Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Step out the door, and harvest your own cut flowers. A cutting garden is a dream come true.
Plan your cutting garden carefully, and you’ll have an ample supply of fresh cut flowers all summer long.
Choose a good spot for your cutting garden. It should be sunny with a well-drained, reasonably rich soil. The plants will produce a lot more flowers if they receive at least six hours of sun daily. If the garden is in partial shade, choose shade-loving flowers.
Cutting gardens are treated much as we would vegetable gardens. Things are planted in simple rows.
I established my cutting garden by tilling up part of the lawn. It is close to the kitchen, so I don’t have to walk very far for fresh flowers.
Annuals, perennials, grasses, herbs, and bulbs are suitable plants for cutting gardens. All of the annuals should be grouped together. This makes it easier if you want to till the area in the spring before planting.
On the other hand, perennials remain in the same spot year after year until they need dividing.
All sorts of plants are suitable for cutting gardens. Perennials are great because they come back year after year. Be sure and include some annuals. Their stems will be available when the perennials aren’t in bloom.
In addition to annual and perennial flowers, some ornamental grasses are well-suited to the cutting garden.
You may also want to include some wildflowers for cutting. Instead of choosing individual kinds, why not buy a suitable wildflower mix? American Meadows offers the Instant Bouquet Garden. This mix features many kinds of wildflowers for cutting gardens. They are easy to grow and quick to bloom.
Some garden centers may carry other suitable wildflower mixes, such as The Wild Cutting Garden from Potting Shed Creations.
To minimize weeds in the cutting garden I spread aged wood chips, or straw around the plants. I also put a thick layer of mulch between the rows as a means of weed control. I’ve tried plastic, but found it was slippery during rainy weather. For that reason I switched to the organic mulches.
As an aid in planning your cutting garden, I highly recommend “An American Cutting Garden-A Primer For Growing Cut Flowers” by Suzanne McIntire, published by the University of Virginia Press. If you’re planning a cutting garden, you need this book. She walks you through every step of the process—from planning and preparing the garden to choosing and harvesting the plants. She has four sample cutting gardens, including an easy one for beginners. She has thorough details and descriptions of 200 plants along with very helpful appendices.
To help you choose annuals and perennials for the cutting garden, I’ll have separate articles for each of these in weeks to come.