WILD FLOWERS from THE GARDEN SPOT
by Mort Mather
Your gardening columns are so informative and so
pertinent to the ordinary gardener that I am hoping to persuade you to write one on wild
To me, many wild ones are just as beautiful as the hybridized and highly developed
blooms. I would like to be able to incorporate some of them among my (mostly) perennial
flowers. Some have self-seeded and I would like to encourage the ones I have and be able
to plant or transplant more into the areas where I want them.
I am talking about the common field flowersdaisies, black-eyed
Anne's lace, violets, lupine, pink yarrow (I don't dare tamper with lady's slippers). As I
get deeper and deeper into my 80s, I am trying to fill my garden with rugged, undemanding,
Can you tell me which of the above are annuals, biennials, perennials? Do they
propagate by seed or roots? Many of them sprout small plants after their blooming season.
Could I transplant these in the fall? Or could I move the small plants early in the
spring? I know that Queen Ann's lace has a long carrot-like root which makes it difficult
to move. The daisies and black-eyed Susans seem to come up in the same place year after
year. Are they perennials, or are they just self-seeding?
Thank you, Arline Dupras, Tyngsboro, MA
Last year my wife, Barbara, changed the complexion of one of her gardens because, well
here is a quote from her garden diary: "Columbine is punking out. Whole area between
house and sidewalk has a mind of its own. This season I'm letting it do what it wants.
Lots of Black Eyed Susans, Daisies, grape vine, Queen Anne's lace, vetch. In '97 I should
move any astilbe that manages to survive." The area was beautiful and lower
maintenance than her other plots. The plot already had some ferns that she transplanted
from the wild and she thinks the grape vine came with that transplanting.
The daisies, Black eyed Susans, Queen Anne's lace, and lupine propagate by seed.
Probably the easiest way to move them to your garden would be to watch the flowers in the
wild, perhaps flag them with a ribbon so you don't loose sight of them when the petals are
gone. Pick the flower head after they have dried a little. You could scatter the seed in
the garden at that time or save them in the house in a dry place away from the light. Some
seeds need to be frozen and since any seed that propagates in the wild in Maine must be
able to withstand freezing it might be a good idea to freeze the seeds that you bring in
If you don't want to wait until next year and you know where some of the plants you
desire grow, look for the young seedlings this spring and transplant them.
Queen Ann's lace is a biennial. It is actually a member of the carrot family. You could
transplant the root but not of a flowering plant because it is on the way out. Of course
that is one way to get the seeds into the garden.
"Yarrow can be propagated by seeds or root divisions in the spring or fall. Space
the plants ten to twelve inches apart as they will spread. Yarrow does much better growing
in full sun and in slightly acidic soil." The Roots of
Healing by Deb Soule (Carol Publishing Group, Seacaucus, NJ 07094)
I would transplant violets in the early spring, I guess. I suspect they will be the
most difficult not because they wouldn't like transplanting but because they might not
like their new home. Light, shade, competition, other plants in the neighborhood, plants
that grew there before, soil type, soil acidity, soil nutrients, moisture, soil depth,
wind exposure, and some things I haven't thought of may influence a plant's ability to
thrive or even survive. Acceptance of what works may be the best advice I can offer.
Wild flowers are wonderful in the wild or as part of a home flower garden. I even like
to appreciate them in my lawn. Thanks for asking.
ŠApril 4, 1997
Mort is a husband and father. He authored a book, Gardening For
Independence and was named Environmentalist of the Year by Down East Magazine
in 1987. He is a consultant for organizations. You
can eat his organic produce at his son's southern