Wild Front Garden

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Check out this wild front garden I came upon yesterday afternoon. On just a glance I can identify a couple of poppy varieties, calendula, bachelors buttons (aka cornflower), cosmos, and a host of attractive weeds.

I just can’t see myself dedicating the space to a wild garden of flowers, preferring to fill up that sunny front yard with vegetables, yet I very much appreciate the idea of it. I passed a lot of gorgeous gardens on this street, but this is the only one that stopped me in my tracks and begged for pictures. The irony being that this is probably the most hands off garden on the block, requiring a bit of deadheading now and again if you want to keep the blooms going throughout the summer but very little else. Any one of these plants individually might require some staking to keep those long, thin stems growing upward but as a dense mass the whole thing was held together around the edges by some sticks and string, the plants doing the work of holding each other up.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Flowers like this grow very easily, attracting lots of pollinators and continually producing blooms perfect for vases. I have developed a recent affinity for simple vases full of bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus). And with so many of each type of flower you’re not left hovering over the garden waiting to pounce on that single bud before a greedy passerby gets it.

Yeah, in hindsight a garden like this may have been a less traumatic choice for the street garden.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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23 thoughts on “Wild Front Garden

  1. Wow, Gayla, that garden is just beautiful!

    If I had a yard, I’d probably want to devote my space to growing food too instead of flowers, but I also appreciate the people who just do that cultivated wildness thing with their flower beds. It’s very laissez-faire!

    Great photos too!


  2. Beautiful! We have a wildflower project here that turns miles of previously barren highway medians into shows of color like this. Always makes me smile.

    I would love to have a wildflower front yard, but I’m married to a lawn-loving Texan. I let him have his lawn, and the mowing chores too ;)

  3. I have a space in the back of my house that I will not use for food due to the past storage of car batteries, etc, by a previous tenant. I might do something like this instead of the more labour-intensive plants I have there now. I wonder if it’s too late to start for this year?

  4. I think you can still get away with flowers like calendula, pansies, snapdragons, and bachelor’s buttons. It’s too late for poppies but you can sow those in the fall for next year.

  5. Everytime I see something like this, I end up wishing for more space…and wondering, “Could I fit this in that TIIINY corner of my raised bed?”

  6. I like gardens like this in places where you wouldn’t want to eat the food because of questionable soil or passerbyes. I did something like this one summer a long my house with a wild flower kit and it was super easy. Much better then grass!

  7. You know, on the one hand, gardens like that are very laissez-faire as Porsha said, but on the other hand, it is pretty gutsy. Especially in a neighborhood with very cultivated front yards, the neighbors could give you a lot of flack for not following suit.

  8. the only thing out of place are those two conical evergreens(ceders ?)otherwise it’s gorgeous.my garden is very unmanicured but not a wildflower meadow as of yet.

  9. I think it’s an excellent in-front-of-the-house idea for a garden! Always looks great, minimal effort, don’t have to worry about people stealing your vegetables…

    If I ever own a house (or even just have access to a front garden) I’ll definitely consider something like this.

  10. Hey Gayla,

    Come see my front yard flower garden… and the rest of my neighbour’s gardens too.

    I’ve only recently (this year) planted veggies in my front yard… ringing my stone paths with various peppers. My front grass/lawn is now about the size of a postage stamp.


  11. I had an old speaker cabinet that I used as a container (anything goes, right?). I took some soil, threw in some ‘butterfly garden’ seeds, and it currently rewards me with new blooms every other day or so. It’s like a chameleon in a container, much like the garden you have pictured here.

  12. those are so beautiful. I love wildflowers. they make every gardener feel brilliant when they start popping those colors all over.

  13. First-time-commenter here! I was really struck by this post because I’ve been contemplating the same thing, turning my front yard into a wildflower garden! So far I have two rows of daylilies down the sides, and my next move will be a row of black-eyed susans (our state flower) across the top. I’m hoping our local nursery will help me fill in the rest, and that by next summer I’ll have a lovely wild front garden! I wouldn’t grow vegetables due to a fair amount of college-student foot traffic, but I think the flowers will be lovely.

  14. It just goes to show you, you can plant in anything you want. A shopping cart what a great idea.

  15. I’m sorry if I sound daft, but how would one do this? I’m thinking for the boulevard space between our sidewalk and the street. There is grass there now. Would I have to dig up the grass and buy flowers to plant? Or could I just sprinkle a wildflower mix in the spring?

  16. Another beauty of this is that although they are annuals, they are all self-sowing and if you just mulch it down every fall, all those flowers will re-seed themselves and grow again for next year.

  17. if i want to do this to part of my very large yard, do i need to til it ? and do the seeds just mix with the grass (which there isnt much tall growing type of grass there). when is the best time to put seeds out like this winter or spring. i am in north mississippi.

  18. Mary: You will need to remove the sod. The time to sow depends on what’s in the mix. If you buy a mix suitable to your area it will tell you on the packet. Some seeds require the cold season to get going in the spring.

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