Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
If you’re considering growing some of your own cut or dried flowers, what you need is information on cutting gardens. Cutting gardens are unlike other flower beds or borders. We need our cutting gardens to be practical places that will hopefully yield large numbers of stems for use in our floral designs.
Some general gardening books may have individual chapters on starting a cutting garden. But, there are also some titles devoted entirely to cutting gardens or cut flowers. Let’s look at some of the best books on the subject.
“An American Cutting Garden-A Primer for Growing Cut Flowers”
By Suzanne McIntire, this was published by the University Press of Virginia. This has become a classic. Intended as a regional guide for those living where the winters are cold and the summers are hot, it is nonetheless very helpful for those gardening in other areas.
This comprehensive guide will help the reader plan, create, and plant cutting gardens with complete how-to information from start to finish. Separate chapters are devoted to plant care, and harvesting the stems.
What I particularly like about this book is that the author discusses gardens for specific situations. Among these are an easy cutting garden for novices, a cutting garden for shade, a fall blooming cutting garden, and a small cutting garden. With each example, the author explains which plants to grow and the particular details that you will need.
There is an A-Z encyclopedia featuring 200 kinds of plants for cutting gardens. For each plant, there is an in-depth discussion of what makes it desirable as a cut flower and the care the plant needs. The appendix contains a number of helpful tables, such as a sequence of bloom and how to grow your own seedlings indoors under lights.
“Specialty Cut Flowers”
This second edition from Timber Press is by Allan M. Armitage and Judy M. Laushman, two leading experts in the field. This groundbreaking deals with all sorts of plants that are used for cut and dried flowers, including trees, shrubs, bulbs, and herbaceous plants.
I recommend this for anyone with a serious interest in growing their own flowers. In some cases, the depth of information goes beyond the needs of the novice. But, when you’re no longer satisfied with ordinary flowers, then this book definitely has the answers. While the bulk of the book is the A-Z encyclopedia of cut or dried flowers, there is much more here. Separate chapters are devoted to postharvest care as well as drying and preserving.
This has a helpful appendix with lists and information on a host of subjects, such as additional plants that aren’t discussed in the A-Z section, and a listing telling when to harvest each kind.
In the A-Z encyclopedia, there is complete information on each kind, the propagation method, how to grow it, evaluation of how well it performs in the field and greenhouse, harvest, vase live, and other postharvest details, how to grow and care for the plants, the cultivars, and the personal experiences of commercial growers.
“The Flower Farmer-An Organic Growers’ Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers”
By Lynn Byczynski, this is a Gardener’s Supply Book that was published by Chelsea Green.
Whether you’re growing flowers for your own use or are considering doing it for profit, this book is very helpful. The author provides in-depth information on every aspect of the subject, including how to choose varieties, how to start the plants, how to harvest, and how to arrange them. Separate chapters are devoted to field-grown flowers, dried flowers, and woody plants.
If you ever have plans to become a commercial flower grower, this book will be invaluable. It has chapters that will be helpful, explaining every step of the marketing process. Those with an interest in everlastings will find complete details on the different drying methods.
Novices will find this to be especially useful with all the comprehensive how-to details on subjects, including a section on a beginner’s annual cutting garden. This is illustrated with photos as well as line drawings. The appendix has an A-Z encyclopedia of plants for cutting gardens. This gives complete details, including the postharvest care and vase life as well as the recommended varieties.