Our now sixteen year old home sits on "Oak Hill." Here, surrounded by magnificent white and burr oaks, I had to give up my sunny gardens. We had divided our property, selling our old house in the open, and building a new one in the adjacent woods. The wooded areas have been gradually converted to shady wildflower gardens. They are now my gardening pride and joy. Still, there was one area I wasn't quite sure what to do with. It was a six foot, east facing bank, on the edge of the woods. Leading down to the ditch along the road, it was a maze of gooseberry bushes, burdock&uncounted weeds. It couldn't be mowed, yet offered a half a day of sunshine. What to do?
I decided to try and give it a "prairie look" and hoped the morning sunshine would be adequate. In the fall of 2007, I cut back the gooseberries and prickly ash.. Then, that fall, the bank got burned. I had already purchased some native wildflower seeds from Prairie Moon, a local wildflower specialist. Raking the ground, then scattering and tamping the seeds, I hoped the spring melt wouldn't wash them all into the ditch. There was no way for me to tell that spring as to what came up. I couldn't identify the weeds from the flowers. So I waited till the maze reached about 6-8 inches in June and then weed whacked everything down to about 3 inches. Now my precious wildflowers would have a fighting chance. The bulbs I had planted, of course, bloomed that first spring. The rest would have to wait at least another year before blooming.... if they survived!
Two years later, the summer of 2009, purple coneflowers, and woodland phlox made their first appearance.
August 2010: the brown eyed Susan's showed up in a great numbers.
At the top of the bank some native sunflowers (cup plants) more than 7 feet tall. In October, I expect to see the bank turn blue, when the New England asters put on the final show of the season. What fun!