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Bouquet in a Garden: Flowers for Cutting

Within the nursery industry, we often scoff at the idea of buying someone a bouquet. “Why give someone dead flowers when you could give them a plant that will flower every year?” we ask, smugly congratulating ourselves for being so clever. At the same time, we relish that pleasant rush we feel when someone hands us a gorgeous bouquet, conveniently forgetting, even if only briefly, the self-satisfied pat on the back we gave ourselves while trash-talking floral arrangements. 

The fact is, there’s room in our yards for a gorgeous landscape AND cut flowers, and we can do it for a lot cheaper than a weekly trip to the florist. By planting a variety of perennial flowers that will come back year after year, mixing in some annuals with particularly showy blooms, and choosing varieties that flower at different times throughout the season, we can paint the yard with color, with plenty left over to bring indoors!

Here’s my list of favorite flowers for cutting, broken down by the season in which they bloom:

Spring

  • Daffodil (perennial bulb): This fall-planted bulb is one of the first to pop up in spring, doesn’t mind the cold and snow we see in March and April, and boasts a remarkable flowers atop slender stems. You know spring is coming when these cheerful bulbs begin to emerge!
  • Ranunculus (annual): This frost-tolerant annual has a cabbage-type flower, and its lush petals evoke classic still-life paintings. A staple in most floral shops, these are sadly underused in most landscapes. 
  • German Bearded Iris (perennial): These elegant flowers are not only showy, but are incredibly fragrant. Blooming in late spring, their perfume will enchant you! Plus, they often have very long stems, making them ideal for larger arrangements. 
  • Lilac (hardy shrub): These classic spring-blooming shrubs are well known for their fragrance, and their dense clusters of purple, pink, or white flowers are incredibly showy. It doesn’t hurt that they are very tough shrubs, thriving in our challenging Colorado climate!

Summer

  • Peony (perennial): These large heavily-petaled flowers come in a range of colors, from deep burgundy and mauve to brilliant pinks and pristine whites. They are even great in bouquets before the flowers open, as their large round buds are stunning on their own. 
  • Zinnia (annual): Zinnias are easy to grow, love the heat of summer, and hold up well in cut flower arrangements. These annual flowers come in many strong bright colors including white, yellow, orange, pink, red, and even green. 
  • Coneflower (perennial): Coneflower (echinacea) is a hardy perennial that butterflies love. These have a long bloom season and are as showy in the landscape as they are in bouquets, and some even have a pleasant mild fragrance.
  • Gladiola (annual bulb): These bulbs are planted in spring, and quickly shoot up impressive spikes lined with elegant and colorful flowers. Their sword-like foliage is attractive in the garden even after the flowers have come and gone, adding longer seasonal interest. 
  • Yarrow (perennial): This sun-loving drought-tolerant perennial forms umbrella-shaped clusters of flowers that endure for a long time in bouquets, and even dry well for year-round displays. Available in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and even white, these are a staple for any landscape. 

Late Summer/Autumn

  • Sedum (perennial): Upright varieties like Autumn Joy, Matrona, and Lemon Jade tolerate intense sun, dry conditions, and bloom from late summer into autumn. These provide a variety of interesting features, including dark purple foliage on some, white or pink flowers, and exceptionally long-lasting blooms.
  • Sunflower (annual): Sunflowers are incredibly easy to grow from seed, and by late summer they are in full bloom. With colors ranging from yellow to orange, burgundy to white, and in sizes from small (18 inches) to behemoth (8 feet) tall, there is a sunflower for every yard and every flower arrangement. 
  • Fall-blooming Asters (perennial): A classic autumn flower, asters are available in a wide range of colors, and their dainty daisy-like flowers are always sure to please! These plants typically produce large multi-stemmed stalks covered in small flowers. The blooms generally have yellow centers, and the petals range from purple to pink to white. 
  • Annual Salvia (annual): the annual varieties of salvia are true showstoppers in late summer and autumn. Not only are their trumpet-shaped flowers intensely colored, but their stems are often heavily pigmented as well, creating vertical lines of color to add depth and dimension to your fall bouquets. As an added bonus, butterflies and hummingbirds adore annual salvia, so be sure to leave some in the landscape for them.
  • Ornamental Grasses (perennial): No list would be complete without including the wide variety of perennial ornamental grasses whose showy plumage is on full display as summer winds down and autumn kicks into gear. The feathery flowers most grasses produce can capture light, fill space, and even add color, and should not be overlooked when designing a garden or a floral arrangement!

Originally published on July 3rd, 2019.