|By: Rhonda Fleming Hayes - About Rhonda
I’m not into diamonds or day spas. Luxury is a bouquet of fresh flowers from my garden.
I have always grown a few flowers for cutting, but this year I have devoted some prime real estate in my kitchen garden for this purpose. My strategy is to grow most of the long-stemmed annuals there.
Then depending upon the season I will gather other materials from the rest of my yard to use as accents and fillers. These might be tree and shrub branches, spring and summer bulbs, roses, grasses, everlastings, fruits and vegetables. Anything is fair game.
I have drawn inspiration from the work of the British gardener, Sarah Raven. Her book, Grow Your Own Cut Flowers, helped in the planning of my own plot.
Her bouquets are as beautiful as Breughel paintings; rich in color, complex in texture. Of course I have adapted her ideas for my climate.
She divides her flowers into three categories. The “bride” is the main focus, such as dahlias, sunflowers, lilies, roses, tulips or zinnias. The “bridesmaids” emphasize and back up the bride in color without competing for attention. Lastly the “gatecrasher” is purposely loud and clashing, like a blue with orange, or crimson with gold. It certainly works. She states that otherwise the arrangement ends up “too polite and boring”.
She stresses the importance of foliage in the structure of her arrangements, always using an acidic green somewhere as a foil to either deep or pastel flower colors. Her favorite source of this color is euphorbia. It is also found in Zinnia “Envy” and Bells of Ireland. I like to use hosta leaves, trailing ivies and vincas as well.
I divide the flowers into cool and warm season varieties. The season starts with sweet peas, bachelor buttons, larkspur; seeded directly in the garden. Purchased plants of snapdragons, dianthus and dahlias bring quick results. Later as the soil warms; zinnias, cleome, cosmos, and sunflowers are easy to grow.