Cutting garden and fresh flower arrangements

Cutting Gardens, Plus Flower Arranging Tips from a Local Florist

July through September on Cape Cod is always a beautiful thing. And what a perfect place to experiment with a cutting garden! The biggest challenge is to choose flower arrangements with all-season blooms and produce a varied palette of color, shape, texture, and height. I loved photographing my flowering treasures as much as cutting and arranging them in a collection of vases.

Pick your favorite flower from a cutting garden

For vases, I am lucky enough to shop at Coco Blanca where we boast a beautifully curated selection like these polished ceramic Elba vessels, available in two sizes.

Flower Elba Vases

And for advice on flower arranging, I always defer to my friend Phyllis Kennedy of Enchanted Florist. After all, she helped create a gorgeous setting with her floral decor at my daughter’s wedding this past January. Love her Instagram images!

The Enchanted Florist flower design


Below are some invaluable tips Phyllis shared with me:

How To Extend the Life of a Fresh Flower Arrangement

Always, always, always — Start with a CLEAN vase. This is the single most important consideration in making flowers last as long as possible. Bacteria can remain for a very long time, particularly on surfaces that are not smooth — use a bit of bleach and soap and really clean your vessels. At least every other day it is very beneficial to pour out the water and re-fill with fresh clean water. This also helps to reduce the build up of bacteria, thus making flowers last longer. When I toss my flowers, I wash the vessels well, with a brush, and then let them soak overnight with a bit of bleach in the water.

Use a tepid water temperature. Not too hot. Warm water helps with the uptake. Foliage should be removed from the stems at the water level — no leaves in the water! Try to always cut on the diagonal, as this creates more surface space for water absorption. When cutting hydrangeas, a long cut opening up the fleshy white in the stem is imperative. We have recently done some experimenting with preservatives and found that our flowers lasted at least as long without it. This saves a lot of time and trouble too!

Be sure to cut EARLY in the morning when cutting garden flowers, and who doesn’t love to do that? They will have re-hydrated overnight and hopefully have enjoyed cooler temperatures. Cutting in the middle of the day will usually result in limp flowers and disappointment.

Choose a location that is not in direct sunshine or by a draft for your arrangement. I suggest finding two to three places in your home and learning just what looks good there. Once you have the right vessel, it becomes easier to choose your stems.

Some long lasting options include orchids of all types, along with some surprising ones like zinnias in the summer. Lilies are always a good option for long lasting, but they will need a little “grooming” as the days go by — totally worth it if you like fragrance! Even flowers like carnations or mini carnations are options, but they should be used in a mono-botanical style for a good look.

Choose seasonal favorites. My favorite fall choices (today) are dahlias, combined with coleus foliage for an explosion of fall color.

And now I am back in London, and always inspired by the way they do window boxes. Perhaps another blog post in the making?

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