Cutting gardens have always been a popular type of garden plan. If you choose your plants carefully you can ensure that you have fresh flowers throughout the warmer months of the year. Traditionally, cutting gardens have been thought to require a large amount of space in order to accommodate all the most attractive flower varieties. This simply doesn’t work for people who have a limited amount of yard space to dedicate to growing flowers.
How to Create a Square Foot Cutting Garden
Square foot gardening is a gardening strategy that helps people put small spaces to work. Though square foot gardening techniques are usually used for growing vegetables or herbs, it is entirely possible to grow flowers instead. In fact, I think a square foot cutting garden can be a bountiful and attractive option for your small space.
Tall flowers create stunning backdrops that frame smaller plants. Plant some of these flowers if you wish to create bouquets that have serious presence.
Canterbury Bells – A tall plant seen frequently in European-style gardens, Canterbury Bells have lovely upturned bell-shaped blossoms. Old fashioned varieties come in pink and blue varieties; hybrid variations are also available.
Foxglove – These plants start out short though can grow fairly tall in just a few seasons. The distinctive flowers are packed close to the stem and make for a striking addition to a bouquet or arrangement. A traditional garden favorite.
Hollyhock – These flowers are both loved and lovingly cursed by gardeners. Vigorous self-seeders, hollyhocks will grow just about anywhere the seeds might fall. To prevent hollyhocks from crowding out other flowers you will need to thin the bed each spring. Feathery double hollyhocks are an unexpected variation on this traditional favorite.
Lupine – Though lupine varieties can vary somewhat in height, they do tend to grow fairly tall when left alone. Lupine is easily recognized by its dark purple flowers though other colors are available. Lupine does best in moist soil and partly shady growing conditions.
Phlox – Another traditional favorite of flower gardeners, phlox comes in tall, short, and creeping varieties. Tall phlox can be found in white, pink, dark pink, fuchsia, red, lavender, and dark purple varieties.
Your square foot cutting garden will probably contain primarily medium sized flowers. These are the right size for handheld bouquets and vase-ready flower arrangements.
Calendula – These little beauties are sometimes called pot marigolds, though do not confuse them for the bushy, spherical marigolds that are also popular. Calendula flowers are usually more daisy-like in shape though may have frilled or double petals depending on the variety you choose. They come in bright yellow, bright orange, and dark orange colors.
Cosmos – A handful of cosmos plants are the perfect touch for a rustic cottage garden. White, pink, and purple varieties are most common. Cosmos plants readily self-seed and will come back year after year. Make sure to thin the bed to prevent them choking other plants.
Iris – Irises are a traditional cutting garden favorite. Not only do they produce exceptional blooms with a rich scent, they will come back year after year. Iris plants easily spread so you will have to keep an eye on them in the spring to prevent new plants from growing where they should not.
Poppy – All varieties of poppy are very easy to grow and can be germinated from seed in just a handful of weeks. Poppies come in a wide range of colors from dark red to white to delicate lavender. Most poppy varieties will self-seed and come back each year.
Snapdragons – This flower garden favorite has recently gained the interest of cutting garden enthusiasts. Though snapdragons are not a traditional bouquet flower, the many colors they come in and the distinctive blossom shape adds a great deal of interest to any flower arrangement.
Short flowers do not frequently find a place in cutting gardens simply because their stems are thought to be too short and delicate for use in an arrangement. However, if you are interested in creating nosegays, corsages, and other small arrangements then I think that short flowers can be a productive part of any cutting garden.
Feverfew – These sweet daisy-like flowers might be mistaken for chamomile at first glance. However, feverfew has fluffier petals than chamomile; feverfew can also be found in double petal varieties. Whether you choose the traditional or mum-like feverfew, you will love this addition to your cutting garden.
Geranium – Yes, the same flower loved by container gardeners can find a home in a cutting garden, too! Geraniums are easy to prune and respond quickly to care. Their clustered blooms make a great addition to smaller flower arrangements. Though most geraniums are not highly scented, their bright colors are right at home in the garden and in arrangements.
Pinks – Though pinks were a standard part of flower gardens in the past, they are now a lesser-known flower variety; many people know them better as dianthus flowers. Some varieties have one flower per stem while others have clusters of flowers perched on individual stems. Interestingly, pinks are most frequently seen in shades of purple, fuchsia, or red.
Viola – Another old fashioned garden favorite. These flowers have a pansy-like appearance though are much smaller. Some varieties have petals that are much more highly defined than pansies. Violas are sometimes mistaken for violets as a result of their dark purple coloring. Modern viola varieties feature white, yellow, red, pink, orange, and light blue coloration. Even though violas are loved for their sweet appearance and easy cultivation, in the past they were grown for use in the kitchen. They can be picked and eaten right off the plant or tossed into a salad. A coating of sugar created candied violas which would have been used to decorate cakes and other sweet baked goods.
No flower arrangement is complete without a little bit of greenery. Your square foot cutting garden can include culinary sage, lamb’s ear, dusty miller, hosta, Persian shield, and other rich foliage plants. These leaves and stems help frame and complement the colorful blossoms in your square foot cutting garden.
More Tips for Growing Flowers
Lauren Hill claims the garden as her happy place. From growing vegetables for her family to growing beautiful flowers to decorate her home, she loves everything about getting her hands dirty in the garden. Having the opportunity to write for The Growers Exchange has been a joy.