“Why plant flowers?” is a question I hear often. Over the years I have built a long list of reasons for how gardens and yards benefit from having a little flower garden. In fact, I wrote a whole book about it: Vegetables Love Flowers. But today I’m sharing a different reason to grow flowers: it’s because they make us feel better.
Now more than ever, we need a tension release and a little extra relief in our days. I’m not normally an anxious person, but even I have developed a little knot in my gut about the pandemic. Beyond the concern for my family, it’s the ever changing circumstances and disruption to everyday life that contributes to the difficulty for me as a creature of habit.
Thankfully, I have a pastime that my psyche instantly responds to without me even thinking about it: messing around in my garden. Sometimes, I just do a little garden gazing and other times some weeding or cutting. You know how one thing leads to another, right? First, my mind responds and then my body follows suit. I just fall in you might say. The effect? It’s like that boulder of anxiousness I’ve been carrying on my shoulders begins to roll right down my arms and then, plunk, anxiety is gone.
There are countless scientific facts explaining why being in a garden triggers good things to happen in our minds and bodies. I’m not going to attempt to explain those processes because it’s really the end result that I want us to think about: we simply feel better when we fuss over plants.
While I do grow a fairly sizable vegetable garden here and there are countless benefits from growing your own food—- it’s growing a little patch of flowers I want to focus on.
I find that most folks have never experienced the joy of growing a little patch of cut flowers. The power that is packed into a handful of homegrown flowers for your table or to share with a friend is nothing short of extraordinary. The benefits go on for days as that little handful of beauties continue to remind of time in a garden.
In addition to all the benefits of making you feel better, cut flowers are really easy to grow and maintain. From a 3-by-10 foot bed you will harvest a handful of beautiful fresh flowers each week. Planting cut-flower variety seeds or transplants and following a few ground rules will have you reaping abundance all summer and fall. It is hard to understand the feeling and to believe the abundance until you’ve lived with a cutting garden…
Another bonus, a cutting garden results in less work than a veggie garden, especially when it comes to the end result.
Let me tell you a little story:
When I married Steve some 24 years ago, he was a serious vegetable gardener. Living on his grandparents homestead, he had fallen right into his grandpa’s tradition of growing corn, beans, tomatoes and other vegetables for his extended family and for gifting friends. I eagerly joined in when we married.
We began to grow even more vegetables as I wanted to preserve the bounty like his mom and others were doing. The memories of being in our kitchen surrounded by a sea of 5 gallon buckets overflowing with tomatoes and corn waiting for me to process are still vivid. I loved doing it, but it was a lot of work!
In the meantime I had added a short row of zinnias in the vegetable garden. My first cut flowers ever. One day while working on canning tomatoes I took notice of those beautiful zinnias sitting on the counter in a vase just looking good, I smiled. And then it dawned on me, homegrown cut flowers offered instant gratification. They didn’t need to be canned, frozen, shucked, or cooked. Just dropped in a vase and let the show begin. Really.
Funny enough it was in the following weeks that I stumbled onto the book that changed the course of my life, The Flower Farmer by my now good friend Lynn Byczynski. I knew I had found my dream career.
A cutting garden can be so beneficial for you, your family, and friends. If you have memories of a labor intensive vegetable garden, put those thoughts aside and give a cutting garden a chance. I promise it will make you feel better in the process.
I have several resources to help you get started:
- Cut-Flower Seed Collection I’ve included my favorite cutting variety flowers for an abundant summer and fall harvest that includes the seeds, instructions, and diagram for a 3-by-10 foot cutting garden.
- The Easy Cut-Flower Garden online course is a 80 minute video from getting started to making a simple bouquet.
- Vegetables Love Flowers is my book that shares the benefits flowers have on a vegetable garden by growing a small cutting garden in the patch. Includes my organic gardening practices, features my top 20 cutting garden flowers, harvesting details, how to succession plant with seasonal diagrams, and more! Be sure to claim the free companion video Book Study here.
- Seed Starting Made Easy online course is a 90 minute video that teaches how to be successful planting seeds outdoors in the garden and indoors using soil blocking.
- My Field & Garden Blog of articles and videos on cut flower gardening.
Find the relief you need right outside your backdoor. I hope this helps you to find and embrace some joy.
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a cut-flower farmer, author, online course producer, and nationally recognized speaker on organic cut-flower farming and gardening.