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by Ray Allen

Where to Plant Your Wildflower Garden?

country road
This is Rebel Circle, where Jack lives, it is longing for wildflower decoration as does the open pasture that lines the driveway...
Update September 2004: the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) did well here despite the deers' voracious appetite for them!
kitchen window
...but if you don't have a country road or or large open spaces, consider a wildflower garden of much smaller scale - like that patch outside the kitchen window!
Choose a Site
First, you'll need to choose a place for your wildflower area. If you're planting an entire field of several acres, the decision is easy. If you're putting in a smaller area, there are several things to consider. Wildflowers look best in a seminatural spot. Along a woodline at the back of your lot, for example, or in a freeform area against a fence, bordered in front by lawn or the patio. Some homeowners plant wildflowers between the driveway and property line, giving one complete part of the former lawn over to nature.

For all but our partial shade mixture, choose a sunny spot. For wildflowers, the sunnier the better. After all, think about the beautiful meadows you've seen in nature; they're always open and sunny. The only absolute requirement is good drainage. This means a place where water does not stand after a rain.

Speaking of moisture, it is good to have your wildflower area within easy reach of your garden hose. Of course, with large plantings, this may be impossible, but if you have a choice you'll appreciate having a water source nearby when you install your meadow and later on when things get very dry.

After wildflowers are up and growing, many people mow a charming, curving path through their meadow area, so everything can be observed "up close." Next, usually comes bird feeding stations, birdbaths, and perhaps a bench somewhere along the path at a favorite spot.

The Soil
Unless your soil is actually sterile, which is rare, we recommend that you use it as you find it. Wildflowers, as we see on every roadside, are extremely adaptable. Of course, if yours is heavy clay, you can till in sand to loosen it. If it is sandy, work in humus to make it more moisture retentive. But the test is simple. If anything is growing in the area, even if it's just grasses or weeds, the area should support wildflowers with the soil just as you found it. But if it's a problem area where nothing grows, find a new site. Wildflowers may be adaptable, but they're not magic. They won't grow on a sterile site any better than anything else.

» next page: How to Plant Your Wildflower Garden

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



 

4/13/2006


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