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In an era of growing sensitivity to environmental challenges, wildflowers can play an important role in the garden.
Wildflowers have a bad reputation because they compete with the gardener’s chosen flowers. Often, wildflowers compete so well because they are better suited to the environment than the flowers purchased from a nursery. Does it really make sense to raise cardinal flowers in an arid climate? Does it make sense to plant azaleas in clay soil? Sure, it can be done, by wasting water and wasting money on soil amendments. But doesn’t it make more sense to work with Mother Nature?
There is no shortage of lovely indigenous wildflowers that can be assets in the garden. One man’s weed is another man’s cultivar. In the United States, for example, goldenrod is often dismissed as a junk plant, growing amidst the untended brush. But that North American native is highly regarded in Europe, where it often sells for stiff prices in nurseries.
When planning your next flower garden, consider including -- intentionally -- a few wildflowers. Consider coneflowers for sunny spots, wood asters and native ferns for heavy shade, California poppies for drought-prone, low-nutrient soil. To get ideas about what wildflowers will work in your area, simply be observant. If yarrow is thriving along roadsides in your neighborhood, the odds are that it will do well in your garden, too.
Think outside the box. And you may just spend more time appreciating your garden and less time struggling to keep it alive.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|