How a Floral Designer Chooses Flowers for Her Cutting Garden
After many years running a successful floral design studio, Alicia Schwede decided to take her business in a slightly different direction. She wanted to combine her work experience and creative talents, with her passion for teaching and flair for social media. Her website, FlirtyFleurs.com, is now a hub for other floral designers, specialty cut flower growers and anyone who loves cut flowers.
When we learned that Alicia is also an avid flower gardener, we asked if she would be interested in working with Longfield Gardens. In addition to helping us understand flower colors, styles and trends, we looked forward to talking about planting, staking and deadheading; which types of flowers are the most productive, have the longest stems or are the most useful in arrangements.
Last spring, we invited Alicia to peruse our website and select varieties that she would like to grow in her cutting garden. Now we are pleased to introduce two exclusive collections, based on arrangements Alicia made using plants from Longfield Gardens. Impressed with the results, we asked her how she selected the varieties and what she likes about the ones she grew. Here’s what she had to say:
Verona Flirty Fleurs Dahlia Collection
Labyrinth was the dahlia that had originally caught my eye and I just had to create an arrangement around it. That peach-pink color had me entranced from day one. Café Au Lait, with its similar size and shape, was a perfect fit, and its lighter coloring would complement Labyrinth just right.
HS Date had my curiosity. I had never grown a single petal dahlia and had only seen them online, so wanted to see how they looked in person. I found HS Date to be a prolific bloomer that kept giving all summer long! Being able to grow this variety in my own cutting garden was important, as it can be delicate and is probably not one I’d be able to source from another flower farmer.
Of note, HS Date also attracts a lot of bees – a good thing, of course! When I wanted some stems for arrangements I would clip them in the early morning or late evening after the bees had gone home.
As for how the plants grew in the cutting garden, I did not stake Labyrinth or HS Date. Both plants were very strong and steady. Café Au Lait grows into a very tall plant with very heavy blooms and I find this variety does need to be staked.
In the arrangement, I complemented the dahlias with mint and honeysuckle. Dahlias don’t offer much in the scent arena, yet I looked at this bright arrangement and felt like it needed scent to bring it home – mint and honeysuckle were perfect for the job! Plus, the color of the honeysuckle flowers are in exactly the same color palette.”
Dolcetto Flirty Fleurs Dahlia Collection
Tartan – WOW! This flower is so striking and I absolutely adored it in the garden. The blooms came steadily, were long lasting, and they are large in size! Each bloom would be slightly different, with some having more white petals and some more burgundy. I quite liked this look! The plant was sturdy and strong and I did not need to stake it.
Edge of Joy is a smaller plant and could easily be grown in front of the other two. It’s a prolific bloomer that can use deadheading on almost a daily basis. The more I deadheaded the more it bloomed! This plant also attracted a ton of bees. Thankfully I had planted it next to HS Date so that part of the dahlia patch was a-buzz with bees! (I avoided the area during daylight hours – ha! Let those bees do their work uninterrupted.)
Acidanthera is a very interesting flower. I imagine it’s overlooked by many gardeners, yet, I would suggest anyone who likes a flower with a touch of burgundy would enjoy growing acidanthera. I love this flower and plan to have it in my garden every year from now on. The upright foliage adds height to the garden, and the blossoms add lightness as they flutter about in the breeze. The flowers also smell absolutely amazing. As friends walked through the garden they would ask, what smells so good? It’s the acidanthera, I would reply. Yes, this little flower adds so much.
Dusty miller and ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas, freshly clipped from the garden, added just the right texture and contrasting color to finish off this Dolcetto design.”
How to Get the Look
If you are inspired by these beautiful arrangements, here’s where to find the Verona and Dolcetto collections. Our collections often sell out early. If that happens, you can usually purchase most of the varieties separately and make a substitution for the one that’s out of stock.
To learn more about growing dahlias, you may want to read 8 Tips for Growing Better Dahlias. Visit Alicia’s website (flirtyfleurs.com) for links to her blog, classes, magazine and social media accounts. Happy gardening!