Peonies are old-fashioned favorites that are long-lived, flowering for generations. Peony blossoms come in a variety of flower forms, like these semi-double blooms of pink ‘Paula Fay.’ A single peony makes a stunning bouquet; combine several stems, and you have a centerpiece fit for any gathering. Plant early, mid- and late season peonies, and you’ll be picking the blooms for 6 weeks. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 35 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for peony: lady’s mantle, clustered bellflower, catmint and hosta.
Pure white blooms of ‘Whirlwind’ Japanese anemone blend easily into any full sun to part shade spot in the garden. Blossoms open from late summer through fall. Each bloom measures 2 to 3 inches across and stands atop tall stems that make a great addition to fall bouquets. Anemone leaves appear in late spring, making them a perfect partner for spring bulbs because anemone leaves help hide dying bulb foliage. Look for varieties with pink blooms, too. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 36 to 48 inches tall by 24 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Edge planting beds with beautiful lady’s mantle. This is a go-to perennial for cottage or old-fashioned gardens. Leaves have a heavily felted texture that causes water to bead on the surface, even morning dew. Chartreuse flowers appear from late spring to early summer. They make the perfect filler for fresh garden bouquets and also dry well to use in dried flower arrangements. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 15 to 18 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. Good vase companions for lady’s mantle: peony, bearded iris, Oriental lily and clustered bellflower.
If you only grow one native plant, it should be purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). This classic beauty is well-known for its immune-boosting effects, but in gardening circles, it’s famous for its wildlife appeal. Pollinators of all sorts visit the flowers, and goldfinches flock to feast on hedgehog-like seedheads. The blooms make long-lasting additions to summer bouquets. Grows 24 to 60 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Look for new varieties that grow to shorter sizes and open flowers in a rainbow of colors.
Cater to all of your senses as you craft your retreat. By including fragrant flowers and herbs in the mix, you’ll discover the joy of breathing in rich floral aromas or spicy tones, which enhances the whole outdoor relaxation experience. Container gardens don’t have to be boring. Tuck plants into crates, baskets, buckets or your old garden boots. Plantings give you a chance to express your creativity and give your retreat a true signature style. This scented retreat includes two types of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Blue Spear and Avignon Early Blue. Other herbs that offer a nose-pleasing bouquet include mint, basil, rosemary and thyme. For fragrant flowers, try dame’s rocket (Hesperis), Oriental lily, moonflower vine, rose or daphne.
The huge rosettes of the aeoniums and the ruffly, aquamarine leaves of the Lady Aquarius echevaria make this succulent container look like a bouquet of aquatic flowers and coral, but foliage is the star of this show. Add a trailing vine like String of Pearls and a couple of mini jade plants, and you get a heat-tolerant container that looks downright aquatic. RECIPE: String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus, Zones 10-11); Echeveria ‘Flag Day’ (Zones 9-11); Echeveria ‘Lady Aquarius’ (Zones 9-11); Black Rose (Aeonium arboreum var. atropurpureum ‘Black Rose’, Zone 9); Elephant Bush (Portulacaria afra 'Green', Zones 10-11); Kalanchoe ‘Oak Leaf’ (Zones 9-11); Blushing Beauty (Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’, Zones 10-11); Large Leaf Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra forma macrophylla, Zones 10-11)
Summer long color is yours when you add ‘Amethyst Pearl’ phlox (Phlox carolina) to your garden. A butterfly favorite, ‘Amethyst Pearl’ opens pale lavender-pink blooms starting in early summer. The show continues until early fall, with blossoms beckoning butterflies, bees and other pollinator insects. If you like gathering garden bouquets, grow this phlox—its flowers look great in a vase. Note that while this beauty looks like old-fashioned garden phlox, it's actually a different species. Be sure to get Phlox carolina if you want a phlox for damp soil. Plants grow 18 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) is a buffet of color and activity in the garden, beckoning all kinds of pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees. This bloomer kicks off the flower show in midsummer, ultimately sending up multiple flowers from a single stem. It makes a great addition to a bouquet, lasting a week or more in a vase. Bee balm comes in a host of colors, including pink, lavender, purple and red shades. Choose varieties that have good powdery mildew resistance. Look for varieties from short to this average size ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm, which grows 36 to 48 inches tall by 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
To make this bouquet you'll need a large glass beer stein, a Collins glass, thin wood craft dowels, floral leaf ribbon and a selection of fresh fruits, veggies and flowers (listed in previous slide). Place the Collins glass inside the beer stein and fill the space between glasses with thin lime slices. With remaining limes and apples, remove produce stickers and insert the sharp end of the wood dowels at an angle into the bottom of the fruit. Line the Collins glass with leaf ribbon, fill with fresh water and arrange flowers and produce as desired. Tip: Cut stems at an angle and place immediately into water for long-lasting results.
