New Year, New Seeds: How We Plan our Cutting Garden

leafIris'sNew Year, New Seeds: How We Plan Our Cutting Gardenleaf

Seed Catalogs

 It’s time for every northern gardener’s favorite winter activity – sitting down and reading the new seed catalogs. The arrival at the mailbox signifies new beginnings, and a chance to reflect on past years and then plan to make improvements to the coming season’s garden.  Much can be learned by studying seed catalogs and it is exciting to discover new combinations, colors and possibilities.

We have 24 rows of flowers that we grow intended solely for cutting . We also intermix as many plants that produce blooms suitable cutting as possible throughout the gardens. Around the perimeter of the cutting garden are cedar posts connected with thin wire on which we plant vines (see below for easy to grow vines that we found to work beautifully in 2014)

Cutting Garden2

For the Linden Hill Cutting Garden, we strive to feature a wide-range of color, texture and height using some rare selections that will stop visitors in their tracks. We always include flowers that create long lasting and original bouquets. 2014 was our first year for the cutting garden, a trial of sorts, to figure out which plants will work the best.  We have saved many of the seeds to use this year, but look forward to also  choosing additional selections.


Tithonia ‘Torch’

The all-star around the farm last year was Tithonia ‘Torch’ (Mexican Sunflower or Flower of the Aztecs). It outgrew most of the staff, bloomed nonstop with a vivid orange-y red that was so bright that you could see it from the other side of the nursery, and got the most “What is that?” questions. Needless to say, we will definitely be growing this again. We do not only grow annuals in our cutting garden, but also include planted rows of perennials, such as mixed varieties of Iris germanica and Phlox paniculata. We suggest Phlox ‘Jeana’ as a  fragrant, long-blooming, native perennial, good for cutting.

Phlox Jeana with prism

Phlox Jeana

We switched out some of the rows as summer progressed, such as swapping out the Bachelor Buttons  for a compact Ageratum “Blue Danube’, which proved to be an excellent performer. There were a few rows of pastel Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix’ and ‘Sonata Mix’ and we plan to include a hot-colored Cosmos such as ‘Bright Lights’ this year.

Cosmos Bright Lights

Cosmos Bright Lights

One of the most interesting plants was the old fashioned heirloom  Amaranthus caudatus (Love lies Bleeding or Tassel Flower). It features long, crimson ropes, perfect for spilling down the side of a vase or for drying.

Planting Cutting Garden

 The seeds are started indoors in late February or early March, depending on the germination time. We plant the seedlings out in the gardens mid-May. They are usually about 6 inches tall, and we space them 1 to 1 1/2ft. apart.
Cutting Garden Rows
 Here is a look at our plan from last year, which worked out very well. We left 18″ between each planted row for access paths (which grew smaller as the summer went on). In the beginning you may be weeding these rows on a regular basis, but, as soon as the plants get going they will shade out the weeds.
2014 LHG Cutting Garden

2014 LHG Cutting Garden

Here is a look at some of the flowers close up in little bouquets:

Dahlia Phlox Ageratum Scabiosa Arrangement
1. Dahlia ‘Peaches and Dreams’, Phlox ‘Nicky’, Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’ and Ageratum ‘Blue Danube’.

Scabiosa Black Knight Pink Cosmos and Hydrangeacloseup

2. Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’, Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix’, Hydrangea macrophylla

Tithonia Zinnia Ageratum Tithonia Amaranthus

3. Tithonia, Zinnia ‘Envy’, Ageratum ‘Blue Danube’, Amaranthus caudatus, with Russian sage
And one of the ‘sunniest’ dinnerplate dahlias – ‘Kelvin Floodlight’.

Note: Grow dahlias from tubers. To read more, see the previous post on fall dahlia care.

 A few quintessential cutting garden plants that I would like to grow this year:
1.       Gomphrena globosa (Globe Amaranth) with irresistible, sturdy and fuzzy globes, that keep their color even after drying.
2.       Lisianthus– a favorite of florists and romantics.
3.       Definitely, more Zinnias-in all colors.
4.       Verbena bonariensis-We had this growing in other beds, but, it would be stunning to do a whole row. As an added bonus it attracts monarch butterflies and self-seeds. 
5.       Many wow-inducing surprises
6.       After looking at the catalogs-Everything!

Here is a listing of the vines we use to edge our Cutting Garden:

Cup and Saucer Vine cobaea scandens

Cobaea scandens – Cup and Saucer Vine

Ipomoea lobata (Firecracker Vine, Spanish Flag Vine)
Cobaea scandens (Cup and Saucer Vine)
Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) ‘Old Spice Mix’, ‘Elegance Series’
Lablab purpurea (Purple Hyacinth Bean)
Phaseolus coccineus ‘Painted Lady’ (Painted Lady Runner Bean)
Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’

For some beautiful and enlightening ‘seed reads’-check these out:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Seeds of Change

 Have fun enjoying studying the catalogs! Think Spring!   —- Jessica