Monday, March 3, 2008

Growing a Cutting Garden


Please note that this wonderful series about using flowers in the home was written by Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Flowers. Visit her blog and web site for more great ideas.

Many gardeners grow flowers to create fresh bouquets for their homes, or to give away to friends, but they also want to be able to enjoy the beauty of their garden itself. In my case, I need to be able to harvest many of my flowers for my pressed flower business. Can one have it both ways?

Well, yes and no. The ideal solution is to have a cutting garden – a utilitarian flower garden dedicated solely to the production of flowers.

A cutting garden is ideally placed in a side yard or someplace generally out of site. Because this is a production garden, design correctness isn’t as important as making sure flowers are placed as close together as they can tolerate, and that they receive an optimal amount of daily sunshine.

Set up your cutting garden as you would any garden, in a well drained location with plenty of peat moss and soil amendments as. I use my vegetable garden as my primary cutting and pressed flower garden. Some of the flowers weave in and out of the vegetables, and the flowers end up beautifying the vegetable garden, yet they aren’t missed when I’ve cut them. If you have a separate dedicated space, plant your flowers in long narrow rows, for easy harvesting. It’s also a good ideas to plant annuals in succession, with early season, mid-season, and late season bloomers each grouped together – just read your seed packets to determine what blooms when. To encourage flower production, pick blossoms regularly. Remove faded blossoms (called deadheading) as this prevents them from forming seeds, which slows down flower production.

Your choice of what to plant is almost limitless, but as a rule, long-stemmed annuals and perennials make the best cut flowers. Include some foliage plants for texture and color in arrangements and floral bouquets.

Your local university extension office can give you a list tailored for your location, but here’s a brief list of flowers that I have found to work well here in Wisconsin.

Annuals: zinnia, cosmos, small sunflower, larkspur, calendula, pansies, statice, sweet pea, scabiosa, baby’s breath, strawflower, celosia, dianthus

Perennials: black-eyed Susan, yarrow, coneflower, huechera, delphinium, Russian sage, Shasta daily, foxglove, asters, and mums.

Foliage: hostas, artemisia (silver-leafed varieties), coleus, lavender, dusty miller, and lamb's ears.

In case you might be interested, here's a list of flowers that press well.

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