My partner and I moved into a new home in late June and with it came a delightful mix of already-established gardens. But being the garden-fanatics that we are, we still wanted some projects to call our own without disturbing the existing garden beds.
Gladys posing by the wildflowers planted along the fence.
We thought of designing a new perennial bed, but by the time we moved in we just didn’t have the time, what with unpacking, painting, and all of those other fun things that accompany a move. Low maintenance landscaping with wildflowers seemed like the perfect answer. We could make our mark and get the satisfaction of watching something grow, minus the fuss and thought that go along with installing a formal garden.
Preparing the area for low maintenance landscaping
Jeremiah had one area that he wanted to plant and I had my own. He tilled a three-foot area in an L-shape on the inside of our fence, lining the back of our property. He found that it worked best if he weed-whacked the grass down to almost nothing before tilling. This area was in great shape and didn’t need any additional soil or compost added to it before planting.
Taking a break after tilling the bed.
My planting area abutted our stone patio and essentially extended an already-established bed by about four feet. This spot was a little harder to clear, with its stubborn roots and rocky soil. I had to bring in re-enforcements (my mom and dad) before planting, who helped me hand-pull the remaining grass and add in some compost to help enrich the soil. This was a bigger job than we originally thought, but was definitely worth it in the end.
After we had prepped these areas, Jeremiah set a large Mockorange shrub he got from work in front of our screened porch, creating a circular garden bed around it. The perfect spot to add any leftover seed!
Choosing the seed
Jeremiah is all about low maintenance landscaping with wildflowers, so he chose the Northeast Wildflower Mix in his wildflower bed, which produces plenty of color in the first season and continues to bloom year after year. He is also obsessed with Sunflowers, so he mixed a pound of the Sunflower Seed Mix in with the Northeast Mix.
We had one suprise red Zinnia in hundreds of pink and purple!
I’m a little – um – higher-maintenance, and decided that I want to plant my wildflower bed so that it would bloom each season with a different mix of annuals. I love experimenting in the garden and see this bed as a place to have some fun. I planted Zinnia Purple Prince,Zinnia Luminosa,Baby Snapdragons,Black Eyed Susans,Sunflowers and Sweet William. This garden had a pink and yellow color scheme and I knew going in that the Black Eyed Susans might not bloom until next year. The Sweet William were also a plan for next season – we planted them in Jeremiah’s parents’ garden last year and they are just spectacular.
The pinks and oranges of the Cosmos have been stunning.
The Northeast Wildflower Seed Mix contains 27 different annual and perennial wildflowers that thrive when planted in the Northeast. Exceptionally easy to grow, this mix brings a dynamic medley of blooms to the landscape throughout the entire summer season, with no gaps in color. Annual wildflowers like Calendula and Cornflower appear quickly in the first year, while perennial varieties like Wild Lupine and Echinacea provide many years of color starting in the second season. Designed for planting in: CT, ME, MA, RI, VT, NH, DE, PA, NY, NJ, MD, WV, QC and the Eastern Provinces, this mix contains only 100% Pure, non-GMO & neonicotinoid-free seeds.
The Midwest Wildflower Seed Mix is comprised of 28 different wildflower species, all perfect for planting in the Heartland of the USA. Designed to provide nonstop season-long color, annuals like Plains Coreopsis and Sulphur Cosmos burst into bloom their very first summer, while perennial varieties like Purple Prairie Clover and Black Eyed Susan deliver color for many years, starting in their second season. Contains 100% Pure, non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free seeds best for planting in: IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH, WI and Ontario.
Containing 26 different wildflowers that thrive when planted in the Southeastern US, the Southeast Wildflower Seed Mix brings steady color to the landscape throughout the summer season. Blooming in the first year, annual wildflowers like Cosmos and Rose Mallow deliver quick, bold color while perennial varieties like Scarlet Sage and Shasta Daisy offer years of lasting blooms beginning in their second season. Features 100% Pure, non-GMO and neonicotinoid-free seeds for planting in: AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, East TX, and VA.
The Southwest Wildflower Mix is comprised of 26 different wildflowers that will thrive in the Southwest region of the country. Designed to create show-stopping color all season long, this mix will burst into blooms the first year with annual wildflowers like African Daisy and California Poppy, and will provide color in years after with perennial varieties like Oxeye Daisy and Mexican Hat. For best results, plant in AZ, Southern CA, NM, Southern NV, OK and Western TX. All of the seed we offer at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
Planting with wildflowers
Planting the wildflowers was definitely the easiest part of the process. I mixed the seed in an old ice-cream bucket and hand scattered it on the bare ground with Jeremiah following behind to step on the seed, compressing it into the soil. We walked over it one more time to make sure it was packed in and then watered. Overall, the entire process of planting both beds took less than an hour.
Mixing my seed.
One of the reasons we chose to plant wildflowers is there isn’t much maintenance required of the gardener after planting. But with the abnormally hot, dry summer we had here in Vermont, there wasn’t enough regular rain to help the wildflowers grow. So about twice a week (for the first few weeks), I had to connect a second hose to our first and drag it around to the back of the property to water the newly planted seeds.
Seedlings starting to come up after planting in Mid-July.
Watering is one of my least favorite garden activities so let’s just say I watered the absolute bare minimum I could get away with to keep those wildflowers alive. There is a visible difference in my wildflower bed and his, because I conveniently chose to plant my wildflowers next to our hose hookup. The zinnias got more water and therefore are much taller and fuller than the ones by the fence. Such a planner, I am.
Wildflowers blooming in mid-September.
