It’s always nice to spend a summer day in a garden, surrounded by all the sweet smells and vibrant colors. But what if you want to take some home with you? Because it is frowned upon to rip flowers out of their beds (please don’t do this) and landscape flowers usually don’t last very long in a vase, we have a cut flower garden to solve all your problems. At least, all of your flower-related problems.
What is a cut flower garden? You probably already guessed it. It’s a garden that’s entire purpose is to grow flowers for bouquets and other floral arrangements. The flowers in these gardens have longer stems and live longer than other flowers in a vase. The flowers currently planted in the Ashton Gardens are Snapdragons, Dahlia, Zinnia, Celosia, Papyrus, Sunflowers, Cosmos, and Lisianthus. The flowers are harvested on Wednesdays and Fridays, arranged, wrapped in cellophane the same day, and are immediately put up for sale in the Ashton Garden Gift Shop. They are only available on the day they are cut. So, if you would like to purchase a bouquet straight from our cut flower garden, make sure to come on either a Wednesday or Friday.
While we think everyone should come to visit our cut flower garden (and maybe take home a bouquet), it’s also possible for you to create your own garden just for bouquets. If you would like to start your own cut flower garden, here are the steps and some tips straight from one of Ashton Garden’s horticulturalists, Angela Free.
Before you start, conduct a bit of research on the varieties you have chosen. Some flowers need to be planted earlier than others. Some take longer to bloom, so if you are wanting bouquets, you will want to try to line up bloom times, so you don’t have one flower in an arrangement fully ready to be cut while another hasn’t even bloomed yet.
2. The Seeds:
The seeds for our cut flower garden first spend some time in the Greenhouse on trays full of potting mix until they are a bit more mature and it is warmer outside. Some people start them inside under grow lights, but there are a few options. Just be sure to read your seed packet to see what your flowers need.
3. The Beds:
The next step is to prepare your flower beds. Throw in compost and fertilizer to give your flowers the nutrients they need. Put the bed in a place your seeds will want to live and grow with a good amount of sunlight. Make sure the soil is nice and loose so the roots have room to grow!
Now you plant! At Ashton Gardens, our wonderful volunteers plant the seeds in our 2 ft beds. They plant them close together to encourage the flowers to grow up nice and tall.
Side Note: Some plants need pinching (Cosmos, Snapdragons, Zinnias). Sometimes this is done before they are planted, sometimes after. When pinching, you just reach down about a third from the top of the plant and cut out the main stem. Pinching encourages branching.
Once planted, it is now about maintenance. It is important that your plants get enough to drink. Once again, council your seed packets. If your soil is moist, you’re doing a good job.
(An undetermined amount of time later depending on how long your flowers take to grow…)
Harvest Time! When it comes to cutting, there are specific guidelines for each flower. These guidelines will ensure prime time in the vase, and they are all different, so say it with me: “Do your research.” For cutting, you will need a bucket full of water that is clean enough to drink out of, then put a little bit of floral preservative solution in there. Cut at a slant to increase surface area, strip off leaves at the bottom, and place them in your bucket. You’ll want to cut your flowers in the morning because the heat will make them wilt.
Now you have beautiful, long flowers ready to be arranged. Just be sure to do your arranging in the shade.
Wait! We have more tips!
Whether you’ve purchased a bouquet or made your own, here are just a few tips for making your flowers last longer:
- Change the water often.
- Keep in a cooler place out of the direct sun.
- Add floral preservative.
Fill your summer up with fresh flowers from our Gardens or yours! Happy planting!