Cutting Gardens When You Have Little Space


Having a dedicated cutting garden is the best of all worlds. You have your show garden and one for taking all that you want for displays. Smaller urban properties like mine have limited space for a cutting garden and having the sole purpose to cut flowers for arranging is not very prudent. Gardens can look ravaged if you cut multiple arrangements every week like I do throughout the growing season. I cut in every garden and place cutting flowers throughout my property. I also place cutting flowers in large pots, more on that coming up.

I had a dedicated cutting garden until the side bed went all Black-eyed Susan. My fault I know not keeping those Susans in line. I never planned on the entire garden being a cutting garden, but in time that is what it became since I love fragrant flowers indoors.


I did take flower arranging courses with a well-known professional in our area, but I have to admit, he would not call me a star student. I lack the discipline apparently to be good at this profession since I do what I like rather than what is good floral design. As a designer, I realize how frustrating that can be when the expert knows it could look and work much better. I run into that with clients.

The spillers, fillers and thrillers are not always blooming exactly when you want them, so that means arrangements are not always up to snuff. Plus, I just use the vases I have around, rather than getting particularly creative. So don’t follow how I arrange my vases.


Henry’s Gardens flower fields

 So why read this post?

What you might pick up from this post is the flowers I added to the garden that are good cutting candidates. I don’t grow Gypsophila, or Baby’s Breath, but do get it from the local grower. I purchased it as a filler from a grocery store just to assemble my garden flowers for late spring. Too early for Baby’s Breath. Too early for Statice too. Everything else in the vases are from the spring garden.

Flower-Arrangement Detail--flower-Arrangement

I started getting cutting flower plants from a specialized nursery just to please the pollinators and later, to add to my indoor enjoyment. But what I found was I had to be selective about choices to get good garden worthy plants. Who better to ask than a local grower…

A local cut flower farm has the best selection of self sowing and not so common annuals to fill the garden with long-stemmed blooms for cutting. It is Henry’s Gardens, a place I posted on last year. It was my first visit to their farm, now I am a regular.


Barb above, the owner, is a creative floral designer and plant buyer for her store. The group of plants below all have long stems and five of them are from her farm, Henry’s Gardens in Eden, NY. Her choice of cut flowers are often very different than you may be familiar. Some I purchased from her are perennial, some annual and some biennial. They have a wonderful selection at their location, 7884 Sisson Hwy, Eden, NY.

I added a few neat new juicy varieties this year, hoping they sizzle this summer and seed freely. New this year is Cosmos ‘Choca Mocha’, Ozothamnus ‘Radiance’, Gaura ‘Indian Summer’, and Dianthus ‘Sweet Black Cherry’ (really love this one from Henry’s and shown in both arrangements) and one I picked up yesterday, Zinnia ‘Magellan Pink’. Barb called it a landscape Zinnia, which appears to be a bit shorter and a fuller plant with large flowers.


The Great Spangled Fritillary, Monarch and Silver Spotted Skipper all relish the Verbena bonariensis that I got from Barb last year. Even if you don’t want to cut the flowers, the butterflies will flock to it. But… cutting it makes a lot more blooms through the summer on this self-sowing plant. This verbena can be purchased from Henry’s too and is shown in the garden below.

The lilies, Scabiosa, Yarrow, and Delphinium have been in the garden a long time. A few other annual self-sowers are in the vase too, cosmos and Antirrhinum, snapdragon. I usually have Sweet peas, but culled them this year because they got out of hand. They will be back though, they never leave.


I do the arranging in the garden so if I want to add, I just go snip a few more flowers. Below, I added the fern.


Mostly I do arrangements to be viewed from all sides, but this one went inside against a wall. The other arrangement I added cosmos and it is viewed from all around.


What I like about these cutting garden flowers is the ephemeral beauty, the small, delicate flowers towering above the others. It is like having a garden new over and over as the season progresses seeing all the flowers bloom.


I scour the garden with my pruners in one hand and a steel bucket in the other, the fresh blooms drinking up the water. Soon the Chrysanthemums can be harvested like ‘Becky’ and ‘Alaska’.


Summer is for lilies and hot colors like orange.


I use leaves, berries and seed heads in fall that compliment the flowers all growing season. Come winter, there are boxwood, arborvitae and Juniper to make decorations and wreaths. I am not beyond taking fall blooming meadow flowers either.

I make many arrangements from plants others consider weeds, often with forest finds. Some of my favorite arrangements are those made from wildflowers mixed with garden perennials. See my post, Pick Your Weeds – Don’t Pull Them Just Yet.


