A Cut Flower Calendar
A lot of gardeners are looking to plant summer flowers, perennials, and shrubs in their landscapes that can double as a cut flower garden. Whether inspired by the proliferation of farmer’s market bouquets or the rising cost of floral arrangements, more and more people are inquiring about suitable plants when shopping at the garden centre. So, to start you off, here are twelve months of seasonal cut flower and berry suggestions, followed by additional lists of annuals, bulbs, perennials, and shrubs.
We start the year with one of the longest blooming shrubs we offer, Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’. The shell pink buds begin opening in November and continue blooming through to April, showing in spurts of warmer weather. The long stems and enticing fragrance make a nice filler in winter arrangements.
On the other hand, the bright yellow blossoms of the Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis) can stand on their own, as the fragrant bright yellow strap-like blossoms literally envelop the branches and it is also the first Witch Hazel to come into bloom.
It’s no secret that I love Hellebores but did you know they also make excellent cut flowers. Your best choices here are the evergreen forms such as Helleborus lividus ‘Pink Marble’ or any of the Rodney Davey Series such as ‘Anna’s Red’ or ‘Molly’s White’ as they both have strong stems and beautiful foliage.
The little-known Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) is actually a Dogwood that starts blooming in late February during mild winters. The sprays of tiny yellow flowers hold up well and this species also produces edible fruits.
March is pussy willow season and while there is nothing wrong with the traditional Salix caprea or our native Salix discolor, you can actually grow your own ‘pink’ pussy willows. Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ produces abundant bubblegum-pink catkins that really pop in any mixed arrangement.
Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum orientale) is one of our earliest blooming perennials and the yellow daisies with thin petals will brighten your early spring bouquets.
The warmer weather brings us an abundance of cut flowers but Daffodils are a traditional choice. But instead of settling for something mundane like ‘King Alfred’, why not plant something more unusual like ‘Electrus’ with its flared corona of salmon-pink backed in a pure creamy white.
Another unusual choice are Euphorbias and although you have to wear gloves when cutting (due to the milky sap that can cause skin irritation), the combination of reddish-purple foliage and chrome-yellow flowers found in Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ are the perfect foil for mixed arrangements.
Siberian Iris (I. sibirica) is not only one of the easiest perennials to grow (it even tolerates wet soils) but a mature clump is capable of producing 20 stems or more. Add to this the fact that you can choose from a wide colour range including purple, deep blue, pink, white, yellow, and innumerable bicolours.
Of course, May is also lilac month, with old-fashioned French Lilacs (S. vulgaris) making some of our best fragrant cut flowers. A few of my favourites include ‘Sensation’ (purple w/ white picotee) ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (dbl. pale pink), ‘Monge’ (deep purple), and ‘President Grevy’ (lavender-blue).
If want to save yourself a little money on expensive cut flowers, then just grow your own peonies. Herbaceous peonies (P. lactiflora) are probably your best choice with ‘Bowl of Beauty’ (pink w/ yellow ruffle), ‘Karl Rosenfield’ (dbl. red), ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ (pale yellowish-white), and ‘Dr. Alexander Fleming’ (deep rose pink) all being readily available.
Perennial Delphiniums make good companions for peonies in a spring bouquet, with deep blue, white, pink, rose, and sky-blue varieties all available, some with white or dark bees.
The heat brings a plethora of cut flowers but few are as reliable as Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium). The flower range is broad and includes salmon-orange (‘Terracotta’), bright yellow (‘Moonshine’), deep pink (‘Cerise Queen’), white and red (‘Pomegranate’).
Tall phlox (P. paniculata) is another prolific bloomer, often with contrasting variegated foliage. A few of my favourites include ‘David’ (pure white), ‘Goldmine’ (hot pink w/ gold variegation), and ‘Starfire’ (deep salmon-pink w/ bronzed foliage).
The heat needn’t deter the cut flower garden as there are several perennials that thrive in it. Gloriosa Daisies (Rudbeckia hirta) just knock themselves out this time of year and there are many unusual cultivars to choose from such as ‘Cherry Brandy’ (burgundy), ‘Cappuccino’ (gold with copper highlights), and ‘Chim Chiminee’ (thread-like petals).
Crocosmia also comes into its prime at this time, with the hummingbirds enjoying each and every flower. ‘Lucifer’ (red, tall stems), ‘Emily McKenzie’ (deep orange w/ a red eye), and ‘George Davison’ (yellow) are all tried and true varieties.
With its often-unpredictable weather, we have to look a little harder for cut flowers but a late sown Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) is a reliable annual that often self-sows if some seedheads are left.
Shrubby St. John Wort’s such as Hypericum ‘Ignite Red’ can also provide both flowers and red seedheads at this time of year.