I try not to complain too much about winter in New England, considering that it’s my choice to live here and cold weather comes with the territory, but after this particularly frigid and gray winter, I want nothing more than to surround myself in beautiful, fresh flowers.
For now, I’m picking up whatever the grocery store floral department has to offer for any glimpse of fresh color, but it won’t be long before the ground begins to thaw and little bits of green begin to poke through the brown earth. In just a few weeks I’ll be heading to the garden center to add new plantings that will bring my landscape to life. When planning my gardens, I try to give equal importance to both how the plants will look in the landscape and how I can use them to cut blooms and greenery to fill my home with fresh flowers all spring, summer, and fall. Here are some of my favorite plants that have beautiful blooms, and, for the most part, don’t require too much maintenance.
The only thing lovelier than a peony in bloom is an entire bouquet of peonies in bloom. Their layers upon layers of petals, in colors ranging from white to intensely deep pink, is simply stunning. Peonies are perennials (that is, they come back each year) that bloom in late spring and early summer. They only last a few weeks, but they’re beauty is well worth the time and space you dedicate to them.
Any type of hydrangea (and there are lots) is great as a cut flower indoors, and I try to plant several types so that I have options for different styles of flower arrangements. I like to have some blue, a white (see the image at the top of this article), and some limelight hydrangea (which have a cone shape instead of the typical ball shape) in my garden for the greatest flexibility in arrangements. Hydrangeas are hardy and that their buds can be as pretty in arrangements as the blooms themselves, plus, you can still use them when the blooms begin to dry in the fall. Mature hydrangeas offer copious amounts of blooms so you don’t feel guilty cutting them, and because they are shrubs they offer a nice border to any landscape. They are also very easy to maintain and resilient, making them a go-to choice for amateur gardeners and seasoned pros alike.
Dahlias are available in dozens of varieties, sizes, and colors. Some produce flowers that will easily stand alone at as large as 10-inches in diameter while smaller blooms can be clustered into a bouquet. They have a long blooming season throughout the summer and fall, they are long-lasting once cut, and it’s easy to mix varieties together for a simple, beautiful arrangement.
Though snapdragons recently have been considered old-fashioned, they’re making a strong comeback. Not only will they add height to your garden, they’re a great way to add height to an arrangement. They also create their own striking arrangement when grouped into a bunch. With ombre-like colors on each stalk and a wide array of colors to choose from, snapdragons can make a subtle addition or a bold statement to your bouquets, depending on how you use them.
They may not have the longest growing season, but tulips are one of the first flowers to arrive in spring, and I start longing for them as soon as winter begins to turn the corner. Tulips look just as lovely arranged loosely as they do in a tight packed arrangement and also work wonderfully as an accent to another primary flower when cut. Blooms start popping up in about April where I live, but bulbs should be planted in the fall, so start thinking ahead now and you won’t be disappointed next spring. Cluster them together in your garden beds for maximum effect.
All photos by Sarah Fernandez, except wher noted.