Cut and come again

Submitted photo. This is a perfect time of year to plant Sunflowers, and other flowering plants or sow seeds that will produce an abundance of long stem, often fragrant flowers for use all season long.

As we pass the longest day of the year, June 21, the plants in your garden are responding to all that sunshine by growing to beat the band. The flowers too.
We encourage you to get out and enjoy the show as it is changing every day, though subtly. Your daily garden tour or condo balcony review reveals untold secrets including new flowers that seemingly appear over night.
Which reminds us that one of the best ways to enjoy the flowers in your garden is to cut them and bring them indoors, where you live. Having some “cutting flowers” indoors is a great treat for everyone who ventures indoors and is greeted by their colour and fragrance.
This is a perfect time of year to plant many flowering plants or sow seeds that will produce an abundance of long stem, often fragrant flowers for use all season long. Here is our list of the top 10:
Calendula. Pot Marigold. An old fashioned annual that your grandmother would have planted in a row in her vegetable garden. Sow from seed now in a sunny position and in 6 to 8 weeks you will have brilliant, orange, or yellow flowers suitable for cutting. Cut the stem deeply at first to encourage more flowers. 20 to 30 cm tall.
Cosmos. Also sown directly in the soil, Cosmos, which means “beautiful flower” in Greek, kosmos, matures to about a meter and a half high and produces an abundance of bright, hot coloured flowers in 8 weeks from seeding. Cut as often as you please as they are prolific. Pollinating insects love cosmos. Needs lots of sun.
Sunflowers. Start sunflowers by seed out of doors in the sunniest spot in your garden. They germinate in a week this time of year and grow like stink. Blooms occur in late summer or early fall and attract honeybees and native bees while in flower and songbirds, as they go to seed. Cut some of the long stem flowers before then to enjoy indoors.
Rudbeckia. Plant out now for perennial colour in August and September. Hardy perennial that clumps over time and produces more flowers each year. The award winning Goldstrum rudbeckia will bloom for up to 10 weeks, providing lots of opportunity to cut the flowers and enjoy. 120 cm high, sun.
Shasta daisy. Very popular as a reliable garden perennial and cut flower. So easy to grow there is a saying about “pushing up daisies” that suggests that when we die and are buried, they grow naturally on the plot. Hmmm. We will enjoy ours in the garden for now, thank you very much. About a meter high, sun. Look for award winning Becky.
Scabiosa. Do not let the name fool you, this is a handsome perennial with blue or purple pompom flowers born on long 20 or 30 cm stems. We love it. Sun to part shade.
Zinnias. An annual flower that produces all summer through early fall. For the best cutting flowers choose the tall growing “cactus” flowering varieties. Sun, meter high or more.
Bee Balm. Monarda. Easy to grow perennial featuring red or magenta flowers that attract bees and other pollinating insects. Adds a light, sweet scent to a bouquet. A meter high, clumps that get bigger each year in the garden. Sun.
Nigella. Love-in-a-Mist or Devil-in-the-Bush (who comes up with this stuff?). Looks great in the flower garden, best grown from seed directly sown in the garden or container. Adds a blowsy effect. 50 cm, sun.
Yarrow. A winter hardy perennial that will produce for many years. Flat faced flowers in bright primary colours including red, yellow, and orange. Thrives in a dry location. Sun, 40 to 60 cm.
A tour around your favourite garden retailer this time of year, and one last browse through the seed racks, can produce some surprising results for your cutting garden.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and Member of the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at, @markcullengardening, and on Facebook.