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The Moonlight Garden
The Water Garden
The Rock Garden
The Wild Flower Garden
The Court Of The Queen Of Flowers
The Children's Garden
The Bulb Garden
The Indoor Garden
The Garden That Faces Four Ways
What Can Be Done With Half An Acre
Old And New Flowers For The Garden
Where Are And Nature Meet
Our Birds And Our Gardens
The Flower Spectrum
Garden Friends And Foes
Trees And Tree Planting
Window Box Gardening
Flowers For Cutting
Garden Warnings
The More Common Garden Flowers And How To Grow Them

Flowers For Cutting

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

There are as many different kinds of gardeners, it is hardly needful to observe, as there are men and women. There are those who go about the garden armed with scissors, clipping off flower heads and letting them fall upon the ground because "the house is full of flowers, and there is nothing more to do with them, if they are to be kept blooming"; there are those who regard their flowers as they might favorite children, and who avoid cutting them whenever it is possible, preferring to see them bobbing their bright little heads in beckoning invitation to come out and play with them in the garden, to watching them die slowly in the house. Nevertheless, the average gardener has a decided penchant for flowers about him, within the house as well as without; and for such gardeners it may be well to suggest a few varieties of blossoms which chiefly lend themselves to purposes of cutting.

There is a feeling among some flower-lovers who enjoy cut blossoms that if too many be plucked the garden will lack the luxuriance which is one of its chief charms. While in a large or prolific garden such cutting is rarely felt to any noticeable degree, the feeling that this result may ensue often prevents the garden owner from filling his hands with bloom to the extent which his feelings would otherwise suggest. Especially is this the case when two or three households have access to the same garden. Against such possibility of mischance the possessor of a garden in Connecticut made happy provision. In addition to her own flowers she had, in a corner of the large grounds which encircled her country place, where stood a few cottages rented to near friends and relatives who shared with her in the privileges attaching to her realm, a " i cut flower garden." This was one, made with no eye to beauty save that which must be incidental to every garden, laid out upon the order of a vegetable garden, with plants which were best adapted to purposes of cutting. Here the seeker for cut flowers might come and help himself with the full knowledge that he was sure of marring no carefully planned beauty thereby; and the arrangement was a godsend to those who were, by its owner's kindness, permitted to share in it.

The owner of a lovely garden in Northern New Jersey, when applied to for her first choice in regard to a flower suitable for cutting, announced that she had three-dahlias, dahlias, and dahlias again. It is true that these are exceedingly well adapted to cutting. They last long in water and the brilliancy of the plant itself-none too great, in a general wayis enormously enhanced by the very much greater number of flowers which reappear to replace those which have been taken from the parent stem.

A close second to the dahlia-which, by the way, comes in early or late blooming varieties-is the gladiolus. This may be had at any time after the end of June by successive plantings, and will prove well worth the slight increase of trouble which is necessitated by this procedure. The gladiolus plant should not be entirely cut; the flower and its stem alone should be removed, as the presence of some part of the growth is essential to ripen the bulb. If leaves be removed, as is sometimes done to procure a little greenery, they should be taken from a plant where the flower is to be left. The gladiolus lasts in water perhaps longer than any other flower, and, constantly opening new buds as it does so, affords a pleasant variety to the ordinary cut flower in the house, whose story is generally one of sad deterioration from day to day.

The chrysanthemum and the zinnia are good flowers for cutting because of their lasting qualities and their brilliancy, but both are open to the very real objection that, unless the water in which they are placed is changed from day to day it becomes exceedingly offensive. The cosmos, though decorative in the garden at a season when decorative flowers are few, is almost as well worth growing for its cut-flower properties as it is for its effect outside, so satisfactory is it in this regard. Both this and the gladiolus, by the way, prove their excellent capabilities in this direction by their constant presence in restaurants, where, certainly, flowers are desired which will last as long as possible, without entailing the trouble and expense of a change.

Most of the blossoms mentioned have been fall flowers; are there none, then, suitable for cutting in the spring? Indeed there are; and one of the best is one which blooms among the first-the lily of the valley. These flowers, by the way, should be pulled, instead of removed by cutting as is usually done. The narcissus, too, is one of the best of the flowers for cutting, under the restrictions imposed for gladioli. The tulips are less attractive, because of the difficulty of arranging their heavy, nodding heads, as well as because they have no foliage, although this deficiency can be remedied by the friendly aid of smilax and asparagus; apart from these difficulties, they light up extremely well under artificial light. The peonies are magnificent for cutting, with their wonderful heads of bloom; while later, in early summer, come four flowers which are not only suitable for cutting, but which must be kept cut if a continuation of bloom be desired-the pansy, the sweet pea, the mignonette and the nasturtium. The two latter, if kept cut, will give a wealth of bloom all summer, the nasturtium being especially hardy and free-flowering. The first of them is apt to give some trouble to the flower-lover because of its difficulty to arrange effectively. The best results may be obtained by filling a shallow dish or bowl with sand, thoroughly wet, and standing each pansy upright in it. Treated in this way the cut pansy will last several days, but unless constantly in water-and in a handful of the pretty short-stemmed things, how many will be so? -they fade with great rapidity. For this reason, while they are fitted for house decoration if they can be given careful supervision and constant care, it is by no means safe to order a bunch of them sent a friend, or to decorate a pansy basket for church fair or bazaar. The chances are that, after hours of painstaking work, you will find when preparing to deliver it that your carefully arranged, pansies are wilting thoroughly and hopelessly.

