Thoughts of wildflower meadows

Published 12:25 pm Monday, October 18, 2021

By Jan Miller Penton

The hint of fall in the air makes every day a little better. Our mild Mississippi weather is a wonderful reprieve from the sultry hot days of summer in the south. On my morning walk I realized that Missy was more frisky than usual so I coaxed her to stroll a little further. I enjoy seeing all the pretty lawns, but this year I’ve been delighted at the colorful array of wildflowers in ditches and fields throughout the area.

Since Ralf Null, my neighbor and horticulturist friend from Columbus, taught a class on wildflower arranging my eyes have been more open to their beauty. I always loved spotting the bold yellows of black-eyed Susans along with the more subtle yellows of goldenrod swaying in the breeze. But these days I’m drawn to the magnificence of beautyberry and many other species of what some may think of as weeds. I was listening to Felder Rushing the other day and learned that the leaves of the beautyberry plant can be used as a natural insect repellant. They have to be crushed before they are effective, though.

It seems funny that after I had permission from an expert to appreciate the beauty of these plants I love them even more. I’ve been researching ways to create a wild flower meadow and have read many varying opinions, but plan to use ideas from several different sources to create it.

If my grandfather was alive I’m sure he could help me out since farming was his passion as well as his livelihood.

He was an organic gardener way before it was a thing so my love of the outdoors, flora, and fauna is probably in my blood. I remember well that Papaw didn’t want any of that new insecticide on the food that we ate, but he did use it on the cotton. When I told my precious Tennessee girl, Melinda, about my thoughts of creating a wildflower meadow she was impressed.

Laughingly she kidded, “Look at my Mama, going all hippy on me with her getting back to nature plans!”

I have had huge flowerbeds along with the work it takes to keep them up, and think a more natural approach will be great for my sixties and beyond. I smile when I think of how my boys complained about helping me with flower beds on Saturday mornings when they wanted to be sleeping in! They will surely grin and think it’s about time Mom saw the light!

To make myself clear, I still love my flowerbeds, but plan on making them a little more manageable and will not try to keep everything as a lawn, thus my wildflower meadow idea.

Native plants in a meadow attract butterflies, bees, and other insects. I think mice and snakes live there also, so I plan to mow trails for walking among the flowers.  I’m all about nature, but as Jim Stafford’s old song goes, I don’t like spiders or snakes!