Homegrown Bouquets

Creating Your Own Cutting Garden: A Guide to Homegrown Bouquets

Are you dreaming of fresh, vibrant bouquets straight from your garden to your kitchen table? Discover the joy and simplicity of starting a cutting garden! This guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

A cutting garden is exactly what it sounds like: a dedicated space for growing flowers and foliage to cut for bouquets. Historically, cutting gardens were part of vegetable gardens, but today, they are thriving as standalone spaces, thanks in part to the farm-to-table movement.

Erin Benzakein, the owner of Floret Flower Farm in Mount Vernon, Washington, has inspired countless gardeners to embrace locally-grown flowers as a sustainable alternative to imported blooms. Erin’s generosity in sharing her knowledge has made her a legend in the gardening community, and her website is packed with free mini-courses and videos to guide home gardeners in creating their own cutting gardens.

Why Start a Cutting Garden?

Starting a cutting garden allows you to enjoy fresh flowers throughout the season. These gardens are usually tucked away out of sight, similar to vegetable gardens, serving as practical “flower pantries.” They’re not only beautiful but beneficial too; flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects, enhancing the productivity of your entire garden.

Expanding a vegetable garden to include a cutting garden is a win-win. The flowers will draw more pollinators and beneficial insects, boosting the productivity of your vegetables. Additionally, your vegetable garden is likely already protected from deer, which can help safeguard your flowers as well.

Designing Your Cutting Garden

A sunny plot of roughly 3 feet by 8 feet, packed with annuals and perennials planted in rows or blocks, is generally adequate to keep your home in bloom throughout the season. The bigger your garden, the more volume and variety you can grow. Here’s how to get started:

Selecting Your Plants

Choose a mix of primary flowers, secondary flowers, and foliage to create diverse and stunning arrangements:

  • Primary Flowers: Zinnias and cosmos are staples for their vibrant colors and long blooming periods.
  • Secondary Flowers: Salvia and ageratum add texture and complement the primary flowers.
  • Foliage and Fillers: Ornamental basils and grasses not only add greenery but also enhance the overall appearance of your bouquets.

These cutting garden stalwarts are popular for their prolific blooms and ease of cultivation. They are readily available as small plants at garden centers in the spring. Many gardeners also opt to start zinnias and cosmos from seed, as well as hard-to-find annuals, to get the individual colors and varieties they want for their arrangements.

Layout and Planting

Plant annuals and perennials in soldier’s rows or blocks to maximize space and ensure continuous blooming. Annuals tend to produce flowers all summer long, especially if picked regularly to prevent them from going to seed. In contrast, perennials usually bloom for two or three weeks at a set time, such as early spring or late summer. However, they are valuable for their unique colors and forms that complement annuals and add extra interest to arrangements.

Essential Plants for Your Cutting Garden

Annuals/Flowers:

  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos
  • Salvia
  • Ageratum
  • Gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Gomphrena
  • Scabiosa
  • Celosia
  • Snapdragons
  • Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi majus)
  • Marigolds
  • Verbena bonariensis
  • Sunflowers
  • Dahlias

Annuals/Foliage:

  • Mints
  • Basils
  • Herbs
  • Grasses
  • Honeywort (Cerinthe)
  • Cress (Lepidium)
  • Scented geraniums

Perennials/Flowers and Foliage:

  • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
  • Rudbeckia triloba
  • Achillea
  • Herbaceous alliums
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • Baptisia
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Hellebores (need shade)
  • Peonies
  • Irises
  • Roses
  • Clematis
  • Hydrangeas

Planting Bulbs for Early Spring Blooms

Fall-planted bulbs are invaluable for cutting gardens, providing early spring flowers before the perennials start blooming and long before the soil warms enough for annuals. Daffodils, tulips, alliums, and hyacinths can supply 4-6 weeks of flowers. Daffodils are often planted outside the cutting garden to allow their foliage to cure, while tulips, which are not reliably perennial, are frequently grown as annuals.

Making the Garden Your Own

Remember, there are no “wrong” flowers for your cutting garden. Plant what you love and make the space uniquely yours. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice, a cutting garden offers endless possibilities for creativity and enjoyment.

Start your cutting garden today and bring the beauty of homegrown bouquets into your home!

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