Here’s the bride’s family posing for the requisite photos:Meg family

8. Jessica used three old wood-frame windows to display funny and embarrassing and cute pictures of the bride (as a child) on one, of the groom on the second, and both of them together on the third.photo frame at night

9. Beer came from a keg, returned to the brewery. All cans and bottles recycled, of course. Wine was made by bride’s parents in re-used bottles.night reception

10. All food made from scratch, and some ingredients from my garden. Care for a recipe? Roasted veggies were all eaten up, so I know they were popular. I used Liam’s Godmother’s simple recipe: 1. Cut up veggies into bite-sized pieces, and place in roasting pan. We used: carrots and beets from my garden, new potatoes, broccoli, small onions/scallions, sweet peppers, parsnips, garlic cloves and cauliflower. 2. In the roasting pan, marinate veggies in a mixture of: equal portions of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil (to serve 8, I’d say 1/3 cup of each) and add salt and pepper to taste. 3. Put into a 350 degree oven or BBQ for 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.lights thru cedar

11. Every cook frets over the quantities of food, and we tend to produce far too much. If the reception had been at a hotel or prepared by a real caterer, large quantities of quality food would need to be discarded. Except for the leftover potato salad, which had to be tossed because of food safety, almost all the leftover food was given away to organizers and guests, and kind friends came over to our house the next day to claim a stack of salad ingredients. I only wish I had remembered to take mountains of “tupperware” for bringing food home.

So that’s the list of our 10 habits for a green wedding. I know there are 11, but I figure #7 is a bit of a cheat/brag. As a non-sequiter,Kaan, Tess and I yuk it up for the photo-booth:photobooth antics

Now for the fail:

The venue had no facilities to compost plant waste, largely because of the bear and other pest attractant factor. After all, this location is about a kilometre (as the crow flies) from the grizzly bear and her cub-spotting three days before the wedding! So, I guess I can relinquish one of my green habits in the interests of safety.solarized fire-watchers

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79. Gado Gado

Gado GadoSo many of our WWOOFers and guests love our Gado Gado (a vegetarian Indonesian salad served at room temperature). Mary has recently asked for the recipe, so I include it here. This recipe generally serves 6 as a main dish:

1. Spread fresh spinach leaves on a large serving platter.

2. Yellow rice: Cook 1 cup long-grain brown rice in 2 cups water to which 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp turmeric has been added. Let cool to room temperature and spread on top of the spinach.

3. Steam (separately) until tender-crisp: 3 potatoes, 1 yam, 2 sliced carrots, 2 cups purple cabbage, 1/2 head broccoli or cauliflower, 1 cup green beans, garden peas, or whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand. Let cool to room temperature, and sprinkle on salad artistically.

4. Hard-boil 4 eggs. Cool and slice into quarters. Spread onto salad.

5. Top salad with fresh bean sprouts, Peanut Sauce (recipe below), fresh cilantro, and chopped peanuts.

Peanut Sauce

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp minced garlic

3 tbsp brown sugar

1.5 cups hot water

4 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp salt

crushed red pepper, to taste

Put everything into a blender and puree until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little water.


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78. Big Garden Tour

This Green House 2.jpgSo, it’s all over. The Botanical Garden Society’s Tour of Private Gardens (ours was one of seven gardens) on Sunday was met with perfect weather, in spite of a 60% chance of rain forecast. Five minutes after the scheduled end of the tour, a few raindrops fell. Good karma was goin’ on.

My last post tells about some of our preparation work.Mary painting sign Today’s post attempts to give you the tour at This Green House experience in pictures.

Mary drew an amazing map for our visitors.This Green House Garden Map jpg She painted signs for our eleven points of interest. I wrote out and laminated informational signs, along with names of some of the interesting plants, mostly in the dye and medicinal gardens. artichoke dye sample

Now, I’ll just throw a bunch of pictures atcha:deer signDear deer.jpg

bear sign

nasties in rotting log

studio yard


quilters' workshop

patio and sky garden

birdcage planter

greenhouse insideMary demonstrated natural dyeing while I demonstrated some sewing in the studio.

mary tour guide dyeing

dye pots at garden tour

dye samples at garden tour

pizza patio

box planted 2.jpgThis Green House



red garden vignette

wilde land

greenhouse signs

lady's mantle

Medicinal garden.jpg

strawberry hills close

kitty resting

My friend brought me a big bouquet of peonies to grace the herb tea and treats table. Aren’t they gorgeous?

pink peonies

garden tour collage.jpg

thank you for visiting


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77. Prep for the Garden Tour

Wilde Land.jpg

Goodness, things are hoppin’ ’round here, as we prepare for the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden‘s tour of private gardens (Sunday, June 8, 11-4, tix at garden centres).

Mary, our only WWOOFer this year, came to help with final preparations ten days ago, and am I ever glad to have help. She’s a graphic artist back home in Switzerland, so we agreed that she would paint the signsMary painting sign

Dear deer.jpg

garden signs

and draw a tour map for our visitors and do lots of weeding.weeding at this green house

She was game to make woad balls from the plants in the dye garden.making woad balls A lot of work for 2.5 balls (see the little one she’s balancing on her nose?)Mary with woad balls

It’s astounding to me how anxious I am about presenting a beautiful and interesting garden. We’ve only been here for four years, so very few plants are mature. I’ve been working on it flat out for three months now.Medicinal garden.jpg

We’re getting there. So far, it’s been a better-than-average growing year.

D and I have nearly finished the new greenhouse. (Well, almost 95% has been done by D – I’m just doing the stonework around the bottom.) It’s growing those tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil and cucumbers to beat the band, as long as I remember to water.

The tour theme this year is Artists and Their Gardens. I have not spent nearly enough time pimping my studio and gallery wall, let alone making art. I do plan to do little dyeing and sewing demos, though.

I’ll be back with a full garden tour when it’s all over.

Wish us luck!


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76. Rustic Table Centre

We picked up the box for the centre of the Driftwood Picnic Table.hole in table

I asked the sheet metal guys to make a box from a leftover partial sheet of copper-coloured steel roofing material, with a drain hole.table centre box

My theory is that it can be either a drink sink, or a planter.

The fabricator took two-and-a-half weeks to get to it (while suggesting it would take two days.)

Unfortunately, it was not quite built to the specs we had agreed upon, and was 2″ deeper than I wanted. They used up most of the 4′x 5.5′ sheet of steel, and the rivets stuck out an extra 1/8″ on each side, so the box didn’t fit into the opening we had left for it.rivets on garden box

I gouged out a bit of the table to make the box sit into the table opening, and settled it into place.table box ready for planting

Our WWOOFer (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) volunteer, Mary, who is a graphic artist, was given the fun task of planting it with the18 plants we bought from a nursery or collected from around the yard.table box ready for planting

She started by lining the box with landscape cloth, to prevent scratches on the metal finish.lining table box

The box is 36″ long x 12″ deep x 12″ wide. It used up 3 pails of soil (my organic magic mix).

I left Mary alone to create her tiny landscape design.planted table box

planting table box

box planted 2.jpg


I can hardly believe that it took 18 plants to make it look full. With a mostly red and white colour scheme, complimented by different foliage textures and colours, we used a variety of geraniums, dahlia, zinnia, winter savory, parsley, sedum, calibrachoa, verbena, feather grass, and a couple of leafy spreaders I have forgotten the name of.view of the box and house.jpg

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