What is a Cut Flower Garden and How to Create One
Updated: Apr 8
I know that this sounds crazy, but I don’t like to cut the flowers in my garden. Everything is planted to achieve a certain “look”. Cutting the flowers disturbs this. And I know a lot of people are like this. So, what is the answer? A cut flower garden.
What is a cut flower garden?
It is a garden especially planted for you to pick the flowers. When I have added these to clients’ gardens in the past, I have either added them to the kitchen garden or close by. I have done this for a couple of reasons:
· Kitchen gardens are places where we are comfortable harvesting plants. These gardens are suited to the untidier look that goes with harvesting. And they are normally tucked away in an area of the garden that isn’t highly visible.
· For a kitchen garden to thrive it needs at least six hours of sun per day. Perfect conditions for most cut flowers.
My kitchen garden is filled with cut flowers like echinacea, sunflowers, nigella plus many different herbs which are used as fillers in my arrangements. Also note the grape vines, perfect for making wreaths.
· Plus, flowers in a kitchen garden are an essential as they bring in the bees and other pollinators. They can also act a companion plants or be used as sacrificial plants.
· And lastly, so many herbs and other plants in your kitchen garden are perfect to use in your floral arrangements.
This is a personal decision but at the end of the day you really have two options.
Firstly, you can plant in groups. This is where all your snapdragons etc are growing together. This is the option easiest for successional planting. The result is more formal and structured.
Secondly, this is what I do. I create a mini garden and mix my plants up. Plus, I do grow the edible flowers in amongst my herbs and veggies. This style is casual and natural. I love to forage so this is style is perfect for me.
But which ever way you go about it, remember to ensure plants are not being overshadowed by its neighbour. And you are planting like needs together. Also remember that some plants will need to be supported or staked.
In my mixed gardens, I use large branches laid down, crossing one another to support the plants. It gives a more natural look even during winter plus these branches provide places for insects to live, essential for a healthy garden.
In what I call my formal meadow garden, I prefer to grow my flowers through arches of strong fencing wire.
So, what should you plant?
To make this decision it might help to understand how to assemble a basic flower arrangement.
· Feature flower - This is the star of your arrangement. It is the one that will set the tone and colour scheme of your arrangement. You can either have one or several of these in your arrangement. Popular flowers for this role are roses, lilies, peonies and dahlias. Seeing the theme? These are normally larger and showier flowers.
· Support act – These flowers compliment your feature flower. Many of these are annuals and there is a large range to pick from.
· Fillers – These will provide texture and bulk out your arrangement. Most of the time these are leaves, grasses or seed pods.
My picks are grasses like bunny tails, bells of Ireland, seed pods of poppies, honesty and nigella, sea holly, Jerusalem sage, Geum Mrs Bradshaw's seed pods, hosta leaves, honeysuckle, billy buttons, lace flowers (Queen Anne’s Lace, Green Mist, Chocolate Lace) and the raspberry black cones of Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Arnhem’ - Great Burnet 'Arnhem'
I actually keep a supply of dried seed pods on hand all year round and re use them.
And of course, a classic bunch of one type of flower like sweet peas never goes out of fashion.
Armed with this knowledge look around your existing garden and start planning. For me, I am more than happy to grow my roses and peonies in my general garden plus larger plants like my lupins. I prefer to grow most of my annual cut flowers in the cutting garden as they become untidy with continual cutting. Grasses might be another one to consider for your cut garden as they can also get untidy.
Flowers like sunflowers, lavender and nigella I grow in with my kitchen garden plus lots other edible flowers.
So, as you can see it really depends on your personal taste and size of your property. It is always a good idea to start small and increase over time.