What shades of yellow flowers will be available August 1? My granddaughter has asked me to decorate 100 cupcakes (decorate, not bake and frost) with flowers "like you used to do for my birthdays when I was little." Sounds simple, but in spite of having a lovely garden I'm not so sure about yellow blossoms. Swanson's currently have loads of magnificent pansies in every shade of soft yellow, but I was told they would not be in bloom in August. Annuals probably shouldn't be planted until late May. I usually avoid annuals, but this is a special event and I could honor the request by growing plants and arranging them on the cakes. And cross my fingers for sun minus slugs and aphids!
I would appreciate your wise suggestions. Thanks.
Helen T. Strickland
Answer: Hi Helen - I'm so glad you don't need to bake and frost a hundred cupcakes! But how sweet your granddaughter cherishes the memory of you decorating her birthday cakes with flowers from your garden. And you're in luck, because yellow is a summer color so you should have plenty of flower choices for an August 1 wedding.
It'd be easy to grow plenty of edible nasturtiums to top hundreds of cupcakes. As soon as the soil warms up a bit, plant seeds of fragrant 'Whirlybird Cream'; ruffled, butter-yellow 'Moongleam' or the paler 'Moonlight', and the showy 'Jewel Peach Melba' (right) which is primrose yellow with a raspberry splotch int he center, and you'll have a garden full of nasturtiums all summer long. All these kinds of nasturtiums are available from Nichols Garden Nursery and probably in the seed racks of your neighborhood nursery.
A little flower that would contrast well with the bolder nasturtiums is the charming bi-colored annual Nemesia 'Sunsatia Lemon'. I can't find any poison info on this one, so I'm assuming it's safe, but you might want to check with the librarians at the Miller Library to make sure.
How about the chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) which has pale yellow flowers with a maroon and green center and smells strongly of chocolate? These are a specialty of Chocolate Flower Farm on Whidbey Island, and I've often seen them available in May and June in larger nurseries.
While most of the yellow daisy flowers of summer are too large for cupcakes, Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' is a perfect size, as well as being a long-blooming perennial you'll enjoy in your garden. It's on the safe list from poison control centers, so should be fine for garnishing cupcakes.
And while it's true that pansies don't like summer heat, you could probably find an assortment of violas in nurseries this summer that would work beautifully to round out your palette of yellow flowers.