Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
August, 2004
Regional Report

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For a summer brunch or garden party, what could be more appropriate than watering cans filled with a simple mixed bouquet of flowers from your garden.

Bouquets From the Garden

The lady at the fabric store was especially helpful. At the checkout I happened to glance up and saw a large basket filled with a gorgeous bouquet of garden flowers. Immediately commenting on it, the cashier said, "Jo made that. She has a wonderful garden". Of course, Jo was the helpful woman who thought it a good idea to bring her own flowers to work for all to enjoy.

Cut Flowers for Everyone
When was the last time you thought about bringing fresh cut flowers from your garden to work? Or bringing a bouquet to a friend or shut-in? Sharing flowers gives as much joy as growing them. We have a neighbor who periodically drops by with a tiny arrangement of miniature roses and other flowers, placed in a little recycled bottle she saves just for this purpose. Even though my mother has a large garden filled with flowers, Jeannie's thoughtfulness always brings us joy.

Gathering Flowers
If you want to start sharing the joy of flowers, here are the basics of cutting them. Early morning is the best time to gather flowers. Cut then, they're full of moisture and won't quickly wilt. Use a sharp scissors or knife to cut them and immediately place them in a pail of lukewarm water. Let the flowers sit for a couple of hours in a cool, dark place. But if that's not possible, arrange them right away. When you're ready to make your bouquet, recut the stems under water on a diagonal. Pull or cut off any leaves that will be under water in the bouquet.

Vases For All Occasions
If you have a wonderful vase, that's great, but don't hesitate to use other objects around your home. I've given away a bouquet of herbs in a crushed tomato can or daisies in a clay flower pot lined with foil. Teapots make great vases, too. Dollar or discount stores are a excellent source of inexpensive vases. Your vase or container should have a water reservoir large enough for flowers to fit comfortably. Make sure the container is leakproof, lining it with another container or foil.

Keeping the Flowers Upright
Some containers have a small enough opening so that flowers stand up on their own. As for wide-mouthed vases, there are a variety of holders, such as antique glass frogs and metal pin holders. Attach these to the vase with floral clay. Floral foam is useful for low or wide-necked containers, too. Soak the foam thoroughly before using it. Cut it to fit the shape of the container, and use floral tape to secure it to the container. Before arranging flowers, make sure the container is clean of bacteria that can kill flowers.

Making the Bouquet
A simple bouquet of mixed flowers is easy to make. Don't be inhibited by rules or styles. When all else fails, just float a few beautiful blossoms in a bowl of water. Some of the best perennials for cut flowers include yarrow, Japanese anemones, bellflower, pinks, coreopsis, black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, gaillardia, liatris, bee balm, phlox, salvia, and speedwell. Good annual flowers for bouquets include ageratum, calendula, bachelor's-buttons, gladiolus, sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnias.

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