Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wildflower Blitz

The last two years in North Carolina we’ve been living in drought conditions. We seem to be coming out of it, but only time will tell. So, given that I do not particularly enjoy driving the mower around the yard all the time anyway, two years ago I took drastic action.

The grass was dying…the good grass anyway. I had plenty of weedy stuff growing. I decided to take about a third of an acre (our yard, front and back, is an acre) out of grass. So now all around the border of the yard and dead center in the front, I mulched.

And then came the wildflowers. I bought over thirty pounds of seed, most of which are highly drought resistant. Liberally sprinkling same, I waited. Ok, I did water a little just to get them germinated. First summer, not much happened because I did start late.

Above is a Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata) a perennial.

Ah, but last summer! WOW! Things took off. I have about 45 varieties of wildflower out there now. Don’t need to bother with them much either. When the neighbors are all complaining about things dying, my wildflowers are blooming furiously.

My father-in-law hasn’t yet grasped the drought thing. He keeps buying traditional water-guzzlers. Unfortunately, since the in-laws live with us, that is cause for some conflict. Where I’ve gone to nematodes to combat grubs rather than chemicals, he still wants to poison everything. We finally had to ban him from all but the small section of yard near their entrance and along a small section of fence in the back yard.

The Blue Flax (Linum perenne lewisii) another perennial, are already in bloom.

At any rate, wildflowers are great! An added benefit is the variety of birds and butterflies they attract. My next-door neighbor complained last year that the gold finches were ignoring his finch feeder…they preferred my front yard. We had more butterflies last summer than at any time in the last twelve years.

This year we are looking forward to the perennial wildflowers taking off. They don’t usually flower the first year. Some are already in bloom. We also liberally spread the seeds from last year’s annuals and already they are popping up.

We could never get anything to grow along this small strip by the driveway.
Note the sunflowers towering over the fence.

This is in front where we got rid of over half the lawn.

The Johnny Jump-ups (Viola cornuta) are in bloom for the first time this year.
They spread like violets, which could be bad or good.

This year, we are working on seeding the wooded section at our back fence with woodland flowers. As things get more established we will start "shaping" to make the layout more presentable. If I could swing it, there would not be much grass out there at all.

But I suppose the doggies still need room to romp and poop.

Quick note...all the flower pictures above with the exception of the Blue Flax and Johnny Jump-up (which were taken today), were taken in August when drought conditions were severe. We were on the fourth flowering cycle by that time. The yard goes through first primarily yellow and orange, followed by pinks, blues and reds, followed by yellows and oranges again.


The Muse said...

Your yard is beautiful! We have almost an acre also that is covered in the natural hill country grass that grows here--weeds--and rocks. We grow rocks here in Texas.

I think I'm going to try some of what you've done in a couple of places. I'm sick of what we've got and mowing.

J. L. Krueger said...


You might want to look at this web site: American Meadows. It is a great source of wildflowers and information about wildflowers.

Typically the instructions on the seeds read: Look at the ground where you want to plant. Is anything growning there? The wildflowers will do fine.

They have selections of seeds specific for every region of the country.

I can imagine a good looking clump of rocks with Texas Bluebonnets popping up in between.

Honestly, very little work involved.

Ello said...

Wow your yard is just lovely! Can you give me some gardening hints? Like what can i plant that will actually grow? I have a terrible habit of killing all plants.

J. L. Krueger said...


Actually, I'm a lousy gardner. I must select things that require little to no maintenance, drought or no drought.

Wildflowers do that for me. The other thing I've done "well" at is trees. My yard started with four maple trees twelve years ago. The seeds from those have resulted in seven more mature trees. My backyard is turning into a mini-woodland.

My neighbors on all sides have taken about four trees each so that now our section of the neighborhood is very shaded in the summer.