Flowers for the dinner table all summer long
May 6, 2005
The idea of a cutting garden is something that is catching on around America. It’s long been a staple of Europe and the United Kingdom, where taking a bouquet of flowers to hosts is much more common than taking wine.
Oh, what is a cutting garden?
It’s a place where homeowners plants flowers and foliage with the idea of cutting them at the appropriate times to decorate the home or as bouquets at parties. Cutting gardens were common in Colonial America, from Mount Vernon to rural New England.
“The founding fathers placed flowers for the soul on par with food for the bodies,” said Sally Ferguson, director of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center. “It’s an easy, satisfying and cost-effective way to enjoy cut flowers all summer long.”
The idea withered for a while as cut flowers became common in supermarkets and elsewhere. But if a homeowner has a plot of land, perhaps a little out of the way and not part of the regular garden, that’s the place for a cutting garden. (Check http://www.urbanext.uici.edu/ for some details.)
Lots of flowering plants fit into a cutting garden. Long-stemmed annuals or perennials are most useful because they go into vases well. Usually colorful annual flowers dominate these gardens because they are such enthusiastic bloomers. Cutting blossoms only encourages them to flower anew.
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Daisies are enormously popular and combine well with lots of other flowers. Long blooming perennials have a place in the cutting garden as well as in the more formal flower border.
Plants such as coral bells and fringed bleeding heart will produce flowers all season, especially if they are regularly picked. Purple coneflowers and black-eyed susans produce bold, bristly seedheads that are ideal for floral crafts.
Perennials can be depended upon to bloom next season – no need to replant that part of the cutting garden. Foliage plants contribute texture and color to both fresh and dried arrangements.
Silver-leafed artemisia varieties, lamb’s ears and herbs such as lavender offer grayish-silver foliage that is both handsome and aromatic. The following is a list of suggested annuals, perennials and foliage plants from the University of Illinois.
It’s still spring, the last frost has just about come and gone, so now’s time to get that cutting garden going. Maybe we should call it a source garden. Doesn’t sound as final.
Annuals for a cutting garden (* indicates good for drying also)
Ageratum (Floss Flower)
Amaranthus caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding)
Ammi majus (Bishop’s Flower)
Bells of Ireland
Callisstephus chinesis (China Aster)
Celosia, cristate (Cockscomb)*
Celosia, plumosa (Feather)*
Celosia, spicata (Wheat)*
Centaurea (Bachelors’ Button)
Cleome (Spider Flower)
Dimorphoteca sinuata (Cape Marigold
Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth)*
Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath)
Nigella damascena (Love-In-A- Mist
Reseda Odorata (Mignonette)
Scabiosa (Pincushion flower)
Perennials for a cutting garden
Chrysanthemum, such as Shasta Daisy
Dianthus, deltoids (Pinks)
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
Echinops exaltatus (Globe Thistle)*
Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath)*
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
Poppy, Shirley or Iceland
Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)
Foliage for a cutting garden
Euphorbia (Snow on the Mountain)
– Contact Sam Bauman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1236.