Right now I have foxglove, yarrow, iris, Delphinium, catmint, verbena, snapdragon, scabiosa, Gaura, trollius, lupine, Salvia, penstemon, butterflyweed, lavender, Asiatic lilies, fern, hosta, Mexican sunflowers, and poppies to cut among others. Some plants are not vase worthy in the garden like daylilies for instance, but they really brighten a summer garden bed and I have LOTS of Asiatic Lilies.


Herbs of any kind can be added to your bouquets to create a sweet fragrance. Certain vegetables have great colored stems and leaves too. I don’t have any vegetables in the garden currently, but I did raid it for leaves when I did.

So do you cut your garden flowers? Are you going to plant to cut now? Remember if you are local, Henry’s Gardens is the place to get some great cutting flowers to add to your garden. They also have some very neat items in the store too.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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24 Responses to Cutting Gardens When You Have Little Space

  1. I rarely take the time to cut the flowers and bring them in, but I should. If you have a wide variety of plants, it is pretty easy to make a lovely, colorful arrangement as you have shown.

    • I agree it is easy to please oneself having loads of flowers in which to choose. I always please me, but then again, I know enough that there are things I could do better, like certain flower replacement or making some stems shorter etc. Those floral designers do some really wonderful work. We had two I know at our Lewiston GardenFest this weekend. Linda from Summertime Blooms made a really nice arrangement using colored wire and flowers. Bob, my floral instructor from our Niagara Falls Garden Club, also did a demo. He uses a lot of found objects.

  2. A.M.B. says:

    Interesting! Those arrangements are lovely (even if you don’t consider yourself a “star student”).

    • Thank you. I saw my “teacher” yesterday give a demonstration at the Lewiston GardenFest where I “worked” this weekend. We were walking around critiquing the container garden contest entries. He was saying how creative they were. We did get some very nice arrangements. Thanks for liking my arrangements. I know if I fussed, they might be nicer, but I am always more happy cutting them than arranging them.

  3. I frequently cut my flowers, in fact I grow some flowers for that sole purpose. But my potager (which includes veggies and flowers) is on a hill on the side of the house. So, no one would really notice if I deadheaded a bunch of the flowers. I mainly grow them for church arrangements, but sometimes I give flowers to friends and family, too. Plus, there’s always something new blooming, and some of the plants in that garden are for show and not for cutting. I really like all your arrangements, Donna. Thanks for the ideas. I need to remember to use ferns more often in my arrangements.

    • I too make them for gifts and to take to grave sites. These particular flowers were cut for our Lewsiton GardenFest this weekend to be put on the hospitality tables. I have one arrangement in the house. I find there is enough parties I am invited to all summer where I take my flowers as a hostess gift. My whole growing cut flower passion started with the insects, but grew when I started taking flowers everywhere. I am slowly running out of containers though. Guess I need to start looking at garage sales or getting more creative. Sometimes I use colorful produce cans. They are free after using the canned tomatoes and look pretty neat filled with colorful flowers.

  4. Alisha says:

    interesting to know how you make those arrangements …thanks for great ideas Donna..

  5. Loretta says:

    Great flower arrangements Donna – I can’t figure out what those outdoor vases are sitting on – they look stunning! I too love bringing the outdoors indoors, and just this week I brought some of my Asiatic lilies indoors, but one has to be very careful with the stamens that stain.

    • That is my outdoor dining table that lost the tempered glass top and umbrella in a wind storm last year. I tried to get a replacement from where I bought it, but they don’t get them made, not even the umbrella that matches the chairs. So I have to go to a glass store and have the glass top specially made. As for the lilies, yes they do stain terribly, but most floral designers tell you to pull the stamens before use. I have a large ceramic square server I made years ago that I sit the vase. These flower arrangements were actually made for our garden club event and went there.

  6. I sometimes cut my flowers when I have lots of them, but of they will be missed in my garden, a leave them there. I love bringing hyacinth inside in the spring. It’s so fragrant, I sometimes have to move it from room to room so I don’t get overpowered by the perfume– and that’s a single bloom!

    • I too love the spring bulbs, but like you say the fragrance is lovely but strong. I have a problem with Oriental lilies too. There are quite a few flowers I don’t like the smell. Petunias and marigolds are two examples.

  7. Susan Loughran says:

    Your arrangements really are lovely. One suggestion, put the heavier flowers like the lilies in the lower portion of the arrangement. Their heaviness at the top is what make it look out-of-balance and ready to tip. Please take this as constructive criticism from a NGC Master Judge. I really enjoy your all of your posts

    • Thank you much, Sue, advice is always welcome from an expert like yourself. I will take your advice for next arrangement. I agree lilies will be too top heavy when they open. If the arrangement is still fresh looking when the lilies pop, I will take your advice and cut them shorter and put them lower in the arrangement. Or if not, I will add fresh lilies and make it a lily bouquet. I am always cutting and never throw out flowers still blooming. I just go get some new ones to add and toss the spent ones. I used to feel bad cutting the flowers until I saw how productive certain plants became after cutting for arrangements. I know cutting lilies like I did here means the bulbs will be spent, but I have way to many lilies in the garden. I have my own ‘lily farm’ almost – they are so garden frisky. Some of the plants though really encouraged me to cut and cut. Thanks again. BTW, I will never be entering my arrangements in shows like our county fair or Garden Club events. I don’t think I could ever measure up to those entries. I do it for fun and to share my flowers with others.

