I’ve written several times recently about the blending of indoor and outdoor living. The emphasis has been on moving the indoors out, But it works both ways. This week, I’d like to suggest bringing the outdoors in.
Blending the outdoors with the indoors doesn’t involve heavy lifting or high costs. There’s no expensive furniture to acquire or move. All you have to do is design a cutting garden into your landscape and plant it this spring. With a little planning, you can have fresh flowers on the dining room table and throughout the house every day of the growing season.
A cutting garden is a garden set aside to grow flowering plants for decorating your home’s interior. The concept of a cutting garden was brought here by British colonists. Their cutting gardens were set up like vegetable gardens – just straight rows of flowering plants. This tradition has lasted down through the centuries. Why?
A rectangular garden plot with straight rows is so boooooring. Why not design a garden that will blend in with the rest of the back yard landscape? If you choose to plant in the ground, cut the bed the shape of the other beds in the back yard. If it’s large enough for several different plants, mix them in together for variety. If it can’t accommodate all the plants you’d like, make several beds.
I suggest restricting your cutting garden to the back yard. When the plants have finished blooming for the season, you’ll have foliage plants to enhance the back yard, while the front yard remains pristine and colorful.
When buying plants for your decorative beds, buy generously and you’ll have extras to plant in the cutting garden. Beside the possibility of saving some money, you’ll also truly bring the outdoors in since the cut flowers in your house will match the flowers in your outdoor beds.
If you don’t mind doing some construction to save wear and tear on you back and knees, you might consider making raised beds for your cutting garden. That way you won’t have to bend over or kneel down to cut flowers or work in the garden. To make selection easier, you might even consider one raised bed for each variety you plant.
If this is your first experience with a cutting garden, here are some tips, courtesy of Horticulture magazine, for keeping your flowers fresh longer after they’re cut:
- Cut flowers from your garden in the early morning. The heat of the day is not the best time to collect fresh flowers – for the flowers or for you.
- Cut the flowers with generous stems and bring them indoors immediately.
- As soon as the stems are cut, air begins to block the plant cells that take up water. Once you’re indoors, cut the stems again, preferably under water, and immediately place them in a vase of water.
- Use only commercial preservatives. Adding a penny or an aspirin to the water doesn’t benefit the cut flowers.
- Keep water clean; remove any leaves that fall below the waterline. Clean water minimizes bacteria that reduce the stem’s uptake of water.
- Don’t expose to heat. Heat will accelerate the desiccation of the plants.
- Store cut flowers in the refrigerator when you are away.