Tips for Creating, Maintaining, and Using a Cutting Garden

It’s the age-old conundrum most gardeners face: To cut, or not to cut? Every year that my peonies burst into bloom, I have an internal battle about whether I should leave the gorgeous flowers in place so the garden looks more beautiful, or cut a bunch of stems to bring inside so I can enjoy them even more. I generally leave them in place and only decide to cut the blooms from the plants when an impending rainstorm threatens to spoil the outdoor party altogether. This inner turmoil could be completely avoided, of course, if I simply planted a cutting garden. This new bed could exist purely for me to rob from—day in and day out.

My biggest hesitation for not planting a cutting garden was my incorrect assumption that it had to be filled entirely with annuals. But as I quickly discovered when editing The Best Flowers for Your Cutting Garden by Catherine Mix, the ideal bed is filled with an array of annuals and perennials. I was lucky enough to visit Catherine’s garden in Sequim, Washington, on several occasions. There you see what could be considered “regular” beds and borders surrounding her home. It was only after she led me through the space that I realized nearly every plant was included for its ability to be used as a cut flower. Catherine is also the one who taught me how to store cut peony buds in the refrigerator for up to three weeks to make the show last even longer.

The articles in this collection will help you design a cutting garden, fill it with the right plants, give those selections the proper care for the best flower show, and offer tips and tricks on how to get those cut blooms to last longer once they are in the vase. Everyone deserves to wake up to fresh flowers on their table every day, and now you won’t have to go broke at the florist to make that happen.