Summer bouquets are a bargain when you can pick flowers from your garden!
In Grandmother's day, cutting flowers were grown in rows like crops in the vegetable garden, where color was welcome but soon forgotten as blooms went indoors with the beans. Today, flowers bring beauty first to beds and borders, then to bouquets. We design cutting gardens much like we arrange flowers in a vase, combining a lively assortment of hues, heights, textures, and bloom types.
Every bloom is worthy of a bouquet, but some of the best cutting flowers are old-fashioned favorites, such as snapdragon, zinnia, heliotrope, sweet pea, cleome, and cosmos. Quick to flower from seed, these annuals perform all summer. Equally at home in a vase are long-blooming perennials, such as liatris, rudbeckia, coneflower, hollyhock, and helianthus.
Snapdragons thrive in cool spring weather, but new hybrids of this annual bloom through summer heat.
Though pretty in pinks, everlasting statice and fresh-as-a-daisy cosmos come in other hues too.
Purple spiked blooms on liatris -- a tough prairie perennial -- can be cut for fresh or dried bouquets. Stately hollyhocks and stocky statice add beauty to both borders and bouquets.
Sunshine and good soil are the essential ingredients to growing armloads of flowers. Turn the earth to a spade's depth, mixing in compost or peat moss to improve drainage.
Ammis with delphinium and Larkspur
After frost danger is past, set in transplants at the suggested spacing. If you're starting from seeds, use bonemeal to outline a clump for each variety. Sow seeds evenly, not in rows; cover with soil to the proper depth.
Paths make maintenance chores easier
Keep the soil moist until seedlings become established. After that, water as needed, each time thoroughly saturating the soil to promote a deep root system. A mulch of straw, shredded bark, or cocoa bean hulls will help prevent weeds. Encourage nonstop blooming by feeding annuals every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
The best time to pick flowers is late afternoon, after morning dew dries and midday heat subsides. With a garden full of flowers in every stage of bloom, be choosy about which stems you cut for indoor bouquets. Bypass buds that are so tight they'll never open and fully open blooms that will soon fade.
White lace flower (Ammi majus), an annual, pairs prettily with the purple spires of perennial delphinium. If kept picked, flowers such as larkspur will bloom longer in the season.
Cut stems at an angle and place promptly in a pail of tepid water.
Stock with snaps and Lilies
Revive wilting blooms by cutting stems again underwater to help them absorb moisture.
Reduce decay by stripping from stems all leaves that would otherwise be below the waterline of the finished bouquet.
Bolster the sagging stems of heavy blossoms by inserting a toothpick through the center of the bloom and into the stem.
Place your bouquet in a cool location, away from direct sunlight and drying drafts.
Prolong the life of your bouquet by replacing the water daily, each time adding a floral preservative to the water.
Above: The sweet, clove-like fragrance of stock enhancesthe beauty of the bouquet, which includes asters, snapdragons, and astilbe.
Below: To add drama to your dinner table, consider the lilies of your garden. Orange and yellow Enchantment lilies are even more elegant when combined with dainty white yarrow (Achillea Millefolium).
Above: Enjoy summer's bright colors year-round by turning the fresh flowers into an everlasting bouquet. To dry, hang the bundled stems of yarrow, statice, larkspur, and sea lavender upside down in a dark, ventilated place.
Below: Fresh or dried, white lace flowers heighten the blue hues of iris, statice, sea lavender, and liatris.
-A sweet scent is one of the best benefits of a flower garden. The right flowers will make you stop and enjoy both their color and their fragrance. Many plants released more of their fragrance in the evening especially the flower ones. Be sure to plant them along your walkway where you can enjoy their scents after work. Nicotiana or Flowering Tobacco is a very easy annual to grow. This variety is called Woodland Nicotiana, it's very old-fashioned highly fragrant especially at night and can grow 6 feet tall. Annual Sweet Peas are favorite old-fashioned flower that can climb on the fence or trailers. They bloom in spring but burned out once it gets hot. Be sure to plant your seeds in the ground early. Most roses are fragrant, but old-fashioned roses are among the most fragrant. This is a Dwarf Rugosa Rose called Frau Karl Druskchki. Rugosas are tough as nails and very fragrant. They are known as the Beach Rose in the Eastern U.S. because they are often found growing along shore line. People don't often think about Petunias when they think about fragrant flowers. But they can be highly fragrant especially in the evening. Petunias come in many colors and bi-colors but the white ones are among the most fragrance. Old-fashioned varieties typically have more scent than the newer hybrids. Phlox is an extra-ordinary fragrant summer blooming perennial. It's drought resistant and comes in a wide variety of colors. It blooms mid-summer right up until frost. In shady spots, you can still have fragrant flowers too. May varieties of hostess are sweetly scented. Read the labels to make sure the variety you're considering is fragrance. A fragrant flower garden is one of the best part of summer, add some scented varieties to your garden this year.