A Garden for Cutting – Part One: Planning for Fresh Cut Flowers in the Kitchen Garden…

Zinnia and Dahlia © 2009 Tim Geiss

Some of my gardening friends never cut flowers. I have one friend who grows very few blooming plants, and she prefers to keep her limited flowers on display in the landscape. Other friends have told me that the constant snipping of stems and changing of water becomes a tedious chore with fresh flowers, so they have houseplants instead. Me? Oh, I am a hopeless romantic with an unabashed love of cut flowers. I grow as many blossoming plants as possible; everything from Queen Anne’s Lace and sweet peas, to heady Damask Roses and French lilacs. In fact I grow some flowers exclusively for cutting. My house is always decorated with something harvested fresh from the garden, even if it’s only dried grass, bare branches and pinecones in the coldest months. Now that spring has arrived my home is filled with flowers; in the kitchen, on the dining table and beside my bed and in my studio. I can not imagine living in a home without bringing a bit of nature inside with me, and I simply love big, bold blossoms.

But to be honest, some of my favorite cut flowers, such as dinnerplate dahlias and bold colored sunflowers, can be a bit over-the-top in a landscape. I love fuchsia gladiolas in a simple vase on my kitchen table, but I prefer not to look at them screaming at me from the perennial border. So my solution is to grow flowers for cutting along side the vegetables in my potager. This sort of arrangement is hardly new. In fact, many flowers have long been grown as beneficial companion plants for vegetables; attracting bees and other pollinators to the garden, and in some cases even repelling less desirable insect guests, (click here to read last year’s post on companion planting in the vegetable garden)

Cleome, harvested from last year’s cutting garden, on my vanity table

Sunflowers lined up against the sapling fence in my potager

Dahlia and Calendula bouquet, last summer on my kitchen windowsill

Climbing flowers, such as sweet peas, can be grown up a vegetable garden fence. Sunflowers, cleome, and other tall beauties can also be set against a shed wall or other garden boundary. Some lower growing flowers, including French marigold and dwarf dahlias, make good edging plants for mounded or raised beds. Of course if you have more space, an entire flower garden comprised of multiple beds can become an endless source of blossoms for summertime bouquets to give or keep. If you have pets or small children, always be sure that the flowers planted in vegetable plots are non-poisonous.

This year, after the last frost date here in Vermont, I will be planting shocking quantities of dahlias. I have always loved dahlias, but this year I truly don’t know what came over me. An obsession with their origami-like folded petals? Perhaps the midwinter blahs brought on an urge to fill my house with color? I can’t really explain it, maybe it was just plain old greed, but I ordered oodles of dahlia tubers. While browsing several sites this year, I stumbled upon a dahlia called ‘Ferncliff Illusion’. How could I resist such a gorgeous flower with creamy petals with lavender tips when my own garden is named Ferncliff? This discovery was just too poetic to let pass! And of course, I can’t keep this to myself. I must share it with at least one of you…

Presenting The Gardener’s Eden Anniversary Give-Away # 2

Dahlia ‘Ferncliff Illusion’ from, and image copyright to, Arrowhead Dahlias

And at the end of this month, one reader will receive a package containing four large size tubers of Dahlia ‘Ferncliff Illusion’ from The Gardener’s Eden! Today and every Wednesday thoughout the month of April, in honor of our first anniversary, The Gardener’s Eden will be giving away a special gift. In order to enter, correctly answer the question below in the comment section of this article. Be sure to post your answer prior to the 12:00 pm Eastern Time cut-off. Only one entry per reader, per give-away, please. The winner will be chosen at random from all of the correct entries received, and will be notified by email. Gift recipients will also be announced both here in the blog comments and on our Facebook Page. So now…

The question is just a wee bit harder this week: What is the name of the Japanese maple tree standing at the entrance to my Secret Garden room here at Ferncliff? You may use the latin or the very intriguing common name. Hint: The answer can be found in the photo-captions within the page marked ‘Ferncliff’, (where it is photographed in all seasons). In order to enter the contest, please post your answer in the comments here on this blog post, (not on the Facebook page). All email addresses will remain unpublished and kept in complete confidence. Your email will only be used to notify you if you have won. Good Luck!

* In order to provide each reader with an equal chance to win, your comment/ entry will not appear until 4/15*

Entry Deadline is Midnight, Eastern Time, 4/14/10


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16 Replies to “A Garden for Cutting – Part One: Planning for Fresh Cut Flowers in the Kitchen Garden…”

  1. Laurrie

    The Blue Green Dragon graces the entry to the Secret Garden so beautifully. Not fearsome at all, despite its name, although it does get pretty fiery in the autumn. A lovely tree.

  2. Nancy Hamilton

    In order to enter the contest:‘The Blue Green Dragon’Acer, palmatum dissectum x ‘Seiryu’

  3. Victoria

    Hi, Michaela,

    I think the answer must be Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’, translated into English as the Blue-Green Dragon.


  4. Karen Chambers

    The answer is the Blue Green Dragon. I love the different pics of it. I also love the Fothergilla, bloodroot and ferns in your garden, but the dahlia has always been one of my favorite flowers!

  5. Catherine

    The Blue Green Dragon’Acer, palmatum dissectum x ‘Seiryu’

    What a beautiful garden, it is very inspiring. I love all of your colorful lined garden path and the rock walls fascinate me. It looks like heaven to me.

  6. Christina Zavell

    The beautiful tree is the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum dissectum seiryu. Your gardens are spectacular.

  7. Cindy

    It is a beautiful Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’, (aka the Blue Green Dragon). I been thinking about a Japanese maple for the front of our home. I think this one would be lovely there.

  8. lulu

    bonus question:
    what’s the name of the dog who ate the Japanese Maple tree that you received for a house warming gift?

  9. lulu

    answer to this weeks question!!!!

    Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’, (also known as the Blue Green Dragon)


  10. paspirit

    Hello Michaela,

    Here is my entry!

    Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ ‘The Blue-Green Dragon’

    Thank you for this wonderful web site!
    Paula Spear
    Wilton, NH

  11. Michaela

    * The correct answer to this week’s quiz question: ” What is the name of the Japanese maple tree standing at the entrance to my Secret Garden room here at Ferncliff?” is… Acer Palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’, or The Blue Green Dragon, (either answer was considered correct).

    Thank you to everyone for participating and for all of the lovely comments on my garden! We have two more contests to go, so if you didn’t win, please come back next week to try again.

    So the winner, pulled at random from the correct entries received is: Nancy Hamilton!
    Congratulations Nancy!!

    Thank you to everyone for following The Gardener’s Eden! I love hearing from you in comments. Please check back in next Wednesday for another anniversary quiz question and another chance to win a free gift.

    xo Michaela

Comments are closed.