I used to think that a cutting garden was a luxury, reserved solely for people with large properties and lots of room for multiple gardens. I envisioned the horticultural equivalent of a fancy retail store – with row upon row of identical plants, providing a non-stop supply of pretty (do you think I read too much Martha Stewart?).
And while that vision certainly sounds lovely (at least to me), it doesn’t really mesh with conventional garden design – where you have a variety of evergreens, shrubs and flowers, blooming at different heights and times of the year.
But since so many of my clients ask for gardens “with flowers for cutting”, I’ve come up with a few tricks for creating traditional front yard gardens that also serve as cutting beds - and you can too!
Plan for year-round interest. With a little careful planning, (and the help of a great gardening book or two), you can have something in bloom in at least 3 out of 4 seasons. Start early with spring bulbs, go into summer with flowering shrubs and perennials, and finish up the season with some fall bloomers. Shrubs with pretty fall foliage or unusual stems mean that you can have a variety of material to work, with even late into the year.
Think beyond “the bloom”. Pick at least a few plants that have features other than pretty flowers. This will extend the plant’s season of interest, and add another dimension to your arrangements. A great example is Solomon’s Seal:
This plant blooms very early in my area – with little dangling white flowers. And when the plant finishes blooming, you’re left with lovely, variegated foliage on nice upright stems – that look great in arrangements. Take a look at my post on plants that boast great foliage for more!
Another non-flowering plant to consider is ornamental grass:
Most grasses – like this black fountain grass – produce striking plumes that look so pretty combined with a variety of perennials.
Finally – plant what makes YOU happy. Which is the most important gardening rule of all. When planning your cutting garden, think about what you will love to display in your home. Maybe it’s a bold, simple statement – one color but lots of it:
or something small and sweet, with lots of variety:
Either way, the result should be something that gives you pleasure – don’t get too caught up in “the rules”.
In my next article I’ll share my front garden with you – it’s a perfect example of a modestly sized bed that functions as a proper foundation garden, but provides lots of plants for bringing indoors too. Here’s a peek:
While you’re waiting, please send me your gardening questions – I love to hear from you!