Plants to put in a cutting garden are endless. But, flowers that have enough scent to bring indoors narrows the choices. Now, where to create a planting?
You may be one of the lucky ones, to have a single location for a cutting garden that can encompass all the best fragrant flowers. I would picture the location in full sun with a built-in portion of afternoon shade, a protected location from foraging wildlife and close to the backdoor for an easy jaunt out to cut a few stems.
In case you do not have the luxury of digging a brand new garden for the sole purpose, it is possible to decentralize your cutting garden. Interrogating your cutting garden will feed your desire to have a variety of plants, for their flowers as well as their foliage. Your cutting garden will become that proverbial bounty of scented material to bring bouquets of fragrance indoors.
Location Location Location
The maxim of right plant right placewas never more important. Even if you have a big sunny place for most of your cutting garden, consider smaller vignettes in shadier parts of the backyard or in your vegetable garden. Or, make a container garden at your backdoor for all the extras not growing in the back-forty.
Tulip bulbs planted where your food is growing, protected from munching rabbits, is a perfect safe place. There is nothing more wonderful than spring cut flowers on the dinner table. If your tomatoes like the company of marigold plants, keep them on your cutting garden list for lovely personal nosegays.
Shadier woodland locations for hostas or lilies-of-the-valley will give your outside garden a pleasant smell to walk through, however the foliage is a bonus to your creations. Lilies-of-the-valleys are more than petite white flowers and narrow green leaves. Look for varieties with pink blossoms or off-colored leaves, such as Convallaria ‘Albostriata’ or Convallaria ‘Cream da Mint.’
Fragrant Flower and Foliage Plants
Cutting gardens, if you want to bring the fragrance indoors, will be made up of plants that have a pleasant scent, not just the look. Find varieties with one or some of its kind with fragrant petals, foliage or both.
Purple coneflowers (Echinacea) and daylilies (Hemerocallis) are examples of plants with varying degrees of fragrant blooms across their cultivars, but there are some worth exploring. Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’ and Hemerocallis‘Big Yellow Bird’ are ideas; remember a daylily flower blooms for one day, cut an entire scape with a full spray of buds for ongoing blooms inside.
Lilies are popular bouquet flowers, but oriental lilies produce more scent. Roses are the iconic fragrant flower but growers have been breeding the scent out of many new cultivars. The Peace rose is a classic for fragrance and many David Austin roses are worth a look, consider Rosa ‘Heritage.’
In container gardens, annuals for fillers in vases are worth planting around. The sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima ‘Inlbusnopc’ is Snow Princess™, Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ and Nicotiana alata and Nicotiana sylvestris will give flower arrangements a boost.
Knock-your-socks off flowers are easily found in peonies but not all carry a pleasant scent inside the house. Paeonia‘Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt’ has both on 5” to 6” in diameter blooms. But, tree peonies will get cutting gardens and vases on dining room tables double-take stares.
Lastly, do not forget the leaves. Shade-loving hostas have fragrant flowers and attractive leaves to play double duty, scented flowers in the garden and big leaves for a vase. Consider Hosta ‘Aphrodite’ and Hosta ‘Stained Glass’ each light up a garden in late summer with white flowers and the attractive leaves make interesting flower arrangements.
Fragrant Cutting Gardens
Building a garden around fragrant plants is an easy way to bring the smells of your garden indoors to enjoy. A cutting garden can range from one large bed of many flowers to an arrangement of containers each filled with a singular plant.
About Chris Eirschele:
Chris Eirschele is a freelance garden writer who muses on Stay Gardening from her home in Arizona. A collection of her work may be found at Suite 101.