I’ve grown a cutting garden for three years. Every year I dream of sitting down on a cold wintry day by the fire with catalogs and a sketchpad to layout my garden plans. Yet somehow each year winter comes and goes, and I find myself standing in my local nursery planning in their space instead of my own. This year was different.
There is something ironic about putting together a cutting garden. It’s purpose is to be constructed, then deconstructed by cutting the flowers in order to create bouquets. Sometimes, to benefit from the assembly, we must disassemble.
I plan my cutting garden with a few goals in mind. It’s about experiencing the amazing alchemy of seed to bloom. I also want to add to our landscape in the summer, and grow flowers to cut for our own home and to share with others. It is a bonus that it gives me something to photograph too.
With my purpose defined, I choose varying heights of flowers and a color scheme. The catalogs are filled with so many choices, but I pick flowers that I find uniquely interesting and intriguing. Once my plan in place, I’m excited to observe this living piece of art molding itself throughout the summer and into early fall.
I’ve been reading about preparing each seed for planting. Some I can plant directly in the ground, while others will need to be planted in starter pots in April. I’ve scheduled dates on my calendar to order seeds. I’ve also circled dates to plant indoors, as well as the likely time I will be able to plant outdoors after the last frost of the season. I’ll also need to check if I have enough bamboo and twine to create the bamboo trellises. The final steps include weeding the beds ahead of planting the seeds or seedlings, and then I will look forward to reaping the rewards.
I feel more accomplished than I have any other year in assembling this coming year’s cutting garden. I know during the cold, dark days of New England’s winter, this garden will keep me looking forward to my favorite season of all – summer, with all that blooms and inspires me.
Plant List for A Flower Cutting Garden
Mounding Nasturtiums Cherries Jubilee – (Tropaeolum majus). The bright red color is not traditionally seen in Nasturtiums.
Coreopsis Double Sunburst (Coreopsis lanceolate) – Easy to grow even in poor soils, this plant sports blooms all season and generally has an attractive, sunny disposition.
Parkland Glory Dahlia – A burst of orange sunshine in my garden, I dig up the tubers in the fall, store them for the winter and replant these every spring.
Black Swan Poppy – (Papaver somniferum) – This black/burgundy poppy’s fun petals are texturally unusual.
Teddy Bear Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – My favorite sunflower has many, many petals that resemble a very huggable puffball.
Cardinal Climber ((Ipomoea x multifida) – I grow this in memory of my father-in-law because we always think of him when we see a cardinal (bird) – and the hummingbirds are attracted to it.
Rose Ball English Daisy (Bellis perennis) – The pure sweetness of this flower is only part of the reason to love it. The blooms also are among the largest of daisies – growing to as much as 6” in diameter.
Chocolate Morning Glory (Ipomoea nil) – These huge blooms are a soft chocolate pink color – more like a milkshake than candy bar.
Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) – I am drawn to the exotic blue color. The seeds are tricky to find, and have a reputation for being hard to grow. But I am lured by their beauty and going to give it a try.
Siberian Iris (Iris chrysographes) – A perennial I inherited from the previous homeowner, these irises come in a variety of shades of purple. This near black variety is probably Iris chrysographes.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata) – I like this flower as they attract the Japanese beetles, keeping them away from the other flowers. Start seeds early indoors or do as I do, and purchase potted plants from a local nursery.
White Sweet Pea (High Scent) (Lathyrus odoratus) – This variety has long stems for cutting has a strong, sweet and delicious scent.
Straw Flowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum) – I love their crispy texture and the how the petals sound like paper rustling.
Rocky Mountain Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea) – The details of this native Columbine have always intrigued me and the foliage of this variety resembles a maidenhair fern.
Hollyhock the Watchman (Alcea rosea) – I love the rich and deep color of this variety of Hollyhocks and they are a very popular cottage garden plant.
Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana) – In flowers and in life, I am attracted to whimsical things. Also known as grandfathers whiskers, these spindly blooms are eye catching and unique.
Scarlet Flax (Linum grandiflorum rubrum) – It is a profusion of delicate petals and brilliant red color. Unfortunately, the blooms only last a day, so it won’t be a great flower for bouquets, but it will enliven my cutting garden.
Black Cat Dahlia – These dark beauties add mystery and excitement to the garden and bouquets.
Love In A Mist (Nigella damascene) – The seed pod is just as interesting as the ethereal blue flowers. Both the flower and pod are great in arrangements.
Deep Red Dahlias (I suggest Dahlia Boom Boom Red of for a laciniated petal or Dahlia Barbarosa, a semi cactus variety) – Mine were a gift from a friend’s garden. I love a deep red color in my arrangements.
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Seeds can be found at Renee’s Garden, Swallowtail Gardens, Botanical Interests and Baker Creek Seeds. Dahlias can be purchased at American Meadows, Longfield Gardens, Holland Bulb Farms, and Big Dahlias.