Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
IT’S NEARLY SPRING – and that leaves us all thinking about our gardens, whether in a few weeks they will burst into bloom or, like much of mine, are still a blank slate. For nearly a year, I’ve been browsing garden design books, sketching garden plans and quizzing our kids about what they would like in a yard.
Monkey bars? “Nah,” my 7-year-old son said. “They’re too easy for me…unless! Unless you put them over here…” he said, motioning to a spot right off the garage. “That way, I could use them to climb onto that roof.”
Never mind, I told him.
Our 4-year-old was equally ambivalent about having anything built outdoors. He wants bubbles, paint, logs to heave around and dirt to “squish,” he said.
If other kids are like mine in what they want outdoors, this bodes well for the Wildflower Center’s forthcoming Family Garden (described on page 8) that is being developed with research in mind that shows kids today are lacking creative, imaginative outdoor play.
For my garden, it means I might get more out of doing less. I gave up on inviting in full-service landscape contractors after the fifth confirmed what the previous four had said: Rebuilding our 10 feet of garden walls, resetting our 8’ x 12’ flagstone patio and repairs to a brick walkway would amount to a five-figure cost.
(I can relate to Lisa Kay Adam, whose letter about the cost of investing in native trees and lawn appears on page 3. Lisa, we do promise to publish more about how to approach native plant gardening on a budget.)
At my house, nearly a year of research, site visits and soul searching about our garden has resulted in this: We will not have costly play structures but more dirt and chalk and paint and butterfly plants. We will hire someone willing to help us build a drystack garden wall this year, repair – not rebuild – our patio down the line, and likely leave the uneven brick as-is. We’ll do the irrigation work that we can ourselves – probably with some guidance from an hourly consultant. We’ll plant the edibles we want and the non-edibles that will help support them by attracting pollinators (check out “All Abuzz” by Bibi Wein on page 12).
And since I missed the symbolic spring deadline to have our garden ready for use, I‘ll look toward the fall.