The View From The Garden

This year I will plant a cutting garden for at least one client. If you have the space and like to have a lot of flowers in the house, a cutting garden is a great addition and a real treat. Like a vegetable garden, it is a production garden where one can grow flowers in amounts and varieties that may not be appropriate to other beds on the property. This garden will be designed according to the specific tastes of the client but if I were to plant one for myself I would surely include gladiolus, dahlias and lilies, three of the showiest flowers for cutting.

When I was a girl, my mother always planted gladiolus (we called then “glads”) in the vegetable garden. They seem to go in and out of favor but to me they say “Summer!” They are available in many colors from white to purple and can be simple to gaudy. They like full sun, well-drained soil and they may need to be staked to stand up. They are not supposed to live through our winters, needing to be lifted, stored and replanted, but I have had the same ones blooming in my garden for five years! While I would not plan on that happening, there are some varieties that should last here in the garden in good growing conditions. Be sure to try acidanthera (Abyssinian gladiolus).

To me, dahlias are the showgirls of the garden. I like them in all sizes but nothing beats a dinner plate dahlia for sheer exuberant floweriness and a big bouquet of dahlias can take my breath away. There is nothing subtle about them. Even the pure white ones are ravishing!  These, also, will need full sun, good soil and a well-drained location. They will not live in our winter and will need to be lifted and stored for the winter. The larger the flower, the more staking the plant will need and if the plant is a tall one, it will need staking regardless of the size of the flowers. The results are worth the effort and I like the challenge of staking them!! They are available in so many shapes, colors and sizes that an entire garden could be made using nothing but dahlias. Now there is a thought!

If dahlias are the showgirls, then lilies may be the ballerinas in that they look delicate but are very strong. There are several types of lilies that can be planted for different bloom times as well as different flower forms. However, they all like sun, well-drained soil, a ph of 6.5 to 6 and loose soil with good humus content. They do not do well at all in clay-type soil.

Asiatic lilies bloom in early summer and have generally upward facing flowers. Next, blooming in early summer, are the Longiflorum/Asiatic hybrids a cross of Asiatic and Easter lily types. In mid to late summer, the Oriental ones bloom. And there are other types including some species types that are often more challenging to grow but so rewarding if successful. I planted a martagon type, Mrs. R.O. Backhouse years ago. It did not come up for two years, after I had forgotten about it. Now that it does come up, and stronger each year, it is a true treasure.

Lilies grow from two to seven feet tall, depending on the age of the bulb and the variety. Needless to say, the taller ones will need to be staked. Lilies do not need to be lifted for the winter, and when happy, will increase in size until they need to be dug up and split. They, like dahlias, are available in many colors and sizes and if the gardener chooses carefully, there can be lilies blooming most of the summer in the garden.

Gladiolus, dahlias and lilies can also be grown in the borders and beds to be cut or not. This is the time of year to order them. It may take the lilies a year to begin blooming fully. Be sure to buy good quality bulbs and plant them carefully for years of flowers.

For dahlias I recommend Swan Island Dahlias and for gladiolus and lilies, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Both are online and very reliable, supplying top quality bulbs and tubers.

For gardening discussion call Jeanelle Myers at 631-434-5067.

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