Before the pandemic, before the lockdown, inspired by my friend Jane and her fabulous cutting garden in East Hampton, I planted a modest cutting garden. At the very bottom of our garden, where there used to be a lawn. With inadequate drip irrigation...there was a lot of cursing and hand watering at first.
Some things from seed, most from 4 inch pots.
Some left over from last year (the Thomas Edison dahlias), some gifted by friends.
Tall blue salvia uliginosa, light and airy Nepeta six hills giant, a stiff mystery plant from Portugal with hairy lavender flowers, beginning to go to seed.
So what have I learned?
First, the descriptions on the plants in the nursery (fabulous cut flower! Trouble free! Blooms all summer!) are often written by someone who either has never grown a thing, doesn't own a pair of shears, has never had a flower arrangement last for more than one day, or is on drugs. Or is paid to exaggerate.
Those plants that emphatically do not make good cut flowers? Dug up and given away. So the second lesson? Be ruthless.
Next: If you're growing it from seed it will likely set seed and expire - here, as the summer heats up. In your garden, perhaps as fall approaches. But in the heat of our long summers so many beautiful things - huge blue scabiosa from Annie's Annuals, fragrant sweet peas in rich burgundy, mallows and hollyhocks - all gone to seed. And yes, I was diligent about dead heading. It's been over a hundred here for more than a week. If I could go to seed I would...
Shasta daisies are on hiatus. Cosmos have mildewed and quit. Coreopsis soldiers on, but I am not in the mood for school bus yellow flowers. Not in the heat; not after months of them.
Roses are still going but they do not last nearly as long in a vase as the dahlias.
Salvias shed. Inside, it looks like an invasion of blue bugs under the arrangement. I sweep the spent flowers into the sink a few times a day, and keep food out of their range. Blue flowers and breadcrumbs? No.
I've learned a lot about cutting and conditioning too.
Leaves get stripped, especially those below the water line. Stems re-cut and quickly dipped in Quick Dip, a flower conditioner, then into warm water and placed in a cool dark spot for conditioning. The laundry room if the dryer isn't going. The guest closet. A dark bathroom. The wine cellar if my husband isn't looking.
What do you grow for cutting? What's blooming in your garden? What makes you happy?