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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - March 30, 2015

From: Asheville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Wildflowers
Title: Native wildflowers for an Asheville, NC garden.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in Asheville. I just bought a small home for the first time with a .22 acre yard. It's extremely sunny on the east side and gets good sun most of the day. Like most WNC area yards it's on a steep hill. The current grass is well established as it's an older home. And the lot doesn't hold water or remain soggy. I have no issues currently with drainage or mud. I'm a single disabled female veteran and I would like to plant wild flowers because they're beautiful but also because I can't mow and don't want to pay for constant mowing. The main reason I wanted a yard was for my retired service dog to spend her golden years kind of "out to pasture" dog style. Also there are rocks on the steepest part of the hillside which seem designed as previous flower beds but also to reduce possible past run off. However, now they would just be in the way of any mowing attempts in that area. I hope this is enough information. It's too bad one can't upload a photo to help describe their particular challenge. For me, I like a variety of wild flowers and I don't really like structured or organized landscaping. I'm hoping you can suggest hardy local species that will brighten up my yard and create a pretty area visually without requiring a ton of upkeep or professionals. And I'm not able to do a lot of physical labor so it needs to be low maintenance long term although I do understand that initially it will require more work to get started and establish than I hope to do routinely. Thanks in advance for the advice. GG

ANSWER:

It is impossible to give effective recommendations for general garden overhauls and design sight unseen.  However, we can recommend some wildflower species that should work somewhere in your landscape with the conditions your describe:

Ruellia caroliniensis

Eupatorium rotundifolium

Solidago gracillima

Silphium terebinthinaceum

Veronicastrum virginicum

Agalinis aphylla

Viola bicolor

Bignonia capreolata

Lonicera sempervirens

Kalmia latifolia

Finally, we very much recommend exploring the excellent website of the North Carolina Native Plant Society.  You will find good suggestions there for plants that will work in your garden.  Further, you might consider joining their group and getting to know some other like-mined folks in your area.

 

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