You don’t have to have a Martha Stewart style cutting garden to put fresh flowers on the table throughout the season. Here are my top tips for spring backyard flower arranging, green thumb not required.
backyard flower arranging is easy ~ and free!
Fresh flowers make a huge difference to any table, but they can be expensive. I’m here to tell you that you can skip the florist and the PhD in flower arranging. Backyard blooms have a sweet, casual look that brightens up a table just as well as store-bought bouquets. I love the look of mixed flowers from the yard with a few leafy bits thrown in for good measure, all plopped into a mason jar filled with fresh clear water.
ten top flower picks for a backyard cutting garden
When it comes to cut flowers, local and seasonal is best, and you can’t get any more local or seasonal than your own backyard!
- echinacea (coneflower)
- black-eyed Susan
- queen Ann’s lace
Mixed wildflowers are also stunning and easy to grow with these seedballs!
rule # 1 of flower arranging ~ there are no rules!
Use whatever you’ve got, and whatever appeals to you. I’ve put together some of my top tips for making the most of what you’ve got ~ from that mysterious shrub in your front yard, to clippings from the herb garden, twigs, and even weeds like dandelions… nothing’s off limits!
studies show that having flowers around the house can have positive mental health benefits.
Flowers can help ease anxiety, lower blood pressure, and lift your mood. The very act of gathering and arranging plants and flowers is calming. So even when you’re not expecting company, set out some fresh blooms just for you.
The Farmers Almanac suggests cutting flowers in the morning or evening, avoiding the heat of the day. Heat stressed flowers will wilt sooner. Also select flowers that are just beginning to bloom, they’ll last longer, too.
Greens are key in flower arranging, and even though you may not have a cutting garden in your backyard, odds are you’ve got greens. Leaves come in all sorts of beautiful shapes and textures, so augment a few blooms with plenty of fresh greenery. Don’t overlook trees, shrubs, or ferns for great green accents.
For the type of arrangement below, use a wide shallow urn style vase, and fit it with a flower frog. A flower frog is a small disk with lots of sharp pins sticking up that keep your flowers, leaves, and branches exactly where you place them. It makes flower arranging lots of fun!
raid the herb or veggie patch
Many of the veggies you might have in your garden make great additions to floral arrangements. Think about including curly kale, wispy fennel fronds, dill flowers, chive blossoms, bay leaves and more! Berries, both edible and inedible, look beautiful in arrangements. I love to use the herbs from my just-outside-the-back-door ‘kitchen garden’.
Garden fresh asparagus bundled around a simple vase of flowers makes a fresh statement.
Mason jars are a classics, of course, for casual flower arranging, but you probably have a lot of other containers lying around just waiting to become part of your next centerpiece. Teacups, glass milk bottles, and vintage look bottles like these and these are perfect. Recycled jars also make adorable vases, and I love to use regular drinking glasses as well, like these simple French bistro glasses at Williams Sonoma. I have them in almost every size, they’re indestructible. For the ultimate in sustainable arrangements, check out these eggshell bud vases.
Tip: When you use your table glassware as your flower ‘vases’ you’ve got instant design coordination!
In spring, branches from flowering shrubs and trees like forsythia, witch hazel, cherry, or apple, are beautiful when cut and brought indoors.
Cut small branches from your shrubs when the buds are formed and close to blooming, or have already started to bloom. Make sure you use good sharp pruners and keep your cuts close the base of the stem or branch that you are cutting off. Don’t rip or tear the branches or you’ll damage the plant.
Bring your branches inside and place immediately in water. Some people recommend cutting a slit at the base of your stem/branch and gently smashing it with a hammer. This opens up the wood a bit more and allows the branch to absorb more water, helping to keep it fresh. Change your water every few days to prevent bacteria build up.
think in multiples
Sometimes more is better, especially when it comes to jars and vintage bottles. Group several and use them to display single stems. The effect is equally charming on a large or tiny scale.
Old wooden crates, either recycled or bought, are a great way to corral a large display.
In many parts of the country, perennials like hydrangeas, lilacs, and forsythias are common yard plants. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these beauties in your yard, take advantage of their big, spectacular blooms and showcase them simply on their own.
Think about using a pickling crock, an old jug, or large pitcher as your container.
Don’t overlook the most diminutive blooms in your yard. Pansies are some of my favorites because they come in so many different color combinations. Violets, snowdrops, and buttercups, too! This company provides instructions and seeds for growing pansies with especially long sturdy stems for cutting.
I love to recycle glass yogurt jars as vases for the smallest flowers. Group them together or set one by each place setting for a spring brunch.
Pinterest is an amazing source of inspiration for simple backyard and wildflower arrangements. A lot of beautiful ideas come from rustic weddings that you can adapt for everyday home use. Fair warning ~ looking at beautiful flowers on Pinterest can be a little bit like online shoe shopping, you could get lost for days 🙂
Visit your local nursery or home center. Look for potted flowering plants that you can pop right into a cute container, or cut them and arrange them yourself. Bunches of cut flowers from the supermarket (think Trader Joe’s) can be cheap and colorful, in fact Trader Joe’s flower arranging is a thing, google it. Imagine what you could do with their peony tulips!
Take note: in many states it’s illegal to pick wildflowers, flowers by the roadside, or anything on federal lands. It’s considered a misdemeanor to pick wildflowers in California, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Colorado and you could be fined.
Check online for pick-your-own-flower farms near you!
Questions and Reviews
Hi Sue! So glad to see you have ‘branched’ out! I think cooking and gardening naturally go together. At least for me it does. Thanks for all the inspiration!
Is it mothers day there too? Oh happy mothers day to you too Sue! We ended up having a great day out with the grandson and think I found myself a car to replace the one that got drowned somewhat.
Hi Sue, I was linked here from Where Women Create. How fun for you. Now you need to get in their Cook or Create issue. Way to go girl. You’re doing amazing!!!
Hey cool, I didn’t know that, I’m off to see, thanks Vicki!
Arghh.. now I want my yard back! We got flooded in February so not living there for a while. We at least had a couple of flowers like the Birds-of-paradise. I like those a lot. It’s mothers day here in Australia Sunday. I think I’ll buy myself some flowers since my boys are rather slack at that sort of thing 🙂 Great write up Sue.
Oh I’m so sorry to hear that Sue, it seems like climate issues are raging lately. I hope you get back soon. I used to have Birds of Paradise in one of the houses I’ve lived in, they’re so special. Happy Mother’s Day <3 (We moms sometimes have to do for ourselves!)
And as the old saying goes… “a house without flowers, is a home without a woman”…
lol, most of the great gardeners I know are men!