A Cut-Flower Garden for the Community

Hey GPODers!

Today’s submission is one that gives you those warm-and-fuzzy feelings. It started with a message from Elizabeth on behalf of her friend, Sue:

Hello, Fine Gardening. My friend, Sue Carney, turned her yard into a lovely cut-flower garden three years ago. Last year she gave away 1,000 bouquets of flowers along with endless smiles of delight. For this season, I created and gave Sue a new whimsical flower house to reflect Sue’s kindness and love of giving.

Obviously, we couldn’t wait to hear and see more. Elizabeth got us in touch with Sue, and the story of this fabulous, cut-flower garden unfolded. Below you can see and read how a simple idea to share flowers turned into a space that connects the community and allows Sue to share her love for gardening with every friendly face that stops by.

Three years ago I enlarged my garden to replace my front yard so I could grow flowers to share with others.

colorful roadside stand for free fresh flower bouquets

I realized this wasn’t a new idea as I posted photos on Instagram and stumbled upon Steph Hankerson’s flower house, based on the free little library movement. Each day she put out flowers and a description of the contents of each bouquet.

A friend built a similar house for me, but this year when it needed to be replaced, artist Elizabeth Schoonmaker and her husband, John, volunteered. They picked up the flower house, stripped it to the frame, and designed and painted a new structure that reflected “my whimsical, interactive, garden installation.” Those were Beth’s words and her mission, and she executed it brilliantly. People have sent me messages about being able to see its new blue roof from a block away!

the gardener amongst her flowers, holding a bouquet of dahliasLast year I was able to give away 1,004 free bouquets to old and new friends.

view of flower garden through metal arbor Even after just a quick peek at Sue’s new gardens, you can see that it’s no wonder how she is able to create so many beautiful bouquets. Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta, Zones 3–8), purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–9), and spider flowers (Cleome hassleriana, Zones 3–8) are just some of the plants covered in pristine blooms.

large planting of purple larkspurAnother shot shows the absolutely impressive larkspurs (Consolida ajacis, annual) in Sue’s garden.

close up of spires of purple and pink flowersA close-up shot of the larkspurs reveal their many shades of pink and purple.

Last year people visited to walk through the garden, share stories about their lives, bring classes from school, and see the many varieties of plants from May until the end of October.

three bouquets of white, yellow, and pink flowersThis year I plan to give one night tour a week, and hopefully share 1,500 bouquets. If you are in the West Winfield area, stop by and I will give you a bouquet on the house.

And if you don’t have a chance to make a trip out to West Winfield, NY, make sure you follow Sue Carney on Instagram: @on.the.house.bouquets and @smcarn


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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