Garden Bouquets!

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The best part of having a large garden is planting lots of flowers for cutting. Thanks to the mild winter and prolonged spring conditions, the garden has put out more flowers this year than I’ve ever seen. In fact, there are a few that we’ve never seen bloom before — or at least never noticed due to their low performance — the maple tree has tons of little helicopter seed clusters and the honeysuckle is covered in buds that I can’t wait to use for a desktop bouquet.

I tend to mark cutting garden season as starting with lilies of the valley. We don’t have a patch of these (though I’m putting down some pips this year so hopefully we’ll have the beginnings of a colony by next year) but there is a huge one behind our old apartment building that I still try to visit every year around this time. Their bloom time is short and tends to start later here in Finland than elsewhere, so I start checking on them weekly in the middle of May to make sure I don’t miss them. They only last for a short time but having that fragrance around for a few weeks is worth the effort.

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Not long after that, the lilacs start to bloom. Ours have been a bit fickle the past few years because they need to be pruned in a certain way and at a certain time for maximal performance. Do it wrong and you might not see flowers for a few years. Our lilac bushes are level with our second story windows at this point and could use a bit of a trim, but I suspect that the lackluster flowering we’ve seen from them these past few years might have come from earlier attempts to prune them back. They have flowered very generously this year, though, so I’m going to just prune lightly and get it into shape progressively over the next few years rather than traumatize it with too much hacking at once. Cutting the flowers counts towards that, so it’s a double bonus of cleaning up the plant and getting bouquets at the same time. I’m try to keep a vase full of these in almost every room while they are available, so that the entire house is filled with their scent. It just makes the day so much nicer when you get random wafts of perfume as you’re walking around doing chores.

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Here’s a mixed vase (not yet arranged, as you can see) snipped while out walking with the baby yesterday morning. Pink and purple lupines, white lilacs, dark purple columbines and rose-colored peonies. A completely different mix from the arrangements I used to make back in Cali, but just as pretty. All the more so when you consider that these all came from self-seeded wildflowers or long-established perennials. Looking forward to many more pictures in the coming months!

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