A cutting garden that stands apart from ornamental beds and borders lets you have a home full of beautiful blooms all year round—all you need is a little careful planning
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Harvesting armfuls of fresh flowers from your garden—like growing vegetables and picking fruit from your own trees—gives the joy of growing real purpose. The reaction against wasteful “flower miles” means cutting gardens are enjoying a resurgence: traditional flower farms are springing up again, and flower fields for cutting are being designed into large gardens and country estates. We asked the experts how to plan the perfect garden for fresh, seasonal blooms throughout the year.
1. Plan your plot You’ll need a sunny spot with fertile, well-drained soil, ideally shielded from the rest of the estate—low evergreen hedging or a picket fence works well. Professional growers recommend you work in simple rectangular blocks or rows, with practical consideration given to maintenance. Ease of reach is a priority.
Erin Benzakein from Floret Flower Farm in Washington’s Skagit Valley recommends long beds around three feet wide for easy access from either side. Kathleen Murphy from New York state’s Primrose Hill Flower Company adds: “My greatest struggle with becoming a flower farmer was not thinking like a gardener,” she says. “In my gardens, I planted large, curvy swathes of color. Now, I had to plant in evenly spaced rows. Initially, I created beds that were much too wide, and staking was another challenge.” Murphy now designs beds 60 feet by three feet, and she stakes her young plants carefully before they even begin to grow.
We grow our flowers organically, so compost, natural fertilizers, mulch, and foliar compost tea treatments are essential items in our toolbox
2. Protect and nourish Protecting your cutting garden from hungry deer, rabbits, and woodchucks is another consideration, along with soil nutrition and irrigation. At Floret Flower Farm, Benzakein nourishes the soil every season: “We grow our flowers organically, so compost, natural fertilizers, mulch, and foliar compost tea treatments are essential items in our toolbox.”
Canadian floral designer and master gardener Clare Monica Day also offers useful advice: “Consider grouping plants by their need for water: grow drought-tolerant plants next to each other, and locate water-hungry plants in a separate block.”
3. Make it beautiful Blocks of single plants, grown en masse, create the greatest impact: English gardener and author Sarah Raven advocates placing blocks of stronger colors in the foreground, with whites and pale colors fading off into the distance; Murphy recommends planting young seedlings of small plants seven to nine inches apart, and larger varieties a foot apart.
4. Choose your plants carefully Your most challenging task will then be deciding between hundreds of exquisite flower varieties. Ideally, your plot should have a mix of annuals (pretty, short-lived plants such as nigella and cosmos), perennials (showstoppers such as peony and delphinium), shrubs that remain in the ground for many years (rose, hydrangea, and lilac), as well as bulbs (tulips, daffodils, alliums, and lilies), and tubers (dahlias are a must for every cutting garden).
Combine a variety of flower shapes—daisies, spires, plumes, globes, and umbellifers—and introduce a few foliage plants and evergreen herbs. Drought-tolerant plants from the Southern Hemisphere, including protea, kniphofia, and watsonia, make beautiful cut flowers in hot, dry climates.
We cut our flowers first thing in the morning or at dusk, and we always put a drop of bleach in the vase water
5. Timing is everything Day has a clever suggestion for year-long displays: “Choose a minimum of three flowers for each growing window,” she says. “In other words, three flowers that will bloom in early spring, three for mid-spring, late spring, early summer, and so on. This simple approach will give you a continuous supply of blooms throughout the season.”
6. Keep it clean Murphy recommends “clean-cutting” to help your flower display look beautiful for longer. “We clean every item that will touch the flower stems with bleach, including secateurs and containers,” she says. “Ideally, we cut our flowers first thing in the morning or at dusk, and we always put a drop of bleach in the vase water.”
7. Ask the experts Guidance for budding flower growers is easy to find. Floret Flower Farm’s Cut Flower Garden condenses Benzakein’s expertise into 300 beautifully illustrated pages. She also offers the Floret Online Workshop, a six-week video-based course.
Instagram is another source of inspiration—Becky Crowley (@beckycrowley_), head gardener at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England, grows cut flowers for the stately home and regularly posts her bounty.
Author:Marilyn Cortez Phone: 956-587-1633 Dated: July 23rd 2018 Views: 299 About Marilyn: Always ahead of the highly competitive RGV real estate market, Marilyn Cortez is a Spanish speaking ...
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Always ahead of the highly competitive RGV real estate market, Marilyn Cortez is a Spanish speaking native of the Rio Grande Valley. Born and raised in Mission, Marilyn is committed to her clients, and is recognized as a Top Agent in the Greater McAllen Real Estate area, and within Keller Williams Realty. Since the start of her Real Estate career in 2007, she has sold over 40 million dollars of real estate. Known by her fellow real estate agents to be hardworking, honest, dedicated and motivated, Marilyn is knowledgeable in all areas of Real Estate and has built her business on results, with more than 70% of her clients being repeat clients.