But what of the neglected spaces? "What neglected spaces", you ask? The vacant lots full of weeds and trash, the medians of divided highways within the city limits, the easements between the sidewalk and the street. These are all places that present opportunities for beautification and a restoration. What a wonderful project for student service clubs, civic organizations, gardening clubs, or just interested individuals! Everyone knows of such places in their cities and neighborhoods.
The first step is getting permission. Many county property appraisers have websites where you can get information on the owners of the property in question. If a highway median is something you'd like to improve, then usually your state Dept. of Transportation office would be the one to contact. Once permission has been obtained, the next step is to do a little research.
Most of these types of areas have no irrigation, so the best type of plants are wildflowers. They are more likely to be drought-tolerant, pest- and disease-resistant. Always choose varieties that are going to grow well in the USDA hardiness zone you are located in. Find out about invasive plant species in your area and what plants are prohibited, or banned in your state.
By expert estimates, there are over 20,000 species of flowering plants in North America, belonging to about 300 different families. Those that grow in the wild or on their own, without cultivation, are called wildflowers. Wildflowers indigenous to the continent are called “natives”. Others, which may be quite common, but not indigenous, have been introduced from some other part of the world and are referred to as “naturalized.” Both types share one common distinction: They are equipped to grow on their own in nature.
Wildflowers.org has good information on noxious weeds and invasives, as well as very complete information on wildflowers for each area of the country. Their recommended wildflower seed supplier is American Meadows, and it also has an excellent website with great information.
This spring let's all do our part to get outside and get involved!
Until next time...become the change you imagine!