In contrast to this unpleasant habit of the pansy, mention may be made of the petunia. I do not personally care for this as a cut flower, but that is a matter of taste, and certainly it is a delight to find one which revives in water so well. In a suburban town some years ago there lived an elderly gentleman who every morning came to the station bearing a paper bag filled with the finest of what the catalogues call "giant frilled and ruffled petunias." He used to distribute them among his fellow townsmen who were waiting for the train, and many a time have his blossoms, forgotten at the end of a long, hot day, and wilted out of a11 recognition to such an extent that they were often dropped to the floor unheeded, when picked up and put into water, become, in a wonderfully short time, as fresh as when they were gathered, and apparently none the worse for their hard experience. Such blooms must surely have their value in the cut-flower world, even though their growth does not lend itself to the artistic groupings beloved of the interior decorator.

Of other flowers suitable for cutting, the roses are, of course, satisfactory. So is golden glow, especially in a great gray pottery vase. So is phlox, the most useful of flowers in the house, as it is in the garden. The pyrethrums, too, are excellent, and last well when they are cut. So are the helenium, the sweet Mary (Monarda didyma and the purple bergamot.

Lilies, unfortunately, are not among the flowers which can be well used in cutting. Doing so, to use a technical term, "bleeds the bulb," and I have never known one to do as well as it did before, after the flowers had been cut. As to water lilies, they are most charming, and in a big black glass bowl are really ethereal in their beauty; the drawback to their use lies in the fact that it is practically impossible to know when they will close-I had almost said "on you," so personal do their disobliging habits seem. It is said that they will not shut if picked when they are open; but sometimes they do close under such circumstances, sometimes to reopen and sometimes not; while lily connoisseurs of considerable name and fame have been known to pluck with assurance lilies which followed exactly the same procedure-which inclines the observer to classify the use of cut water lilies as a lottery, which can only be won by the gathering of many more than will actually be required so as to ensure a wide margin of safety in case of mischance.

Mention has been made of the sweet pea, which was for the moment not considered in detail because of the more pressing delinquencies of the pansy. This is a most satisfactory plant for all purposes, and as has been said, grows better the more that it is cut. Its culture is not difficult, hinging chiefly on the necessity of starting it early. A three-acre field in Massachusetts, some years ago, was planted along one entire side in a solid mass of the flowers. No one went down the road when their owner was sitting by his door who did not receive a hearty invitation to come in and help himself; and no one declined it, for the sight in its luxuriance and beauty attracted the attention of every passer-by.

The sometimes rather shamefaced thanks of the visitors who came out laden with enormous armfuls of the blossoms were always received with the kindly assurance that the flowers bloomed better if they were well picked; and certain is it that the display which went on all summer, and for several summers, amply bore out the truth of the statement. It may be noted, however, regarding the question of sweet peas for cut flowers that, though satisfactory enough for ordinary purposes, the delicate pastel tints of the blossoms lose something of their beauty on the second day. This is obvious in places where the flowers are, so to speak, on show, though hardly so elsewhere. In such a case, the flowers should never be plucked until the day when they are needed. At a recent wedding the bouquets of the bridesmaids, though apparently fresh, had obviously, to the eye of the sweet pea connoisseur, been made up on the preceding day.

One consideration of cut flowers should be taken up in particular-their use in table decoration. During the flower shows in New York this use of them has been recently featured, and with really memorable results. One table, the living incarnation of spring,. was decorated in narcissi, whose white petals and little yellow centers rose most effectively from vases of the palest apple-green Venetian glass. Daffodils, too, gave a touch suggestive of the glories of the coming summer.

They were placed on a table over which two pale yellow runners were thrown, which crossed each other at right angles in the middle. At the four corners, each standing upon a groundwork of yellow scarf, daffodils rose from vases, while the table was set with china in lustrous iridescent tones of yellow. Larkspur was also used, although since blue is not among the colors which "light up" well, the darker varieties are ineffective in this use. Fruit, of various tropical kinds, was arranged to form a most striking center decoration. Tulips, as has been observed, do not group well when cut, but a good table adornment may well be composed with a pot of tulips as its central motif, the pot itself being concealed by any one of a variety of expedients. One of the loveliest of arrangements, not novel but not easily surpassed, consists of an extensive use of pink rambler roses, piled high in a glass or crystal basket, twined about its upstanding handle, and trailing over the table. Indeed, in the summer, when the garden is at its height, an infinite variety of color schemes is open to the table-decorator, and his only difficulty is to choose from among them that best suited to his needs.

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