If you have a creative side and have some room to plant flowers, cutting gardens can be a fun and rewarding way to surround one’s self with beautiful flowers indoors as well as outdoors for parties.
This year, I chose to give up one of my raised beds I usually grow vegetables in and decided to plant an array of beautiful annual flowers for cutting and displaying. For a gardener, the ultimate pleasure is to cut flowers from their own garden to bring indoors or give to family and friends.
One of the upsides to having a cutting garden: there is no need to feel guilty about cutting or picking the flower. Choose a place out of sight from the public eye — tuck them in a sunny spot along a back boundary in a neglected corner or behind a garage.
First, decide what type of flowers and foliage to plant. Pick hardy flowers that hardy stay fresh once they are cut. Remember, this is a production garden created to cut, so you do not have to worry about design.
There are many types of flowers, but some of the favorites for cutting are zinnias, dahlias, asters, yarrow, ageratum, coneflower, black-eyed Susan and many varieties of sunflowers.
Plant a mixture of annual and perennials to have something in bloom at all times. Remember perennials come back year after year and often bloom early or late in the growing season. Annuals grow fast and most of them will produce all summer long.
Combine a variety of flower forms and sizes. Include tall spiky blooms, such as snapdragon and lilies. Select plants with sturdy stems and showy colors.
Don’t forget foliage plants for color and texture indoors. Silver-leafed plants such as lambs ear and dusty miller are great additions to a bouquet for added interest. Summer coleus plants provide sunny colors for backdrops.
Don’t forget bulbs. Bulbs provide showy, fragrant color. Cold-loving bulbs such as tulips, crocus, iris and daffodils can be planted in the fall for early spring cuttings.
Prepare a cutting garden the same way you would establish a flower garden. Choose a site that receives generous sun and prepare the soil so it drains well. Add compost material to improve the soil if it is sandy or clay. Create one or more beds of whatever size and shape the selected space will accommodate.
Choose a site with easy access to water. Arrange the garden for easy care and cutting. Planting arrangements in straight rows or three-foot wide beds for easy access is usually the best way to arrange flowers. There needs to be room where you can walk and get between the plants.
To produce abundant blooms, water, fertilize and cut flowers regularly. Cut flowering stems as they begin to bloom. This triggers most annuals and some perennials to yield more flowers. Harvest flowers early in the morning using a sharp knife or floral shears and place in water.
Once you have collected the cut flowers, it is time to make the arrangement. Consider the size of the vase or container and begin. Build your arrangement in your hands and twist half a turn after each addition. When it is just the way you want it, give the stems a fresh cut and insert the bouquet into a watered vase and you are done!
Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.