As you plan your summer gardens, consider adding flowers you can preserve or use in arrangements. The pleasure of growing flowers in a garden is only a portion of gardening enjoyment. Flowers and foliage that is gathered from the garden and preserved or arranged can reward you in many other ways.
Cutting gardens include flowers that cut well and are long-lasting. Sturdy stems and long-lasting qualities make many plants good choices for cutting flowers. Floral arrangements make superb gifts and are a wonderful way to bring your garden into your home. Flowers that make good cut flowers include yarrow, zinnia, snapdragon, sunflower, and cosmos just to name a few. Many seed companies offer premixed cutting garden seeds.
You can also preserve flowers and foliage for many years by including them in wreaths, arrangements, potpourri, and gifts. Preservation methods include hanging, pressing or using various drying agents.
Hanging or air-drying is the easiest and best method for preserving most flowers. If you have a garden, you have the beginnings for dried plant material. Many annuals, perennials, grasses, and foliage can be preserved easily at home. Dried flowers can add an expensive-looking decorating touch to your home at almost no cost. Flowers that air-dry well are Strawflowers, golden rod, hydrangea, celosia, Queen Anne's lace, statice, baby's breath, globe amaranth, salvia, yarrow and ornamental grasses such as bamboo, cat-tail, oats, sorghum, timothy, and millet.
Pressing flowers is another easy method; however, it distorts the contour and flattens flowers. The advantage of pressed flowers is that they can be easily mounted and framed. Use these flowers for pressing: Asters, bleeding heart, buttercups, chrysanthemums, columbine, cosmos, dahlia, dogwood, English daisy, geranium, larkspur, lily of the valley, marigold, pansies, poppies, sweet peas, violets, and zinnia. Avoid heavy, fleshy flowers such as hybrid tea roses.
To learn more about preserving flowers, join University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, Alicia Kallal, to learn several techniques you can use at home to preserve flowers and foliage for long-term enjoyment.
The program is presented live for live home viewing on May 15 at 1:30 p.m. and again on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. Following the session, a taped version is available on YouTube. Registration and YouTube information are found at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/4seasons.
The beauty of a flower in bloom is a fleeting pleasure. To extend their beauty, consider adding flowers to your garden this year that preserve easily.