After researching how to create a meadow/wild flower garden (out of a former Scottish Highlander cow pasture at MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora, NY) I decided to try an experiment at home. In the east side yard of our bed and breakfast, McLallen House, located in Trumansburg, NY near Ithaca, on the west side of Cayuga Lake in the central Finger Lakes region, the wild garden experiment began in August 2006. A perimeter strip was mown around the garden area and the interior plants were allowed to grow, develop flowers and set seed; in November, everything was mowed to about 5 inches, and my collection of old seeds (annuals and perennials) was sown directly onto the garden area. Plant hardiness zone 5b.
Year One (2007): In late April, mowed perimeter grass strip and two walking paths through the garden which is loaded with yellow Celandine flowers – plants die-back in summer. In June, the Village zoning officer phoned about a neighbor’s complaint that “they aren’t mowing their lawn” (sure enough, it was the same person who led the charge against our winter-season, acoustic house concerts – that’s another story!). I submitted a garden maintenance program with a list of sown seeds. He paid a visit and we walked the garden area; he was satisfied that it was a garden in the making. Much of what flowered that first year was a variety of grasses, asters, rudbeckia, phlox, dandelion, butter-cup, Queen Anne’s lace, pre-existing planting of oriental poppies, day lilies, and sweet woodruff..primarily a fall season floral display. In August, I drove ten minutes from our house, along Searsburg Rd (County Route 1 to Seneca Lake), and dug up and transplanted ragged robin plants collected along the road of the Finger Lakes National Forest, and Bill transplanted the butterfly bush from the north-side of the house. For spring season flowers, in fall, we planted 1,000 mixed daffodil bulbs in the garden and wood hyacinth bulbs in the lawn. We finished planting the bulbs on a warm Christmas day.
Year two (2008): In April, Bill mowed the perimeter and the two walking paths through the garden. The daffodils bloomed from mid – late April through May along with existing young red bud trees (Cercis canadensis: some planted and some self-seeded). June 1st: Dug up clumps of existing, rampant Celandine (intent is to control invasive growth over time) and planted clumps of Euphorbia, Ajuga, Geranium subcaulescens, Solomon’s Seal, and lily of the valley from Mary Fanelli’s in New Hampshire. Mowed another tributary path to get closer to other plants under the Hemlock tree. In other dug-out Celandine patches: sowed seeds of Cosmos ‘Sensation Purity’, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’, and Helianthus ‘Autumn Beauty’ with the purpose of letting them germinate in-situ. When they’re plug-size, they’ll be replanted in new dug-out Celandine patches through out the garden.