Organizing a community wildflower garden is a great way to create a garden that is eco-friendly, welcoming to birds, insects and people and beautiful an otherwise unused public area.
Wildflower gardens are essentially gardening with the plants that nature has provided around us, and filled meadows, forests and grassland with. These plants are great for attracting butterflies, bees and birds to their blooms too because they provide the food and nectar that these organisms need to survive.
If you want to start a community wildflower garden, use these tips to guide you through the process.
Photo Credit: LeeWilshire via Flickr
Determine A Need and Interest
The first step to getting any community garden started is to determine if there is a need and interest for one. Not only does this give you an idea of where the garden can go, if other people are interested and available to help, and who would benefit from the wildflower garden, but it also gives you the information you need to take to any city or community officials.
Once you know there is a need, begin gathering contact information for volunteers and people that are interested in helping establish the wildflower garden. The more people you can get involved from the earliest point, the better, because then you have a pool of people to call on for help with different tasks and stages of the wildflower gardens creation.
Determine Garden Space
The best places to establish a wildflower garden are any areas that are underused, overlooked or just neglected and an eyesore. With a little elbow grease any patch of land can become a beautiful garden. Try to find somewhere that is easily accessible to the public, both for the ease of the volunteers that will be working in the garden and so that the public can see and enjoy the garden. Find out if land that you are interested in using is public or private. If private you need to approach the landowner and determine if they are willing to allow a garden to be set up, if public, you will need to approach town land commissioners to determine if a wildflower garden can be planted and tended.
Establishing the Garden
Once you have secured permission to use land, its time to get the garden set up. Because this is a wildflower garden, there is substantially less work for you to do in regards to setting up beds and borders. Try to keep the garden as natural as possible, using the existing landscaping as a guide. Take the time to find out which wildflowers are native to your area and will grow best in the environment that you have available for the community wildflower garden. Test soil, aerate if needed and begin to prep soil for planting and seeding.
Planting and Caring for the Garden
Try to keep the garden as natural as possible in your planting, wildflowers do not grow in organized rows or borders. Instead of scattering wildflower seeds, opt for seeded mats and individual transplants. Because this is not a personal garden and no one will be around to oversee it all the time, mats and plantings will establish themselves faster. Use your volunteers to help you get all the plants in, help with watering for the first few days and oversee the
weeding over time.
Using the Garden for Play and Education
One of the best parts of growing a community wildflower garden is being able to enjoy it. Once it has been planted consider adding signs to let others know about the garden and to point out particular plants and insects that call the garden home. Invite volunteers and the community out for a day of watercolor sketching or butterfly spotting. The garden is meant to be enjoyed and used by the community so ensure that it continues to grow by including the community in its care and use.