Making up May Day bouquets to slip into construction paper cones decorated with doilies and other embellishments is one of my favorite childhood memories. There were relatives and neighbors who would discover the surprise of answering their doorbell to find an empty doorsill and the gift of a colorful cone of flowers hanging on the doorknob.

Such anticipation, and such fun it was ringing the bell and then scrambling away to avoid being discovered. It is a custom that could be welcome any day, not just on May 1. That’s what makes growing (and sharing) flowers such a joy, and establishing a cutting garden makes that even easier. These days, as we sort seeds or select six-packs, a cutting garden would be worth adding to our planting plans.

Not only can you fill your home with flowers, but you can share them as well with a cutting garden as part of your summer gardening. Most garden beds rely on seasonal blooms; however, often we don’t want to spoil the looks of those gardens by cutting them. But a cutting garden is grown for that very purpose. Plan now, plant and then enjoy the harvests.

Locating a cutting flower bed

When planning, remember this is a cutting garden. That’s why the best possible solution is to create a specially designated cutting flower bed. This new garden bed, if possible, should be in a sunny location that is towards the back of your garden. Put it in a location where you won’t mind picking the flowers, one that won’t be disturbed if you decide to make a design or fill a vase for yourself or a friend.

Short on room for an additional bed? Try planting large containers in a sunny location that you can pluck a flower or two from easily.

Planning for the types of flowers

Cut flowers come in a number of choices and forms and cutting gardens depend heavily on annual choices. A cutting garden can be planted from a few packs of seeds, but be sure to include not only annuals, but perennials, roses, peonies, grasses, ferns, shrubs and bulbs, too. Each will be a designer touch for any bouquet. Don’t forget colorful foliage like the big leaves of hostas or coleus. Include large, solitary blooms like sunflowers, zinnias, coneflowers or dahlias, or choose a multitude of smaller flowers, such as cosmos,small  zinnias, salvias, larkspur, pinks, asters or marigolds, for example. Annuals actually prefer to be cut and regular cutting and deadheading of faded flowers will help prolong bloom time.

Cut flowers early in the day, after the dew has dried but before the heat of the sun hits them. Keep a container of lukewarm water handy as you cut and snip, slipping the stems into the water as soon as possible. Some stems tend to close up quickly and prevent water from entering, wilting the blooms. Likewise, to keep bouquets lasting longer, change water daily in containers and snip a short bit of the stems off, quickly plunging them back into the container to enable them to take up fresh water.

To prolong cut roses, I like to slip the vase into the refrigerator at night, cut stems a bit each day, and often mist the blooms daily.

And there’s another thing about a garden filled with flowers — you will create a banquet for pollinators. According to Proven Winners, “Planting for pollinators has become mainstream, as people are understanding how important it is to help sustain their populations. All-season blooming annuals play an important role in pollinator gardens.”

If starting seeds is not in your plans, then look for Proven Winners plants like Lady Godiva orange calendula, Campfire Fireburst bidens and Karalee Petite Pink gaura for non-stop blooms to cut, and pollinators, too.