The Q&A Archives: Cut Flower Garden

Question: I would like to start a cut flower garden in a 4'x 15' outdoor garden box area. What flowers would you recommend, qty. and how best to arrange, etc.

Answer: For the most attractive garden, follow these basic design ideas:
follow basic design principles:

Place like plants in groups of three, five or seven (odd numbers) of each type to increase the effect of color and texture.

Repeat groups of the same plant type two or three times throughout the space, to give it unity and create harmony.

Use tall plants at the back of a one-sided Garden or in the middle of an island bed.
Complement tall plants by gradually placing shorter plants towards the outer perimeter, ending with low border plants at the edge of the bed. This gives a smooth transition from tall heights to the border plants. Bring occasional plants forward from their height line to increase variation.

Use various colors, textures and forms to add interest to the Garden. Too much variety, however, will overstimulate the viewer. Consider using more plants of fewer varieties for a simpler, more pleasing effect. Don't overuse one type of perennial.
Consider bloom time and interesting foliage to create a succession of color and interest throughout the season.

Complement perennials with annuals and bulbs for bright focal points and accents during low bloom periods.

Leave room for plant growth and allow for individual plant growth habits. In general, plant tall perennials 18 to 36 inches apart, intermediates 12 to 18 inches apart, and dwarfs 6 to 12 inches apart. Don't place plants in straight rows -- use a scattered or triangular spacing so one mass blends into another

Some favorites for a cutting garden include:
Delphinium hybrid Delphinium 'Pacific giant'; Paeonia hybrid Peony (pink); Dendranthema x grandiflorum Shasta daisy; Aquilegia hybrids Columbine 'Songbird' (blue); Hardy fall mum; Hemerocallis hybrids Daylily; Saponaria ocymoides Rock soapwort; Oenothera macrocarpa Ozark sundrop; Geranium sanguineum Bloodred cranesbill; Iberis sempervirens Candytuft; Heliopsis helianthoides scabra False sunflower; Salvia x superba Salvia 'Blue Queen'; Scabiosa caucasica Pincushion flower (blue); Aquilegia hybrids Columbine 'Songbird'; Oenothera macrocarpa Ozark sundrop; Armeria maritima Sea pink.

Of course you can choose any of your favorite flowers for inclusion in your cutting bed. Best wishes with your new garden!

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