Grow a Cutting Garden and Become Your Own Florist
Ever feel guilty when you cut flowers in your garden, concerned that you are destroying nature’s beauty or leaving gaps in your flowerbeds? You might consider planting a cutting garden designed to provide flowers for indoor arrangements and casual patio table bouquets.
Choosing Plants for Success
As with any garden, the first step in planning your cutting garden is to select plants that grow well in your part of the country. Look to see what is growing well in yards around the neighborhood. Ask garden center experts (not big box store clerks) for recommendations. Research online. Keep in mind the basics in your yard: type of soil, the amount of sun or shade your garden receives, and how much moisture will be available from rain or irrigation.
Flowers that Delight (It’s About You)
Next, consider your personal preferences for bouquets. Are you the sophisticated long-stem-roses-and-perfect-lilies type? Or do you gravitate towards casual bunches of brilliant zinnias and cosmos? There is no right or wrong answer; plant what you love. It is helpful to keep in mind the general rule that annual plants tend to bloom for longer periods, and therefore produce more flowers, than do perennials. To get ideas, Google “cutting garden flowers” or click here. This article also has some helpful tips and information.
Selecting a Color Scheme
After you’ve decided which plants will thrive at your site, choose a color scheme. Do you like rich, vivid colors or soft, muted shades? Since the purpose of a cutting garden is to grow flowers for indoor decorating, consider the colors used in your home. If your home color scheme gravitated toward yellows, golds and tans inside, consider focusing on that side of the color wheel in your cutting garden. Perhaps add a few pops of color from nearby parts of the color wheel – orange or red, in this case. This blog post from FTD- a titan in the flower industry- serves as an excellent source of inspiration.
Don’t Overlook Fragrance
For most flower arrangers, fragrance is a bonus. Keeping scent in mind when you choose plants for your cutting garden allows you to enjoy this bonus without dedicating any additional space, sunlight or water. Just check to see if that lovely pink lily is scented. (Love lilies? Consider Oriental lilies; most of them offer exceptional fragrance.) Flowers like gardenias, lilacs, freesia and daphne are known for their scent. You might even consider adding some herbs or greenery like lavender or sage to complete the scent profile and add texture and color to your bouquet. Who says your arrangement can’t look AND smell good?
How to Keep the Cutting Garden Looking Attractive
This is one of our favorite tricks: plant flowers so a few snips here and there will never be noticed. Group flowers by color. That way, when you clip several red flowers one day and a few yellow flowers the next day, there will still be plenty of color and the garden won’t look stripped. After all, it’s pretty rare that one chooses to have an all-red bouquet; that would leave a noticeable hole in the garden. This tip is all about planning ahead.
And in Addition to the Flowers . . .
Remember to add what florists refer to as “filler material”. Plants with lacy foliage (ferns, cosmos and Queen Anne’s lace) or broad, distinctive leaves (hostas in a huge array of colors, textures and sizes), make arrangements look full and lush. Silver leafed artemisia and the rainbow colors of new coleus varieties add tons of visual sparkle. And shrubs that produce colorful berries offer lots of textural interest. If you consider it beautiful or interesting, include it in your garden and bouquets.
Above all, have fun.