It’s a true testament to the quality of American Meadows' seed – and the durability of wildflowers in general – that we planted in early July, I only watered the back bed a handful of times, and our gardens still grew into absolutely spectacular flower beds. This is exactly what we were after - a low maintenance landscaping miracle!
Even without water, the wildflowers by the fence have been absolutely stunning.
The Mardi Gras Sunflower Mix features a rich, painterly palette of gold, ochre, and rust red hues. These sunflowers will grow between 3.3 to 8 feet tall, with varied blooms that range from 4-12 inches wide. Plant to beautify your landscape and enjoy watching bees, butterflies, and birds come to visit. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and guaranteed to grow. Annual. (Helianthus)
Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers feature black-cherry petals surrounding a deep brown center. These striking blooms, measuring up to 5” across, glow red in the sunlight. Plant to add a rich, moody hue to your garden and cut flower arrangements in summer and fall. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and guaranteed to grow. Annual. (Helianthus)
Double Sun Sunflowers feature double solid gold petals surrounding lime green centers. Large 7-9-inch-wide blooms add cheerful color and unusual texture to your garden and cut flower arrangements. Plant to feeds bees, butterflies, and birds. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and guaranteed to grow. Annual. (Helianthus)
Crimson Velvet Sunflowers feature deep brown centers surrounded by petals in a matching hue, tipped with soft yellow as if dipped in sunshine. This striking heirloom variety is easy to grow, with large flowers up to 8 inches wide that create a landing pad for pollinators and birds. This of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and guaranteed to grow. Annual. (Helianthus)
Enjoying the results
Even though we had to wait a little later than normal for our wildflowers to bloom because we planted so late in the season, it was undoubtedly worth it. Every day I take a trip out in the morning and early evening to survey the beds and snap photos of what’s blooming.
Even without water, the wildflowers by the fence have been absolutely stunning.
The Cosmos in the back bed have taken over and added a soft touch to the fence line. My wildflower bed turned out to be mostly pink and purple, but I love it anyway and learned a lot about choosing seed (which really is the point in experimenting in the garden).
Everyone in the family has been enjoying the wildflowers.
We think our lovely bird population might have snacked on most of our Sunflower Seed because after planting a pound, we only have about a dozen Sunflower blooms. Next season I think we’ll bury the Sunflower seeds into the soil a bit more.
We've been treasuring every sunflower bloom.
A pollinator oasis
For us, the best part of our wildflower planting has been seeing how much the pollinators enjoy – and need – the wildflowers we planted. Our property already has a variety of native plants that bring pollinators in all season long, but the wildflowers have given them a new reason to stay. Each time I head out to the wildflower gardens I notice hundreds of bees, butterflies and even several hummingbirds.
Bees and butterflies are loving the wildflowers.
Planning more low maintenance landscaping for next season
This fall, Jeremiah is extending his wildflower bed by another four feet and adding more of the Northeast Mix. I am going to add spring-blooming bulbs to my bed this fall and more Zinnias and Cosmos. This way, once the Daffodils,Tulips and Allium finish blooming, the wildflowers will take over.
A few of the black eyed susans are starting to show their colors in mid-September.
We are also digging up two large beds of orange Daylilies on the property this fall and planting the All Annual Mix as a stand-in until we can design a perennial garden. I posted on our local neighborhood forum that I would have daylilies to give away and got about 10 replies, with plenty of offers to help dig them up. I am excited to use this as a way to meet gardeners in my new town.
Fall is the perfect time to sow wildflowers! Our Fall Maximum Wildflower Seed Mix is designed for fall planting and will have your garden bursting with blooms. Our easy-to-grow mix includes 42 flower varieties for a boldly colorful planting. Perfect for meadows, garden beds, and lawn replacement. This hardy mix is perfect for any region: in warm climates, plant for bright fall colors; in cool climates, plan a dormant fall planting for blooms from spring through fall. All seed is non-GMO, neonicotinoid free, and guaranteed to grow.
Plant your support for the disappearing pollinator population in your own backyard with our Northeast Pollinator Mix. This easy-to-grow blend is designed to provide food and habitat to northeastern pollinators throughout the length of the growing season. Annual and perennial wildflowers like New England Aster, Black Eyed Susan, Milkweed, Coreopsis and Cosmos provide pollen, nectar and shelter for hundreds of important species, including Monarch butterflies and native bees. Contains only 100% pure, non-GMO and neonicotinoid-free seeds, best for planting in CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WV, QC and the Eastern Townships. Guaranteed to grow.
Restore native habitat to the landscape by planting the Native Northeast Wildflower Mix. Containing 18 native wildflowers found throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic, including Spotted Joe Pye Weed, Butterfly Weed, Red Columbine and Wild Lupine, this colorful mix is incredibly easy to care for. Best for planting in: CT, DE, MD, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WV, QC and the Eastern Provinces. All of the seed we offer at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
A field of Lupine is an amazing sight, with spiky blooms of saturated indigo-blue that last from late spring to summer. Combine them with later-blooming flowers (like Shasta Daisy and Rudbeckia) for an extended season of color. Growing to be about 12-36” tall, Lupine is a great choice for the front of the meadow or garden bed. Extremely easy to grow and deer resistant, this perennial flower blooms year after year. Seeds are 100% pure, non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow.
We had our first frost over the weekend.
You could definitely say we are wildflower-obsessed, with a grand plan to eventually reduce our huge lawn (almost two acres of grass) to at least 50% wildflowers and more perennial garden beds throughout. Wish us luck!
The perfect seat for morning coffee.
What about you – do you have a spot to try out some low maintenance landscaping with wildflowers? Tell us about it in the comments below!