Hosta offers a wonderful array of leaf colors and sizes that provide beautiful greenery for a bouquet. Or, take a page from modern design and showcase a vase of hosta leaves—in one hue or a mixed variety. Hosta leaves hold up well in a vase, outlasting many garden flowers. This variety, ‘Loyalist,’ offers leaves with white centers and green edges. Many hostas also unfurl vase-worthy flower spikes at some point in the summer. Hosta plants can be miniature or giant, growing anywhere from 6 inches to 60 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for hosta: purple coneflower, gas plant, rose, bearded iris and peony.
Take your yard to the dark side by adding a drift of ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera (Alternanthera dentata). This easy growing annual thrives in whatever weather summer throws at it—heat, humidity, thunderstorms or drought. Use ‘Purple Knight’ to deliver color to planting beds, or tuck it into a container design where it happily plays a thriller or filler role. If you like to gather garden bouquets, include this dark-leafed beauty in your plant palette. Stems make a pretty addition to a vase. Pinch plants when young to increase branching. Leaf color is darkest in full sun, but plants adapt well to part sun or part shade conditions. Plants grow 18 to 36 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide.
Go native with false indigo, a prairie plant that’s low maintenance and gorgeous. Pretty blue-purple flower spikes appear in late spring and make a great addition to a garden-fresh bouquet. Leaves have a blue-green tone that looks stunning in a vase—harvest stems all season long. Dried seedpods make a nice addition to fall arrangements. This is a tap-rooted perennial, which means it’s not easy to move once established. Plant it where you know it can stay put. False indigo offers different flower colors, including blends of blue, yellow, brown and white. The variety shown is ‘Blueberry Sundae.’ False indigo are deer-resistant plants that grow 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for false indigo: bearded iris, peony, clustered bellflower, purple coneflower and echibeckia.
Mint is a workhorse in the garden when it comes to giving insects the brush off. To release the strong mint oils in leaves, brush against plants or crush leaves and rub on skin or clothing. Try tucking lightly bruised leaves (still attached to stems) into pockets or bouquets on your porch or patio to confuse and repel mosquitoes. This minty beauty (foreground) is variegated pineapple mint, but you can also use any mint, including spearmint, lemon mint or peppermint. Mints spread aggressively in the garden. Always plant it in containers, even in beds, keeping the edge of pots elevated at least an inch above soil. When mint flowers, the blooms attract beneficial insects, including ones that sting, like wasps. If you don’t want these insects near seating areas, keep plants trimmed so blooms don’t form.
Cutting tools are vital to successful gardening. Start with the dynamic duo of hand pruners or shears and loppers. Hand pruners are the tool of choice for stems up to ¾ inches thick. It’s a go-to tool for deadheading or pruning perennials, trimming new growth on shrubs and snipping thick pepper and squash stems. With hand pruners and loppers, a bypass blade design (blades work like scissors) give you more cuts and versatility in the garden. Also invest in a sharpening tool of some type, along with lessons on use. Clean and sharpen cutting blades regularly to keep them in tiptop shape. Last but not least, pick up a good pair of sturdy scissors (bright handles are preferable—helps in not losing them in the yard). You’ll grab those for snipping twine, herbs, flowers for bouquets, greens and a host of other items.
Native perennial anise hyssop earns its keep in the garden by filling many roles. Offering beautiful cut flowers is just one of them. Known botanically as Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop is a strong pollinator plant, bringing bees, butterflies and many beneficial insects to the garden. Leaves can be used to flavor drinks with a hint of anise, and small purple petals offer a burst of licorice flavor. Flower spikes are sturdy and work in a bouquet with or without the actual tiny lavender blooms. They provide structure and a vertical accent in arrangements. Deer-and rabbit-resistant plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 18 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8. Good vase companions for anise hyssop: purple coneflower, echibeckia, hosta, gas plant and garden phlox.