This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in July 2013.
I aspire to a garden that graces me with fresh blossoms from spring until fall. It’s this time of year in the Northeast when the plants really start to give back in mass, enabling any dining table, picnic table, nightstand — you name it — to host a beautiful fresh bouquet. Even wildflowers are plentiful.
There are easily dozens of blossoms you can source from the garden or from the florist, and they can set your summer scene and hold their own for weeks.
Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Lilies: Vibrant, bright, and plentiful. Like many of the plants listed here, all varieties of lilies reproduce like crazy through bulbs underground, and after a few years, your garden will be lush and plentiful. Their long stems are great for tall vases.
2. Hydrangeas: Wonderful, colorful poof balls — there are so many varieties of hydrangeas! For mophead or lacecap hydrangeas, color indicates soil chemistry. A blue bloom shows that the plant is taking up lots of aluminum and indicates acid soil. Acid soil makes the aluminum more available, while alkaline soil prohibits aluminum uptake. You can add garden sulfur to make your soil more acid or garden lime (including phosphorous) to make it more alkaline.Bonus fact: Towards the end of their cut life, allow cut hydrangeas to air dry. These blossoms stay wonderfully preserved in shape (though a little ivory or yellowed in hue) for years, acting as a beautiful long-stemmed dried flower decoration.
3. Marigolds: Plant this low-maintenance flower in the spring, and be granted more yellow and gold blossoms than you know what to do with come July. I trim ours specifically to use in bud vases, because they hold their shape and color for a long while. Word on the street is that they are more deer-resistant than other flowers (I have yet to test this myself). But beware the slugs! They love marigolds. (Want to establish your own collection of bud vases? Check out this post.)
4. Peonies: There’s a small window of time in which you can harvest and enjoy homegrown peonies (in New York, it falls naturally in mid June, depending on the weather). Pick them as they are just starting to open, and allow them to continue expanding their blossoms in a vase indoors. This same rule of thumb goes for buying them at the florist, which you can still do pretty readily into the summer months. A less mature bouquet will last longer than a perfectly blossomed arrangement.
5. Roses: Our plants used to explode outwards 5 feet in all directions every summer, so I never felt bad about trimming them back to enjoy a few stems indoors while they were blossoming. Aromatic or not, they’re classic and a beautiful, often colorful addition to your table.
6. Lavender: Beautiful in mass, lavender is also beautiful trimmed and indoors. Like hydrangeas, consider drying your trimmings at the end of their season and using them for a longer term purpose, like for creating scented sachets for your closet or drawers. Check out these varieties of lavender that are great for your home garden.
7. Cosmos: When established, these bright flowers are great for trimming.
8. Angelica: The fireworks of the flower world. At least, I’ve always thought so. They look really great in a tall vase!
9. Snapdragons: I find that they hold their blossoms for longer than other flowers, and they’re always so colorful too. My parents had an assortment of snapdragon colors when I was growing up, ranging from neon yellow to dark fuchsia.
10. Daisies: Whether sourced from where they grow in the wild or from your own garden, daisies are among the most classic of the summertime flowers. They always look happy, and they always show well in a vase indoors.