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Will-flowers

Make your own meadow: A wildflower project you can do at home

Even if you love to drive around the state looking at wildflowers in the spring, it’s easy to grow your own meadow where you can see the array of blooms at any time. That’s what photographer Will van Overbeek did on an irregular swath of ground that runs a couple of hundred feet along the curb in front of his house in South Austin. It was for both sentimental reasons as well as environmental. “I love wildflowers,” says van Overbeek, who grew up in California where his father, an amateur botanist, taught biology at California Institute of Technology. “We used to drive into the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Modesto to see the flowers and to take photos of them.”

It was only natural that van Overbeek decided to plant a meadow when he and his family moved to a new house in 1997. “There was no lawn in front,” he says. The soil was also very poor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I have always heard that wildflowers do well in bad soil,” he says, “but even so I had a truckload of dirt brought in for the fall seeding.”

When planting your own wildflower garden you can also refer to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, wildflower.org, which is encyclopedic in scope. The database includes “how to” articles on large-scale wildflower planting, recreating a prairie, planting a meadow garden, how to grow bluebonnets and a lot more. Plus, as van Overbeek notes, “Every bag of seed has directions on the back. They are easy to follow and all you have to do afterwards is pray for rain.” That’s a factor beyond our control. “You are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” he says. “But the reward is wonderful.”

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Read more of author Helen Thompson’s work at seeninhouse.com.