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If you still want to take pleasure in your handiwork, cut some flowers and bring them indoors. Any garden can be a cutting garden, and it’s often good for the plants. With many cultivars, cutting encourages them to bloom even more, and although hydrangeas (other than reblooming types) don’t bloom more than once a year, cutting a few from a large shrub won’t hurt.
What makes a good bouquet? Those same elements which make your garden special such as: layering, texture and color. Start with the best flowers, stems and leaves in your garden. I pick the biggest flowers first like roses, phlox and gladiolas. These will be the stars of the bouquet, but they aren’t at their best without the supporting members of the cast, i.e., smaller flowers and stems.
Cut flowers in the morning when they are at their best. If you plan to stay outdoors for any length of time, place cut stems in a bucket of water to keep them fresh.
Your container can be anything from a French florist’s bucket to the most beautiful cut crystal. Rectangular and square vases lend a more modern air than round ones although floral designers break the rules constantly. Your home’s decor may also be a factor in choosing what type of container to use. Is it country like mine, or do you like a more contemporary feel? Because of such beautiful faded blue or green glass, I think antique Mason jars make especially nice containers. Whether it’s a wildflower bouquet picked by your children, or the most beautiful and complicated rose, either looks good in a Mason jar.
To arrange your flowers, have shears nearby to re-cut the stems. The cells in a flower stem close almost immediately after cutting. You want your flowers to be able to take up as much water as possible, so cut an inch or two off of the bottom of the stem at an angle before placing them in a vase of tepid, not hot or cold, water. When I buy cut flowers, I prepare them the same way. With commercial flowers, you’ll receive a powder to add to the water. This stops bacterial growth and helps the flowers last longer. Recipes for homemade additives abound on the Internet, and you can try them if you wish. If not, change the water everyday cutting _ inch off the stems each time. Be sure no leaves are beneath the water’s surface as they rot faster and will spoil your bouquet.
If you’re longing for flowers in the depth of winter, or if you don’t have a garden of your own, don’t worry. You can assemble flowers from the store into something almost as beautiful. One hint: always buy more flowers than you think you’ll need. A fuller arrangement is a better one, and sometimes flower stems are broken which you can’t see until they are taken out of the cellophane wrapper.
Some of the best flower and foliage plants in my garden for cutting are:
Although daylilies last only a day, they can be floated in a bowl or shallow vase and will remain beautiful until the next morning. It’s a good way to enjoy your flowers at work instead of faded faces when you return home.
Two of the bouquets, above, were crafted from flowers entirely from my garden, and they reflect two garden styles I really like, overblown and prairie. A bouquet is simply a garden in a vase, and only limited by your imagination. Where will yours take you?