A Cutting Garden

        I enjoy having a cutting garden. The mix is enjoyable and a quick bouquet is sometimes just the thing to get me out of the doghouse after working much later than I should. The bouquets also make great last minutes gifts and thank you's. The gardens are easy to grow and are hindered only by the need of good light and your imagination. A surprising number  of plants can be used to make beautiful bunches of foliage and flower.

            Annuals that I use include the tall snapdragons, like the "Rocket" series(3'). These are tough plants that often survive our winters and come back for several years. The colors are bright and the flowers last well and show very well. Tall marigolds, like "Discovery" (Yellow) and Golden Eagle" (Orange) are easy to grow(3') and brighten up a bunch of flowers very well. Some people do not like the smell of marigolds. Zinnias are an old favorite(2-3') of the cutting garden. The large flowers come in yellows, white, reds, pinks, and other colors, as well as a range of flower types, like cactus flowered or dahlia flowered. One of my favorites, "Whirligig", has a bi-colored flower.

    Cosmos(4') is extremely easy to grow with an nice airy look. The colors range widely from white to pink and red and the flowers have a range of styles. There is "Seashells", which has a lightly cupping in the flower petals. A number of varieties offer bi-colored or picotee type flowers. Spider flower or Cleome(4')  is a tough drought resistant, when established, flower that thrives as temperatures rise. Both of these are dependable re-seeders in the right spot and can last for years in the same spot. They show when the weather turns warm and grow quickly at that time.

    Tithonia or Mexican Sunflower (3-4') is another that loves the heat and sun. This plant is found naturally along roadsides in Mexico. It can take drought conditions, but the plant looks better with a little moisture (key word is little). The orange or yellow flowers are bright and last long, if the cut ends are seared briefly with a flame.

   Other annuals include Tall Ageratum(3'), a great filler and brings some blue into the bouquet. Also the blue Salvia "Victoria"(2 1/2') is another great filler with good leaf and a nice blue flower.

   There are many perennials which can be used for cutting. Most perennials benefit from cutting the flowers off. This can extend the bloom and keep the plant clean looking and sharp. Agastache "Blue Fortune"(3') is one of my very favorites of the cutting flowers. First, it flowers for a long time- late June to September. The blue flower is perfect for bouquets, mixing with many other flowers. The leaf is a very nice complement, dark green with a licorice odor that is just fantastic. Also, easy to grow and undemanding.

   Shasta daisy "Becky" (3-4') is a strong growing, long blooming type of shasta daisy. The white flowers are clean looking and held on strong stems. The cone flowers or Echinacea(2-3') are also dependable bloomers and easy to grow perennials. These also have daisy like flowers in white, pink, or red. The stems are strong and good for cutting. I find the leaf is also effective in the bouquets.

    There are several varieties of rudbeckia or black eyed susans. The most well known is "Goldstrum". Also keep in mind the later blooming "Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida" and some of the larger growing varieties.

   I like to mix in the Persicaria "Red Dragon". The flowers are light and airy and the leaves add a fantastic touch at any time. The leaves of several hosta, like "Regal Splendor", can be used also to great effect. Also adding good foliage texture are the astilbes and ferns.


   A number of shrubs lend themselves to a cutting garden. A great one is Weigela "Wine and Roses"(4-5'). The dark leaves look great, even without the pink mid-spring flowers. Also along the same lines is the purple ninebark, "Diablo", with dark leaves and pink summer flowers. Don't forget such seasonal favorites, like forsythia and pussy willow.