Starting a Garden: Wildflower seed mixes

You’re walking down the aisle of the local CVS or Walgreens and you see a packet or container of wildflower seed mix and the picture on the packaging takes your breath away. It looks like a location for a commercial for a feminine hygiene product and you can imagine yourself twirling around your garden in that sea of flowers while butterflies flutter around you, so you buy the wildflower seeds to start your garden.

You get home and distribute the seeds around your yard and sprinkle them with water and wait. Within a few weeks you start to see a little bit of green emerging from the bare earth and a couple of weeks after that the first blooms are spotted. Congrats, you’re now a gardener! It wasn’t that hard, right? What’s the big fuss?

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My neighbor’s garden.

Whenever you see your neighbors working in the garden you make a point to go out into yours and look busy. They’re all looking at you and surely it must be because you’ve joined the ranks of the local gardeners, so you smile and wave back.  This goes on all summer long, you see them and they see you and you smile and wave.

The next spring you see that all of your neighbors are growing the same flowers as you and you pat yourself on the back for being a gardening trendsetter. You smile and wave at your gardening buddies– but they don’t smile back. Did one of them just give you the finger?

Last summer they were all smiles and even shared some plants with you, but this year they’re not so happy to see you in the garden. So, what went wrong?

You planted wildflower seeds and now they have all of those wildflowers in their garden!

A couple of years ago my neighbor started a garden with a container of wildflower seed mix she bought at Walgreens and I’ve been fighting those “wildflowers” in my garden ever since. The picture above is of her garden that has been taken over by the yellow and red Coreopsis you see growing along her walkway. Many of the wildflowers can even become a pest and crowd out native plants or plants or ornamental plants you buy for your garden. If you look closely at the photograph above you may be able to see a couple of lily blooms behind her gate. They’re hard to spot because they are yellow and red, but trust me, they’re there.

Once these wildflowers go to seed the seeds are dispersed by birds, the wind, pets & people into areas outside your garden where they may not be so welcomed. I don’t have anything against “wildflowers” or the gardeners that grow them, but my garden is a perfect combination of a contrived representation of nature and weeds that I’m happy with. It may not be beautiful to all but it is mine and everything I grow in it is there because I like it. Before I knew better I made the mistake once of planting a packet of wildflower seeds and it took a couple of years to get all of them under control and out of the garden.

Friends don’t let friends plant wildflower seed mixes.

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