Growing a Natural Flower Garden


Back to nature is the landscape beautification theme. Lady Bird Johnson, wife of former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, championed a flower beautification process. Mrs. Johnson’s efforts contributed to the Beautification Act of 1965 that resulted in natural-looking flower growth along many U.S. highways. You can achieve a natural garden in your own landscape, which may be in shade or full sun, a wooded or desert area, on a hill or flat ground. Take the term “natural” further and create an organic, chemical-free flower garden.

Choosing plants

In keeping with how the plants would grow in the wild, the flowers should require little care. Drought tolerant flowers reduce the need for regular watering. Plant options may include self-seeding annuals or perennials flowers. The color, type (flowering or non-flowering), and heights of plant is your choice but plants 18 inches or shorter will better blend into the landscape as they wilt at the end of their blooming season. Planting at least three flowers of the same color and variety in close proximity, though, helps make the plant stand out. Using all one plant variety is acceptable. Wildflower seeds provide a fast and easy way to cover a large area. A layer of straw will help to hold the seeds in place.

Location

Natural flower gardens may cover a large area to help reduce erosion or dust, or to add a touch of color. Natural gardens can also be small scale. One spectacular approach is to plant crocus in your lawn for early spring color. The crocus will have wilted away by the time the grass needs mowing. To create the natural look, emulate how the flowers might grow in the wild. Toss handfuls of bulbs onto the lawn and plant them where they land.

Planting

Place plants random distances apart, but follow the minimum separation distance recommended on the plant tag or seed packet. The border of the planting bed should be wavy to mimic how the plants would grow in the wild.

Care
Plants such as flowers and ornamental grass that live on rainfall alone best describe a natural garden. Spreading a layer of organic mulch, like shredded bark or leaf mold, around plants will help to reduce weed growth, hold in moisture, and block direct sunlight on the soil to help prevent soil dry-out. Other than initial watering after planting, a natural garden should thrive on its own. No fertilizer is used.

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Flowers return each spring along the stretch of Alabama highway pictured above. Image courtesy of Brandi Simms, Wikimedia Commons.