In search of a beautiful bouquet without paying a lot of money for fresh cut flowers? A cutting garden is a budget-friendly option since it's located in an easy-access spot at home where you can snip to your heart's content.
Think of the entire backyard as a bouquet-worthy garden that looks as good outside as it does indoors. "I always ask myself what I need for my vase," says landscape designer Jill Slater. "Greens and flowers in a variety of different sizes and shapes — that's what I'm thinking about when planting in the ground."
To determine what plants to use in your cut-flower garden, pick favorites that complement your home's style and colors. Use annuals for season-long color in the garden; globe amaranth, salvia, cockscomb, cosmos and sunflower are just a few excellent options that can be gathered throughout the summer months. Perennials also are great to add for fleeting color across the seasons; consider growing coneflower, black-eyed Susan, beebalm, yarrow and balloon flower.
There are many herbs and other flowering plants that offer another dimension: fragrance. Roses and lavender are tried-and-true cut flowers that are beautiful in a bouquet and make the whole room smell delicious.
Bouquet gardens should be filled with blooms that have presence and structure. The flowers of rhododendron are practically a bouquet in itself. Foxglove has a tall flower spike that can add height and drama to a floral arrangement.
Foliage is important to use as a filler for the flowers or as a background for the focal point of an arrangement. "Greenery is the foundation of many flower arrangements," says Jill.
In nature, greenery is the leaves attached to the plant, but in a bouquet, you have several choices. Tropical foliage, such as ginger and New Zealand flax, offers unique structural elements. Foliage from trees, shrubs and perennials like Japanese maple and ornamental grasses make excellent fillers.
When cutting flowers and foliage from the garden, don't allow the pruning job you just did on the plants to create an eyesore. Where you harvest is just as important as how you harvest. Use the harvesting of cut flowers as a chance to lightly prune the plant. Don't concentrate on just one area of the plant; try to cut flowers from all sides of the plant to ensure even coverage. Cut stems as long as possible; most will get another cut just before being dunked in a vase of water.
Arranging the Cut Flowers
Once you've collected your cut flowers in the garden, it's time to make the arrangement. Fill a vase or other container with water. Consider the size of the opening of the vase; don't make the bouquet bigger than the vase can hold.
Begin with the greenery first. Strip the leaves off the lower half of the stems, or anywhere they would be under water. This prevents the greens from promoting bacterial growth when submerged. Clutch the stems loosely in one hand.
Begin building your arrangement, continuing to add flowers and stripping the greenery below your hand. Twist the bouquet half a turn after each addition. When it's just the way you like it, give the stems a fresh cut; this allows them to take up water in the vase. Insert the bouquet into the vase and you're done.
Limited Space Considerations
Not everyone can grow their favorite bouquets in the yard. If space or climate are limitations, consider pots. "Containers can offer a little bit of flexibility because they can go wherever you are."
Speaking of pots, you can create your own miniature bouquet garden in almost any sized container. Simulate a "living" floral arrangement in a pot by arranging plants closely together. For an instant look, pack the plants together. Place the container on an outdoor dining table or indoors as a focal point.