perennial cutting garden advice
Good morning and Happy Easter,
Thanks in advance for any advice offered by all you experienced and creative cut flower growers. This forum has been a true education for me, where so many of my questions can be answered with a quick search. The fact that you are so willing to share your expertise is invaluable.
I am in my second year of flower farming. I'm going to be up to about 3/4 of an acre this year. Inspired by Cathy in Iowa, I wanted to expand the "cut your own" portion of my gardens. Since the annuals are in rows on the far side of the barn, I want to have a cottage-style perennial cutting garden closer to the house. So, we plowed up a big portion, rototilled it, and built a variety of 12x3, 9x3, 6x3 amd 3x3 foot boxes (we used 12' long, 8" high lumber, and made the boxes easily divided). We then made a pattern and laid out the boxes. It is assymetrical, kind of to get people to wander, and room for some interesting garden bits. Since we constantly fight grasses, we've decided to forgo rock or mulch in the paths, and plant grass in the pathways. I've been moving dirt in between rainstorms (it gets HEAVY when wet!!), and am about half done, and have a variety of perennials arriving in the next two weeks.
Here's the question, after all that explanation. Should I put plants in according to color, or just put them in anywhere? How close can I plant them? I guess it makes sense to put the tall ones in the middle of all the boxes. Do I have to wait until after the chance of frost to plant, or can perennials go in next week (about 2 weeks ahead of traditional last frost? Any advice, suggestions, etc would be appreciated. We've put so much work into making boxes, preparing dirt, etc, I really don't want to be moving plants like crazy in the next couple years. Dividing and selling off, no problem :)
Here are the plants I have coming:
21 - 25 count of alchemilla mollis thriller, aquilegia clementine blue and red, baptisia purple smoke,leucanthemum highland white dream, phlox becky towe and blue boy, monarda raspberry wine, salvia may night and merleau blue, veronica spicata goodness grows, rudbeckis sunset, and 72 delphinium magic fountains and gallery mixed lupinus. I also have some established perennials to move in, some echinacea, liatris, lilies, heuchera, peonies and others.
I am trying to establish a place where a person can feel they can take their time, wander, enjoy cutting a bunch of flowers, and just enjoy their time. Eventually, there will be a fence and arbor at the entrance--probably next year's project! The annual beds are for serious cutting--they look very no nonsense with the straight rows, and that works for me. I also sell at farmer's markets, and to florists, so I want to have useful perennials, but more of a relaxing place.
Any advice given is appreciated. I hope this works!
(the other)Cathy (from Iowa)