Enjoy a Cutting Garden | Midwest Living

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Enjoy a Cutting Garden

Gathering tulips (plus daisies, snapdragons and lavender) from your backyard or at a you-pick farm fills vases -- and the soul.
  • The healing power of flowers

    We've long believed -- and science now proves -- that gathering bouquets is about far more than making a pretty display for your home. It's good for your health, too.

    Many medical professionals recognize nature's healing power. Jean Larson of the University of Minnesota Center for Therapeutic Horticulture, for example, holds therapy sessions in a garden because patients are more relaxed and show quicker progress there.

    Flowers also help kids focus and learn faster, says Mary Vidas, director of Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Township, Minnesota. "With today's hectic family lives, discovering flowers together has restorative properties," she says. "Children brought up with even small amounts of nature in the home are predisposed to lower stress levels."

    Ready to pick some flowers of your own? The next slides show where you can visit you-pick flower farms in the Midwest, how to make your bouquets last and which flowers are the best for a cutting garden at home.

  • Spreading the joy at you-pick farms

    Omena Cut Flowers, north of Suttons Bay, Michigan, reflects the growing popularity of you-pick flower farms in the Midwest.

    Carolyn Faught started the farm to spread a little of the joy she's gained from tending her plants daily. "A lot of people don't have flowers to pick," Carolyn says. "It's a real experience to come and just walk amongst the flowers."

    Her six original small amateur beds have grown into 26 perfectly planned ones, draping over an acre with 150 feet of rolling shoreline (left). Customers can cut a bouquet or just enjoy the scenery. Many leave notes of hope, gratitude and inspiration. "Thank you for your celebration of everyday miracles," one visitor writes.

    Omena Cut Flowers

  • Cutting gardens to visit

    If you don't live within driving distance of Omena Cut Flowers, here are some others to try around the Midwest.

    Miss Effie's Country Flowers and Garden Stuff, Donahue, Iowa. Spend a day on the farm picking from among 90 different annuals and perennials. Miss Effie's Country Flowers and Garden Stuff

    Turner Farm, Cincinnati. Snip a few stems at this certified organic garden, or become a member of the flower share program, which lets you cut 10 bouquets throughout the season. ​Turner Farm

    Kemper Cutting Garden, Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. Immerse yourself in the display gardens, then browse the cutting garden for ideas on what to grow at home (flower-picking not allowed at the botanical gardens). ​Kemper Cutting Garden

    Cross Cutting Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minnesota. Although you can't cut plants here, you can check out 29 types of annuals and perennials and get ideas from University of Minnesota experts. Cross Cutting Garden


  • Make blooms last

    Maintain your bouquet's beauty with the tips on this slide and the next:

    Cut flowers and plants in the morning, when they're the most fragrant and filled with stored food.

    Cut stems diagonally, which produces much less cell damage.

    Use glass vases. Metal vases can poison the flowers.

    Use lukewarm water in your vase. Flowers, like you, don't like getting scalded or chilled when they enter a bath.

    Re-cut stems underwater right before putting them in a vase so the first "breath" flowers take is of water and not air.

  • More tips for better bouquets

    Keep bouquets away from fruit, which gives off a hormone called ethylene that harms flowers.

    Never spray bouquets with water. This encourages fungi to develop on petals and leaves.

    Crush the cut ends of stems on woody plants such as lilacs and flowering quince with a hammer to promote water absorption.

    Re-cut stems every few days to overcome the flowers' constant effort to repair and seal off the cut.

  • Grow your own bouquet

    A good cutting flower is one that holds its bloom for a long time and has a single sturdy stem. Try the perennials listed on this slide and the annuals on the next one.

    Asiatic lilies
    Daffodils and tulips
    Delphinium 'Pacific Giant' or 'Magic Fountain'
    Foxglove Digitalis x mertonensis 'Strawberry'
    Lady's mantle
    Lamb's ear
    Lupine Russell hybrid
    Painted daisies 'James Kelway'
    Peonies 'Sarah Bernhardt', 'Festiva Supreme' or 'David Harum'
    Phlox 'David' or 'Bright Eyes'
    Purple coneflower 'Magnus'
    Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'
    Veronica 'Speedwell'

    Growing Lavender in the Midwest

  • Good annuals for bouquets

    Try these annuals along with the perennials listed on the previous slide for beautiful cutting-garden plants.

    Larkspur 'Giant Imperial'
    Snapdragons 'Rocket'
    Sunflowers 'Sunrich Orange', 'Velvet Queen' or 'Sunrich Lemon'
    Tricolor sage
    Verbena bonariensis
    Zinnias 'Benary's Giants', 'Oklahoma' or 'State Fair'


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