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!

Here’s how:

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:

black fountain 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:

cutting garden arrangement

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:

front bed

While you’re waiting, please send me your gardening questions – I love to hear from you!


  1. Hotly Spiced on July 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I love that gorgeous bunch of flowers – that’s so beautiful Sheri. Have a lovely weekend xx

    • sherisilver on July 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you – teacher gifts, straight out of the garden – have a great weekend too! xoxo

  2. Lisa on July 28, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Sheri, as always, your tips are wonderful. I’ve been wanting to plant more colorful flowers. I like your motto of paying less attention to rules and more to what makes you happy. I want a happy garden 🙂

    • sherisilver on July 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      You, my friend, would have nothing less than a happy garden! xo

  3. Kathy Radigan on August 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I love this post Sheri, and now I feel like I have permission to have the garden I want. As much as I love to see the Martha Stewart type cutting gardens,and would like to attempt one once in my life I do prefer the more eclectic grouping I have amassed through the years. I love your photos! Thank you for sharing your link and allowing us to feature you in Bonbon Break this week, I know our readers are going to love this post as much as I do!

    • sherisilver on August 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks so much – it’s been so fun working with you! 🙂

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