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  • Writer's pictureShelley Barnett

A Season of Flowers

Cut flowers bring natural beauty into our homes and I wanted to enjoy them all season long. My perennials provide wonderful flowers but each for a finite time, so I needed an assortment of annuals to have continuous blooms. I filled my raised beds with cut flowers and waited for the bounty.

Producing flowers from seeds has been a mixed bag for me so I put in plant starts. I spaced them tightly, modeled after flower growers, to see how many I could squeeze in. It worked but I will give them more space next year.

Tip: plant annuals by the last frost date or sooner to get an early start

This season I planted multiple varieties of zinnias, cosmos, salvia, gomphrena, ammi, dianthus and ameranth. Next year I will plant my favorites with some new annuals too. Experimenting with new flowers brings fun surprises and a broader pallette.

Annuals vary in how they produce flowers. Some keep producing, like zinnias, so the more you cut, the more you get. It is key to cut or deadhead this type often to keep them blooming. Other annuals, such as sunflowers, only produce one flower (or set of flowers) and once you cut it, that's it. You need staggered plantings to have more of these.

Tip: cut or deadhead 'cut n come' annuals daily

New to me this year was 'firecracker' gomphrena. It was a playful addition to my bunches with its bright color, tiny yellow accents, shape and texture. With strong stems and little foliage, it was an all around winner.

'firecracker' gomphrena


Bulbs and early perennials make up spring bouquets well before any annuals bloom. These first bunches are fresh and welcome after the winter.

Bleeding heart adds considerably with its unique shape and branching structure.

Lenten rose and fritillaria give a different look for spring.

Tip: water annuals regularly between rain falls

Bright green lady's mantle pops when paired with pink coral bells and purple iris. Iris have a short vase life so I include some buds which keep blooming. This works great for daylilies too.

Early Summer

Perennials are a cherished part of my bouquets. I look forward to my favorites and like to mix in unusual selections as well.

Clematis are a striking surprise in the vase as a single flower or as trailing blooms. You can add the buds and flower centers too.

Crocosmia is exotic in arrangemens at any stage of bud or bloom.

Allium's globe shape is lively and the seed pods stand out.

Tip: harvest blooms directly into water during a cool part of the day

Peonies are a favorite mine with their luscious blooms. They can be picked at any point, from a tight bud to a full bloom, as they open easily in the vase.

Along with any feature flowers, I broaden my bouquets with attractive fillers and foliage. My favorite additions are curious and unexpected such as tight buds, partly open flowers, seed pods and berries.

Tip: add the unusual to your bouquets; anything goes


Grasses make good filler as do airy flower stems and foliage.


Foliage can make a statement with color, shape and form.

Tip: keep flowers out of the sun as you pick them


Buds are amazing and add a unique flair to your bunches.

Partly Open or Just Past Flowers

Flowers offer more than just full bloom.

False indigo has delightful foliage and amazing seed pods that both add interest.


This bouquet has liatrus, crocosmia and daylily buds, all just opening. Plus some of my favorite green poppy seed pods with their unique color and shape.

Tip: let flowers hydrate in a cool place for an hour or more before arranging them

This liatrus has begun to open and is with a mix of scabiosa buds and blooms, 'fire cracker' gomphrena and two types of ammi.

Tip: give each stem a fresh cut as you add it to the vase

Late Summer

Flowers make wonderful gifts saying anything from thinking of you to I love you and I delivered this bunch to a friend's doorstep. It includes late summer flowers: anenome, hydrangea and sedum.

Tip: remove all foliage that touches or is submerged in water

Asters are a lovely late summer bloom and I wish they produced more than one round of flowers.


Tip: change vase water frequently

Limelight hydrangea are easy to grow and shine in arrangements all the way through.

My season of cut flowers ended with a final bouquet of grasses and seed pods. The grasses were pink for fall which was a lovely contrast for the dark pods.

I was uplifted and inspired by many months of spectacular blooms. I hope you are inspired to stretch the boundries next season, as you gather your bunches to bring in.


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