Get out there and snip away on herbs, vegetables, shrubs and branches as well as flowers, says Natural Gardener columnist Valerie Easton.

THE NEW cutting garden is your entire garden, from ground covers to tree branches and everything in between. And here’s the bonus: Planting with an eye toward bouquet-making will so perk up your garden. No more blob-like plants with stems too short for cutting. You’ll sharpen your eye for colors, combinations and scent. There’s nothing like bringing a sweet-smelling flower indoors where you can swoon over it 24/7 to make you a fragrant plant devotee.

There’s been lots of talk lately about cutting gardens being the new, new thing, but most of us don’t have space or time to cultivate a traditional, flower-filled one that looks good only a few months of the year. And there’s no need.

I got into gardening so I’d have the fresh flowers I craved for bouquets, and ever since, my gardening and flower arranging life have been pleasantly synchronistic. Each inspire and inform the other, to the crazy extent that I all too often dig up and rearrange plants to echo a color or textural combo I’ve noticed for the first time in the vase.

Please don’t worry about cutting from the garden. In fact, get out there and snip away on herbs, vegetables, shrubs and branches as well as flowers. Thoughtful cutting shapes plants while thinning to let in air and light. You’ll be surprised to find you can cut a nice, big bouquet and not even notice the plunder.

If you’re not already an organic gardener, you soon will be. Who wants to set a vase of anything but the cleanest flowers on the kitchen table? Most store-bought flowers have been doused in chemicals, grown in hothouses and shipped halfway around the world. Nothing is more local and “greener” than the plants you cultivate organically in your own garden. Thankfully, we have better environmental choices now with the Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market encouraging local flower farmers. Still, nothing beats stepping out your door in the morning to gather dew-fresh flowers you’ve grown yourself.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com.