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Cut-flower kaleidoscope Bring blooms indoors without butchering your landscape.

Byline: Jan Riggenbach Daily Herald correspondent

Old estates often boasted formal cut-flower gardens laid out in easy-to-pick rows, ensuring there would always be plenty of fresh blossoms for bouquets.

Few gardeners today have the luxury of that much garden space, but here's the good news: You can still enjoy long-lasting flowers and fillers indoors you have judiciously cut from many kinds of perennials and shrubs planted primarily to provide a beautiful landscape.

Old-fashioned perennials like garden phlox, coral bells, peonies, delphiniums, columbines and Siberian irises are all superb for cutting.

So are lilies, provided you remove the pollen-carrying stamens in the center of each blossom, so the pollen won't stain your tablecloth.

Less common but just as lovely for cutting are monkshood, globeflower, meadowrue, ligularia and red-hot poker.

Or make an eye-popping statement both in the landscape and in a vase with Armenian basket flower (Centaurea macrocephala). Perennial guru Allan Armitage says these big, bright yellow flowers are his favorite flowers for cutting because they last up to 10 days in water.

If you cover a chain-link fence with perennial pea (Lathyrus) to beautify the landscape, you can also cut all the blossoms you want for weeks on end. The flowers resemble those of annual sweet peas, but lack the sweet perfume. They are a lot more tolerant of hot Midwest summers, though, and just as good for bouquets.

A little prairie patch of native wild flowers not only provides food for butterflies, bees, and birds, but is also a great place to find long-lasting cut flowers. The bottlebrush-flowers of blazing stars (Liatris species) not only attract a parade of butterflies but are also a favorite of florists because of their ability to look great for an extra-long time in bouquets.

Goldenrods make showy bouquets. Thankfully, the old myth is finally dying that once wrongly blamed goldenrod for hay fever.

The prairie also provides coneflowers, penstemons, Helen's flowers, black-eyed Susans, asters, and blanket flowers for cutting.

Some perennials produce pods or berries that are outstanding in arrangements. The big black pods of blue false indigo and the shiny black berries of blackberry lily, for example, look as good in a vase as they do in the landscape.

If you have a shrubby willow such as blue arctic or Japanese dappled willow, these will provide fine fillers for your bouquets. Willows usually need frequent pruning anyway, so you can accomplish that task while also gathering some fillers for flower arrangements.

Flowering branches of forsythia, lilac, ninebark, quince, and hydrangea all make fine bouquets. Or enjoy the fruits of beautyberry and winterberry, indoors and out.

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Title Annotation:Home Garden
Author:Riggenbach, By Jan
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Apr 5, 2020
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