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by Ray Allen

Intro - What's a Wildflower Garden?

a bouquet of wildflowers
Wildflower gardens are inexpensive, low maintenance and produce big bunches of beautiful blooms all season long!
Wildflower Gardens Grow Popular!
The National Gardening Association's annual survey tells us that more and more homeowners are creating wildflower gardens than ever before. That makes sense! With less time, a growing interest in natural things and more people landscaping new homes it's apparent that wildflower gardening works.

Why Everyone Likes Wildflowers
Some say that women love wildflowers for the obvious reason, their beauty. Men appreciate that too. But the guys also tell me they like wildflower landscaping because it cuts down on mowing, and as one man said, "I like wildflowers because they're independent, they're self-sufficient and get by on their own." Kids love wildflowers and meadows because they're fun and pretty and alive with the adventures of buzzing bees and brilliant butterflies.

Even our state governments have come to appreciate wildflowers. Thanks to the efforts of state agencies, motorists now marvel at spectacular strips of wildflower color planted along our highways. Of course there are many other good reasons for wildflowers, not the least of which is that they reduce costly roadside mowing which saves energy, labor and tax dollars - a great investment and everyone wins!

Our Wildflower Objective: Recreating Nature
When people speak of "a wildflower garden" or "a wildflower meadow garden", they usually have a vision of what they've seen in nature in mind.

And that's the whole idea of creating a wildflower garden. Commercial wildflower seed mixtures were formulated to enable the gardener to duplicate nature's floral displays by providing combinations of species to ensure continuous color and interest throughout the season and into the next.

A wildflower garden is more than just a casually cast quantity of seeds. It is an effort to create a permanent, yet evolving, naturalistic display.

The Easy-Care Factor
Wildflower gardening is not no-maintenance, but it is definitely low maintenance (and of course, much less expensive than putting in plants.) A wildflower garden is also somewhat easier to prepare for planting than a perennial or vegetable garden. All that is really required is that existing growth be removed. Grading and leveling is unnecessary and rocks and large roots can remain in place to be eventually engulfed in an exuberant mass of wildflowers!

Wildflowers are happy in almost any soil so addition of amendments and fertilizer is not necessary (avoid poorly drained, boggy soils though). Possibly the most endearing trait of wildflowers is that once the seed is planted, you're done! You don't mow or weed and you often don't even have to water!

Before we get into the when, where and how of wildflower gardening here are some definitions to consider:

A plant with attractive bloom that survives on its own in the wild without human intervention. A wildflower may or may not be native to the area in which it is growing.
wildflower garden
A naturalistic looking patch of flowers anywhere you want it. Most wildflower gardens are planted in any and all those rather informal places where an easy-care wildflower garden makes sense : borders, freeform beds along treelines, vacant lots, roadsides, utility easements, that steep hilly patch behind the garage, etc.

» next page: When to Plant Your Wildflower Garden

Ray Allen 11/18/02; updated 10/18/03, 2/18/04, 9/19/04, 4/15/05


© LC
Tallahassee, Florida USA