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Publication: Garden Guides
Grow Fields of Wildflowers

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                   GardenGuides Newsletter 
                     September 12, 2006

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Family gardening tips (from Cynthia Davis Klemmer, the 
Children's Education Coordinator at the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society):

* Start small. Window boxes or containers, because of their 
small size, can actually turn out to be rather luxurious 
gardens. Recycle clean bleach and milk containers. Cut off 
the tops and use them as planters.

* Be willing to put up with a less-than-perfect looking 
garden: crooked rows and weeds are okay.

* Leave an area where kids can dig, even after planting. 
This is often their favorite part of gardening. Look for 
earthworms together!

* Get some child-sized tools from a local nursery or garden 
center. Try to find tools that look genuine so the kids will 
feel like real gardeners. Can't afford it? Plastic spoons 
and shovels work well in window boxes.

* Make a secret place in the garden for your kids. Leave a 
space between the stalks of easy-to-grow sunflowers or bean 
poles so they can crawl "inside." Make a chicken wire animal 
and train ivy around: instant topiary!

* Kids like extremes, so plant huge flowers, like sunflowers, 
and small vegetable plants, like cherry tomatoes. Plant 
fragrant flowers or herbs like peonies, lavender, and 
chocolate or pineapple mint. Show your kids how to rub the 
herbs between their fingers to get a really good whiff. 

* Teach your kids how to compost. Find a place behind a tree, 
or dig a hole in the ground. Don't add anything that ever 
swam, walked, or flew. Toss in rinds and peels from fruit, 
coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells. When it turns black and 
crumbly (this will take several months) you can mix it with 
soil and use this for fertilizer for your garden. Don't 
forget to put your gloves on first.

* Look in the children's section of your library or book-
store for both gardening how-to books and storybooks. Ready, 
Set, Grow! A Guide to Gardening, by Suzanne Frutig Bales, 
teaches youngsters about specific plants. Kids Garden! by 
Avery Hart and Paul Mantell includes information on "sowing 
and growing" as well as activities for kids ages 4 and up.

* If you're interested in more organized children's programs, 
check with local parks departments or public gardens to see 
what they offer.
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Grow Fields of Wildflowers!
By Rachel Webb Copyright

If you like the charm of a natural flowering meadow with a 
mismatch of blooms, you should try growing your own wild-
flower garden. 

Wildflower seeds are widely available at most all nursery or 
garden centers but you will want to choose packets that have 
flowers that are grouped according to the area or zone that
you live in for the best results. 

As with any kind of gardening, soil preparation is one of 
the most important steps to successful flowers. Without a 
good soil base, the roots will not be able to find nutrients 
to insure a healthy plant. 

You will want to remove any existing vegetation and weeds by 
breaking up the soil and adding organic materials that are 
rich in oxygen. You are trying to create an airy soil that 
can drain well also. Compacted soil has few air and water 
pores. Ideally you want your soil to drain the water in 10 
to 30 minutes. Less than 10 minutes means that your soil 
will dry out to quickly. Over 30 minutes of drainage time 
means that you will have to water slowly to avoid runoff. 
Wildflowers will not require a perfect soil combination but 
you should strive for the best soil conditions you can. 


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Creating a Wildflower Meadow

Regardless of the size of your property, wildflowers can 
enhance its beauty and add to your enjoyment. This booklet 
describes how to grow meadow wildflowers that can fill any 
size yard with a seasonal procession of colors. Learn to 
plan, prepare, select the proper seeds, and maintain your 
meadow with this informative booklet.

You can make your own wildflower mix by gathering seeds from 
plants that you know are native to your area or region. Take 
into consideration where you will be planting the seeds and 
determine if it will be a shady or sunny location as well. 
You will want to try and choose wildflower seeds that are 
the best suited for your particular use. 

Generally speaking, 1/4 pound of wildflower seed will cover 
1,000 square feet of space. Reduce the square footage 
coverage if you prefer a thick coverage of flowers. Lightly 
scatter your seeds by hand on the prepared soil. If the 
seeds are to small to handle easily you can mix them with 
sand to aid in sowing. Mix one part seed to four parts clean 
sand. You can lightly rake the seeds into the soil when you 
are finished. If you are expecting heavy winds you may want 
to cover the area with straw to keep it moist to protect 
the seeds from blowing away. 

I suggest that you purchase extra seed so that you can 
lightly re-seed each year. Wildflowers are often a mixture 
of annuals and perennials and so many of the flowers should 
come back each year. Re-seeding lightly can help keep the 
flowers at their best. 

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You will need to do some weeding of course. At first it may 
be difficult to distinguish the wildflowers from the flower 
seeds but the weeds will tend to grow the fastest and will 
try to choke out other plantings. 

To aid in the natural seeding process, leave your dead wild-
flowers alone at the end of the season until the mature 
blossom has gone to seed. Then you can mow down the dying 
crop to help scatter the new seeds and keep your garden 
looking neat and tidy. 

If you live in a dry climate, the best time to plant is when 
you are expecting a rainy season. The rain will assist you 
in watering wildflowers that you may be planting in a area 
without a sprinkling system installed. In cold Winter 
climates you will need to plan on planting in the Spring or 
early Summer to avoid frost. Ideally, the rainwater will 
sprout your seeds and make your gardening job much easier 
but if not, you may need to hand water daily until the seeds 
are up and growing strong. 

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