A wild garden is a lazy gardener’s ideal, for once it is established, it thrives on neglect.
The more conscientious you are about leaving it alone, the better the plants will like it.
Of course, a newly planted wild garden does need some attention until the tiny plants can take care of themselves. Undesirable weeds must be removed for a season or two, and the garden will probably require watering during the hot, dry spells of summer—but only until your garden has taken hold and can carry on by itself.
If the wild garden is located under trees, let the leaves fall naturally where they will. The most delicate ferns and wildflowers will come up through the leaves without any trouble. If the leaves are raked off, many of the little plants will be killed for their delicate tips need the protection of leaves and are also easily broken when touched by the rake.
Heavy drifts of leaves should be removed carefully to a thin coating.
Choosing Plants That Grow Naturally In Your Area
In selecting plants, it is wise to follow nature’s lead by observing the type of wild plants growing naturally in your area. She has been choosing the material for your latitude and the conditions surrounding your local area for thousands of years.
You will observe that native plants are happiest under our native trees. For instance, the beech fern is so-called because it seems to have a great fondness for beech trees and is at its best when growing in their shade. Wild lily-of-the-valley also seems to prefer -association with beech trees.
Yellow lady slipper is particularly fond of the company of scarlet oak, red oak, and tulip trees and enjoys the moist slopes where these trees grow best. When seen growing with maidenhair fern on a damp, rich woodland slope beneath the shade of these magnificent trees, the yellow lady slipper makes a gorgeous picture.
A wild garden can be made in a shady spot between two buildings. Here it would be wise to start with the hardiest wildflowers and feasts, occasionally experimenting with a few of the rarer ones. But, always determine before planting whether your soil is acid, neutral, or alkaline.
It would be well to add a light covering of leaves in the autumn if no natural fall of leaves is likely to reach the spot. Oak, hickory, tulip, birch, elm, dogwood, and sugar maple leaves are to be preferred for this purpose. Surprising results are often obtained with a 1″ inch mulch of well-rotted sawdust.
Some trees, such as Norway maples, present a trying problem in any garden because they are very shallow rooted and form a mass of thick fibrous roots which take all the nourishment from the soil over a wide area.
However, successful wild gardens have been made under Norway maples simply by grubbing the ground deeply before planting and mixing in oak sawdust and humus equally.
It is essential to keep the Norway maples fed by supplying them with tree food placed in drill holes at a depth well below the roots of the wildflowers.
44659 by AW. Vick, Jr.