One of my favorite things is looking out into the garden on a quiet morning when most people are still sleeping, or just getting up, and the sun is just starting to come through the windows. With the windows open and a soft breeze sweeping in, carrying the sweet fragrance of summer flowers and cut lawn, I’m truly in heaven. Just writing this transports me back to my childhood bedroom, waking up and looking out the window to my neighborhood below. Those moments where the breeze, sun, and fragrance collide are engraved into my heart. Even if I just get one of the three, it’s enough to make me smile. It’s also why I love fresh cut flowers so much…their cheerful presence and sweet aroma seem to mend the spirit.

It’s one thing to visit the florist (or floral section of the grocery store) and pick up a bouquet of flowers and a whole other thing to cultivate your own cutting garden. Arrangements can be more than carnations, lilies, and baby’s breath. While most places limit you to the same fifteen or so flowers, with your own cutting garden you can expand your selection immensely. Roses, hydrangeas, forsythias, lilacs, phlox, asters, black-eyed susans, sunflowers, coneflowers, snapdragrons, cosmos, pot marigolds, and zinnias are just a few options for your cutting garden; the list goes on! Consider the length of the flower’s stem and the time they bloom when making a preferred list since you want to actually get them into a vase and you want to have flowers throughout the summer and into the spring and fall. Also consider foliage plants like various ornamental grasses, coleus, hostas, and ferns for extra diversity in your arrangements (and your garden!).

If you don’t have the space for a specific cutting garden, consider planting appropriate flowers, grasses, and shrubs throughout your property so that a leisurely stroll through the garden yields you a beautiful bouquet. Now, don’t go through your garden and cut every flower down…be very mindful. Cut from the back of a perennial bed, be judicious and conservative. It’s one thing to take a few flowers here and there and snip a few branches of hydrangea flowers or lilacs, but take too much and all of a sudden you’ve done some really…interesting…pruning and your garden will look pretty rough. Having a specific cutting garden area allows you to be a little more aggressive with your cutting because they’re serving their purpose and you’ve selected plants that can, more or less, take the cutting.

Your gardens are more than things to look at. Get out there and experience them up close and then invite them inside with you. Scientists have proven the benefits of having plants and flowers around you and when I look out the window on those peaceful mornings and see the breeze ripple through the leaves, I understand their findings completely.