Flowers for bouquets are often grown in their own gardens, in tidy straight rows, and exist not to beautify your yard, but to kick out lots of stems that are promptly cut just as the blossoms begin to unfurl. These "cutting gardens" are not necessarily the nicest to look at, but they sacrifice their beauty for the vase, where they can provide up to a few weeks of enjoyment in a portable format. If you lack the space for a proper cutting garden, you can always dip into the front yard flower beds for a stem or two and no one will know the difference but you. In fact, many perennials will produce for a longer season and in a more robust fashion if they have their stems cut now and then. Here are some favorite perennials and woody ornamental shrubs that are forgiving of the cutting shears and a boon in the bouquet.
- Japanese Willow Salix Hakaro Nishiki.This is a stunning filler. Pink, green and white variegated foliage looks like delicate petals. Shrub willows always benefit from regular cutting and on this variety, the new growth is more pink and flashy.
Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'. Most hydrangeas do really well in vases, they act as a delicate, feminine filler and are long lasting. Can be dried for everlasting arrangements as well.
- Physocarpus 'Summer Wine'. Another shrub that is well suite for bouquets. Arching, dark burgundy stems and leaves, pale pink/white blossoms that cover the stem and a sweet aroma make this a lovely addition to mixed bouquets. Cut the stems long for a dramatic effect .
- Salvia 'May Night'. A dark blue/purple with medium length stems. Cutting the stems low down near the crown of the plant will help to stimulate more blooms and will help control diseases by increasing air flow.
- Asclepias tuberosa. This orange-flowered cultivar of milkweed is taller than the native version, long lasting in vases, and does not mind a cut here or there in the least.
- Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'. A pale pink bloom, nice in the vase as a simple combo with the dark burgundy stems of the previously mentioned physocarpus shrub.
- Rudbeckia 'goldstrum'. A cheery late summer flower that is lovely with echinacea purperea, Salvia 'May Night' and even golden rod.
- Monarda 'gardenview scarlet'. A cheery, red bee-balm that also benefits from frequent stem cuts. Anytime you cut out some foliage, air fow is increased and the risk of foliar disease is decreased.
- Phlox paniculata 'David'. A delicate white addition to early- and mid- summer arrangements. Tall stems are great for drama and the divine fragrance really fills a whole room.
- Achillea 'Colorado' or 'Apricot Delight' or 'Sunny Seduction'. These are all well branched cultivars that produce an abundance of tall, wiry stems that are perfect for the vase. Early summer to mid summer blooming can be encouraged to bloom again in the fall with repeated pruning and cutting. Can be used in everlasting arrangements as well.
All of these shrubs and perennials can be found at our retail greenhouse in Hinesburg, but if you are not in the area, they are fairly common varieties, readily available in any well-stocked garden center. The varieties above are easy to grow and add beauty to your home with staggered bloom times, varying heights and light requirements. Let us know what some of your favorite perennials are for bouquets!And remember, if you are planning to grow your own flowers for an event (wedding?!), be flexible and have fun. Let the season and your climate guide you.