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As I look out the car window during car trips both short and long, I've wondered how interesting a garden you could have only using local wild flower species. If the hybrids and generally cultivated species of plants were to disappear overnight, we could still have colorful, charming flower gardens. Just like the perennial flowers I have surrounding my home, I see the same wild flowers growing along the road at the same times of the year and many are quite beautiful. From the first coltsfoot heads to the late purple wild asters waving in the fall breeze, I really appreciate seeing these old friends bloom and change with the seasons.
It seems there has been a resurgence in interest in gardening with native species. I know when our school planted a butterfly garden, part of the conditions of the grant were using primarily native Illinois plants. You certainly can build a very lovely garden using the plants that are native to your area! (If you are interested, I wrote an article about the process of installing our butterfly garden. I ought to update it with a picture of the mature garden now, a couple of years later!) That said, you have to be very careful not to take plants from protected areas, or collect rare plants that are protected by law! Many of those native plants are available from reputable sources!
Thanks for reading and contributing! The conversations that arise from the articles are my favorite part!
I enjoyed your post and the other members comments.
I'd like to reccommend a visit to Bernheim Forest and Arboretum when you are in Kentucky again. There are many gardens, and collections of planted trees and shrubs. There are also extensive natural areas with hiking trails. There are easy trails, and also more challenging ones. The natural areas are left pretty much as mother nature makes them except for maintaining trails and trying to remove invasive exotic species.
There are many wildflowers to view throughout the seasons, and I think you and your family would enjoy a visit. Bernheim has an enthusiastic staff and many knowledgeable volunteers who will be glad to answer any questions you may have. Have a look at bernheim.org.
I almost could have written the same kind of article about the wildflowers in my local area. My wildflower book is as big as a family Bible, so I don't carry it with me, but I have learned the plant families well, and that helps a lot when trying to identify once I get home.
Thanks for the recommendation, Jim! We're headed back to Kentucky sometime this summer, so I'll have to see if we can plan a side trip! Not that we've come close to exhausting the trails at Mammoth Cave Nat. Park, but it is always nice to branch out into new territory! DH is still campaigning for a move to KY. LOL His heart is in the cave, I think.