The Cutting Garden
Mention a cutting garden, and perhaps the vision of orderly rows of flowers in a corner of the vegetable patch spring to mind. Certainly, this is how cutting gardens originated, but cutting gardens can easily be incorporated into an existing perennial bed or border.
Flowers for the cutting garden
The plants used in a cutting garden are lovely to behold, and the flowers used offer double-duty both in the display bed and in the vase.
You probably are already growing many plants that work well in arrangements. Shasta daisy, tall coreopsis, and garden phlox are a few examples of plants that many of us grow that work well in flower arrangements. No surprise, peonies and lilacs can also double as extras in the cutting garden.
The principles are the same as when planning any garden site: Prepare the soil, add tons of organic matter and compost, use a balanced organic fertilizer, water, and mulch.
When harvesting flowers from the cutting garden, or areas of your perennial bed that have flowers you are going to harvest for arrangements, remember to cut blooms during the coolest part of the day, in the early morning. Keep a bucket of lukewarm water handy to plunge the cut ends of the stems in the water immediately. Some flowers begin to seal over the cut almost immediately, which will definitely shorten the lifespan of the flower in the vase. You don’t need to add a floral preservative at this point, just keep the stem ends immersed in water until you get back inside to arrange them in the vase.
Here are a few plants to consider for the cutting garden:
|Ammi, Bishop’s Flower
||Bells of Ireland
|Coreopsis, taller types
||Calla lilies (tender bulb)
||Dianthus, Taller pinks
|Gladiolus (Tender Bulb)
|Heuchera, Coral Bells
||Salvias, Taller Types
A few things to keep in mind when selecting plants for a cutting garden: Choose plants that are taller varieties. For example, if a label states a snapdragon is a good bedding plant, it might be a smaller or shorter form. Tall varieties are what we are generally looking for. Another thing is to plant a large grouping of a particular plant. It is better to grow only three or four particular plants for cutting in a larger mass than a little bit of this and that!
Try adding a few annuals to the border that are also good for cutting. When spring comes, sow seeds of some zinnias, annual bachelor’s buttons, and other flowers for cutting among your perennials. Not only will they be there for your indoor bouquets, they will also help to carry over the color show as the different perennials finish their bloom cycles.
Once you have your flowers indoors, cut another quarter inch of stem off and plunge them into a 50:50 solution of lemon-lime soda and water with one or two drops of bleach to the gallon. This same solution can be used to feed the flowers in the vase, and will keep well in the refrigerator. Change water daily, and be sure no leaves or flower buds are left underwater in the vase to decay.
Grow your own flowers for arrangements! Cutting gardens are a great way to enjoy your flowers in the home as well as outdoors, so share your place and space with a few flowers for cutting!