If you used the winter wisely, planning how you will plot your cutting garden makes waiting til the end of winter seem to take, just a little longer. For me, waiting allows one to see what new seed will tie the cutting garden of your dreams together.  Catalog after catalog comes in the mail, page corners are turned down and orders have been placed for the seeds that will make you the envy of the neighborhood.  Great feeling isn’t it???  A well-planned cutting garden needs to have a few items that will take you from the beginning of the season to the end.  Here are a few pointers to get you started.    IMG_2313One of the first things to think about is seed selection. What flowers do you desire for your cutting garden? How tall do you want the cut flowers to grow? What colors? Large blooms or abundant small blooms?  Defining your taste in which flowers you really like and want to grow can be a process of weeding out just how many flowers your garden can accommodate.  In my world, one can never have enough cut flowers.  From Cosmos to Zinnia’s and everything in between, makes selecting how many of which plant you want, quite the task.  Once you have made your selections, one must consider the soil, as well as the site.IMG_2319Some of the most common cut flowers need full sun and well-draining soil.  So that sunny hardpan clay area in the corner, under the trees, just might not work without amending the soil. Your choice of soil amendments could include a slow release fertilizer, an organic fertilizer, leaf grow as a soil conditioner, mushroom compost, coconut hulls (makes a wonderful smelling soil amendment) or an assortment of aged manure – from rabbits to guano (bat droppings). Obtaining a soil test over the winter months can aid in making sure you add just enough of exactly what is needed for optimal seed/plant growth. Check with a reputable local hardware store or your Extension Office for advice on where and how to obtain a thorough soil test.IMG_2311Once you have taken these steps, it is simply a matter of starting or direct sowing your seeds, adding some other plant material for textural interest, additional options for cutting – such as assorted ornamental grasses, Dahlia’s, Oriental, Asiatic or even the newer blended cultivar Lilly’s.  You could even add shrubs that have berries or variegated foliage, which can be utilized in arrangements. A little water when needed, perhaps a little additional fertilizer and a good pair of snips or pruners to make an arrangement that will surely brighten the home.IMG_2322  A few pointers to remember, know how much fertilizer your cutting garden choices need.  Know the size of your planting bed or lot, as well as the hours of sun or shade it will get.  If the soil is amended correctly and any slow release fertilizer is incorporated into the cutting garden bed, over fertilization, can be kept at a minimum. Watch for mildew in high humid areas and most importantly, please consider growing some native plant material that attracts pollinators.  Cut often for repeat bloom on some plants and lower renewed growth and budding in others for much later bloom.  Incorporating plants that feed or provide cover for nature’s pollinators are always a great way of saying “Thank You” for the beauty that surrounds us to Mother Nature.  Finally, don’t forget to search second-hand shops, catalogs or even be creative in re-purposing everyday containers.  There is nothing prettier than a smattering of zinnia’s in a soup can or a soda bottle.   IMG_2321Remembering the three S’s (seeds, site, soil) will enable you to say to your friends and neighbors, “a cut flower garden…You can Grow That!!!”IMG_2296(All of these garden photos were taken in the gardens outside of Le Invalides, Paris, France. The tomb of Napoleon  Bonaparte, as well as other war heroes, can be found here. Les Invalides)

 

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