Take a walk on the wild side –

Let your hair down garden ideas.

Nothing is more natural, or sustainable, than a wildflower meadow. As gardens go, it’s the road less traveled, but so unpretentious and relaxing. A little bohemiana that does its own thing from spring through fall.

This scene isn’t just about the plants though. Those blue chairs are huge part of the garden design. They’re like the statues in a traditional garden, but much more vibrant and avant-garde. While they aren’t quite shabby with that fresh coat of bright blue paint, those chairs are without a doubt chic. Beyond being sculptural attractions, the best spot to enjoy a meadow is in the middle of it, and they beckon the viewer to come have a seat amid the cacophony of blooms.

The best part about wildflowers is that you really don’t have to do any garden design, because seed mixes are designed to work in your region. No matter what area of the U.S. you live in both Corn Poppy and Bachelor Buttons will be included. Those are the tall red and tall blue flowers in the photo, and judging from the other wildflowers in residence here, this garden is in the Midwest.

There is one plant in the scene that is not part of any wildflower mix, and that’s the purple phlox. It does grow wild all over the Eastern United States and Canada. There are three forms though, and this particular one is Phlox carolina. Most likely the gardener seeded this in on top of the mix. Carolina Phlox loves full sun, while P. divartica, and P. stolonifera are both more woodland dwellers where they get more shade than sun.

Your job as a natural garden tender is to see to it that your meadow establishes itself nicely. Like any garden, the wildflower garden needs proper prep to keep weeds at bay initially, and provide an excellent germination space for the seed. You can’t just throw seed down and expect magic to happen. The young plants need nurturing to get established and take over the space.

All wildflower mixes contain annual, perennial, and biennial plants. The annuals only bloom the first season. You might get some soldiers that repeat, but to continue those you have to reseed for any kind of color guarantee. Work it for three to four years with devotion, and then you should have a wildflower meadow that can do a great deal of the work on it’s own.

Don’t ignore wildflowers growing in your area. Learn when it’s the right time to collect their seed, and gather some on your own. Also, don’t ignore the naturalizing possibilities of non-native seed. They aren’t all thugs.

Decades ago the man who drove the road grader in the rural county I live in bought sweet pea seeds in 50-pound sacks. As he went about his work, he scattered mixed color sweet peas in the ditches. They’ve been blooming for many years, and always something to look forward too crowning the weeds in the unmowed ditches. Actually those weeds serve a purpose to the sweet peas. They provide the shade they need for keep their roots cool and moist, and a ladder for them to climb out of the bottom of the ditch. Nothing like a sea of pink, white, along with the occasional purple flanking the sunny sides of every road you travel.

Not all garden ideas involve fancy plants. Sometimes simplicity is the most beautiful approach of all.