      • Susan Loughran says:

        Too many lilies…wow. I just planted my first lily bulbs this year. Don’t know why it has taken me so long. It’s great that you can have so many that you can cut and bring them into the home. There’s nothing like a fresh flower bouquet especially when the flowers come from your own garden. And, who cares what the arrangement looks like when it’s not being judged, the enjoyment is what counts. BTW your photos are wonderful. Sharon Low put me onto your blog a few years ago and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.

  8. I really like the mix of flowers you use for cutting, especially that chocolate cosmos. This year I planted a mid-height cosmos that was supposed to be red but turned out to be magenta. I also have a variety of Zinnia called ‘Cut and Cut Again’. I never thought of using butterflyweed as a cut flower, the idea is appealing. I wonder if Swamp Milkweed would also work. We always mean to bring in more flowers than we actually do. Judy likes to cut the flowerheads of the ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas. We have a bumper crop of Asiatic Lilies these days and we should really cut some. They will start blooming any day. Maybe this year.

    • Thanks, try a few, you will find them interesting additions. You can get the seed for most too I think. I heard Barb telling another gardener where to get seed. Her Zinnia are very tall, but the one she gave me is short and bushy. It seems to like the garden too. I have used milkweed in arrangements, I love the flowers. I can’t remember how long they lasted though. I am not one to care if they last since I am always adding fresh to my indoor arrangements. When I take flowers as gifts, I make sure to only add those that last a week.

      Every three years I have had to dig up the lily and iris bed, so now I just cut the whole stalk and it keeps them better under control. I am brutal on cutting iris too. I wish they would be a bit slower in growth. I was just talking to the Iris Society at the Lewiston GardenFest, and they want me to add more iris! I told them I have many variety of Iris to span the season and they want me to add more really late bloomers and remontant iris. I have a ton of bearded iris. Among beardless irises, many varieties in the Spuria subgroup bloom from late spring to midsummer. Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and Japanese iris (I. ensata) bloom from mid-spring to early summer. Beardless southern blue flags (I. virginica) bloom around early summer. Bulbous irises including Dutch, Spanish, and English iris will grow to midsummer. Whole gardens can be iris they way they multiply if they like conditions. They make nice cut flowers though…

  9. I really liked your arrangements and the yellow yarrow complemented your other flowers nicely. I have some yarrow, but I don’t think to cut it and use it in arrangements. Thanks for the info.
    Also, I was reading your comment above on the irises and lilies. I just started with a few lilies about 3 years ago, and I’ve been trying to keep the rabbits away from them. They are doing pretty good this year and they all have blooms on them but haven’t opened yet. So right now they are not a problem for me as far as numbers, but the irises- now that’s another story. I really need to get into that bed and divide them. That might be a good project in a few weeks. I’m hoping for some of the mosquitoes to die off first. (of course that might not happen for awhile yet)

    • Thank you Sue. I love my iris and have so many varieties, yet they can be a bear to dig. It always is such a chore and I am never up for it. I never had a problem with rabbits and lilies. I guess because there is so much in the garden for them. Sunflowers and squirrels though, I need a BB gun at bloom time. The huge wind storm last night knocked all of them and the most delphinium to the ground. I have most of my Delphinium indoors now. Lots of arrangements!

  10. Love your arrangements. I agree, there is such an art to arranging. Your butterfly shots are amazing.

  11. I can never make myself cut the flowers! I know I should…but a bee or butterfly might need it more than I do! Haha! I suppose that as I extend my beds I’ll feel like I could spare a few for me. Great post. I love the gathered-bouquet-from-the-garden look more than the over designed look! ~Julie

    • My garden is tightly planted and almost all of it in plants. I sometimes regret having all garden because of the work involved, but when the pollinators visit everyday it makes me glad I have all the flowers. There is more than enough flowers for them and when I cut back perennials, I get most to rebloom in 2-3 weeks, so not much is missing for them at any given time. It is a balancing act for sure in every respect. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  12. Well you know I love to cut flowers and I do it several times during the week as I chose whatever is growing in abundance or may need to be rescued like peonies before the rain….I have just started creating some containers and areas for specific cutting flowers and will continue that with another specialized bed I am putting in this fall. Great pointers.

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