Last year, I started my first "cut flower garden." A cut flower garden is different than a flower bed because the goal is not to have a beautiful landscape (though cut flower gardens are beautiful); it's to grow flowers for the purpose of cutting them!
One year in and I was hooked. I loved every bit of the process- choosing seeds, watching them sprout in our home, planting them into the dirt, watching them grow and bloom. And then being able to gift something so simple and special to friends for months on end!
Plus, I began to relate to so many of the garden metaphors in the Bible and found myself loosening my grip on control, knowing that it is only God who can grow; I just do the planting.
Here are some bits of information if you'd like to begin your own cut flower garden:
1. Find a place for your garden and get it prepared. I used a funny little courtyard that was already at our house, planting in both the garden beds and two raised beds Robert built out of fence posts. You could also use pots!
2. Order seeds- hooray! I love Floret Flowers and Johnny Seeds, but you could also grab packets from a local shop or a zillion other online sources. Before you grab anything that looks pretty, read a little bit to see how long the flowers will take to grow and the kind of conditions they'll need. Perennials take a while to grow but should pop back up the next year. Annuals make up the bulk of my flowers and are absolutely stunning, but will die at the end of the Summer. Also to note: Will the flowers get so tall you'll have to stake them? Etc.
I love "cut and come" flowers that reward being cut- the more you snip off flowers, the more they produce more! Zinnians, China Aster, Sweet Peas, and Snapdragons all fall into this category.
Yarrow (a perennial) and lace flower were other favorites from last year.
Pro tip: Grow half flowers & half filler/foliage to create a beautiful bouquet. I made this mistake last year and didn't grow enough greenery to add. I'm excited to attempt Eucalyptus this year!
If you're already feeling overwhelmed, I can't say enough good things about Floret Flowers and their online resources. They have a beautiful and wildly informative blog with a fabulous search bar. Here's a great place to start!
3. Get to planting! Google your last frost date (around Middle Tennessee it's usually middle of April) and count backwards. If a seed packet says "start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date" you'll know when to begin work. For me, I began some slow growing seeds end of January and will continue doing so until I plant outside.
I love these trays + this seed starter mix but there are lots of options. Here's a good blog post to get you started. Follow instructions on your seed packet for seed depth, water needs, etc. I set them up in front of window with these lights above.
4. Plant outside when the time is right, after "hardening off" your baby plants a little at a time. Some flowers may be "direct seed", which means you'll just put the seeds right in the ground. Zinnias are great for this and make an excellent first cut-flower garden flower!
Here are a few books I absolutely love (click photos for direct links). Cut Flower Garden by Erin at Floret Flowers is an invaluable resource. She just released a second book, A Year in Flowers, about arranging based on what's in season. It's a great follow-up once you have your flowers blooming!
A Tree in the House was informative and also beautifully written; her words were a work of art in and of themselves. In Bloom is another fantastic resource; I'd recommend it with Cut Flower Garden above.
Here's my full Amazon List with garden favorites, but I have to say: A flower "frog" as they're called is amazing for arranging flowers in a vase. And wide mouth mason jars (or pickle jars!) are perfect for gifting flowers to friends.
Something I'm doing differently this year: Keeping track in a binder. I have graph paper to plot out my flowers (I'm trying to cram more in this year), a sheet with dates so I know when I planted, and sheets for each type of flower to keep track of necessary details. It's a little added work, but I think it will help me feel less chaotic :)