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Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflowers for an April wedding in Baltimore

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Friday - December 11, 2009

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Wildflowers for an April wedding in Baltimore
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Dear Mr Smarty Pants, Thank you for your help. Our niece wants native wildflowers blooming at her wedding on April 17, 2010 which will be at a family home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland between Baltimore Maryland and Washington DC. We want to buy seeds from you but don't know which flowers are likely to bloom in the first spring after being planted (as soon as possible!). Could you please help us decide what to plant and if there are any ways to promote bloom this coming April? Thank you very much. We want to help her make this event as special as she and her fiancee are!

ANSWER:

Even thought I am a funny lookng little green guy, I do have nieces, so I understand your motivation to do something special for your niece.  Unfortunately, the only way you can have wildflowers at your family home on the Eastern Shore in April is if you have an orangerie where you can grow them in pots. Not a problem if your family is the Dupont family! The only native plants that are blooming in the northeast in April are the early flowering trees and the ephemeral woodland plants. These are usually bulbs that are adapted to a life cycle where they put up their leaves and flowers before the woodland canopy leafs out robbing them of the sunlight they require to store enough food in their bulbs to live another year.  Once their job is done, they go dormant until the following spring.

The wildflowers that have made Texas famous are in full bloom in mid-April (we do host some picture-perfect weddings at the Wildflower Center) and some of them are native to Maryland as well, but they bloom in summer there. So there is no way the wildflowers your niece has in mind will be blooming in the garden for her wedding.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, propagation and protection of native plants native and landscapes. Because we are situated in Texas we showcase native Texas plants but sell them only twice a year locally in our fundraising efforts.  We also sell some Texas native seeds in the gift store at certain times of year.

That being said, I'm sure you have been to the Phialdalephia Flower Show and you have seen what can be done in an artifical environment. So, if you have the space to grow some seedlings during the winter you might be able to create a couple of big planters of flowers for your niece's wedding. I would think that the best strategy is to seed out the selected flowers in flats so that just before the wedding you can arrange them in the planters much as you do with 6-packs of annuals. You will have a better chance of success if you choose only annuals but there are a few perennials native to your area that might produce some flower for you the first year. You need to visit a local nursery to get help with this project.  They will be able to advise you on which plants and seeds will be available with enough lead to be flowering in April.  They may even be willing to grow them for you if they have enough greenhouse space.

Good luck, it will be a fun winter project and I'm sure the wedding will be beautiful with whatever flowers provide the atmosphere.  Even though we are not able to give you the answer you were hoping for, we are happy to know that our message is reaching across North America. When young people want to surround themselves with native plants and wildflowers instead of tropical fantasies on their wedding day, we know that Lady Bird Johnson's legacy lives on!

 

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