Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Tropical South
May, 2004
Regional Report

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It's easy to have fresh flowers to cut every day of the year in Florida.

Cutting Gardens for Constant Bouquets

I grew up with my beloved Aunt Joan always growing flowers and making bouquets for almost every room of the house. I think most of us have an instinctive desire to bring flowers indoors unless it has been squelched out of us in our youth.

A Cutting Garden Paradise
It is not difficult to have flowers for bouquets every day of the year in Florida. There are two ways to have a garden of flowers for cutting. One is to plant rows of your favorites in an out-of-the-way place where you won't mind cutting every single bloom. A good way to do this is by adding rows of annuals to a vegetable garden.

For some of us it is much easier to fill the whole yard with annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, and trees that have good flowers for cutting, and then give ourselves permission to cut as needed. Most of the time it is possible to pick the flowers that show least -- from the back side of the hydrangea bush or by thinning out the salvia flowers. Picking flowers on most plants only makes them bloom more and saves time on deadheading.

Why Cutting Makes Sense
I knew one lady who didn't believe in picking flowers -- thought it was against nature. But many a plant blooms in my yard that no one would ever see or begin to appreciate if I didn't bring the flowers to the spotlight of the house. Most flowers last just about as long indoors as out, and sometimes longer when the sun and wind are harsh.

Enjoy the Process
You don't have to make a big job of the arranging. Most times it is enough to pick a handful and plop them in a glass on the kitchen table. When you feel like doing a more elaborate arrangement, you'll find that careful conditioning makes them last longer.

A friend of mine just took a class in flower arranging that convinced her she didn't want to bother. The emphasis was on flower shows, which are fine if that is your inclination. I'm against competition myself. It seems much better to arrange the flowers however they look good to you and be happy about it. There are chapters in the book I wrote with Betty Mackey -- A Cutting Garden for Florida -- that give simple suggestions for making arrangements, including a page on instant arrangements.

My mother liked to pick a single hibiscus every day and put it in her hibiscus holder. It didn't even need water. Another lady I know picks a magnolia off her tree every morning when she goes out to get the paper, and floats it in a bowl. One man solved the deadheading problem with his gardenia by picking the fresh flowers every morning and giving them away at church.

My most important rule for gardening in general and bouquets in particular is to enjoy. And that part is easy as long as you keep it as your main goal.

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