I may have mentioned this idea before, but just go with me, all right?
I periodically “despair” when I wander through the pecan plantation, the acre of open land below the dam. I have planted fifty pecan trees down there, and replanted about that many over the years. Only a handful, maybe ten, are what I would consider successful. Pecans are slow growing trees, but many of mine, excluding the ones that have simply died outright, seem to think they should start over completely each year. They die off to the ground each winter and send up fresh leaves at their base in the spring.
There are the other ten, of course, some of which are now nearly four feet tall and branching nicely. They are scattered where the soil is good and/or the water is reliable. But my fantasy of having a cathedral stand of towering pecans to stroll under doesn’t look likely.
So I have this other idea for the plantation. I’m thinking of trying to make it a wildflower meadow. We see the most wildflowers down in this open acre, but they are generally just single specimens, not a multi-colored blanket of flowers that dazzle they eyes.
I blame this idea on my recent trip to Eugene, Oregon and especially the campus of the University of Oregon. The flower beds there are done in wildflowers. They are colorful, diverse displays.
Of course, I don’t have the budget of the University of Oregon. Or the staff. Or the rainfall. Or even the soil. But I’ve begin looking into wildflower seeds; unfortunately, these things don’t come cheap. A pound of Missouri wildflower seeds would cost me anywhere from $75 to $90, and one site I visited online suggested that seeding is best done with eight to nine pounds per acre. I’m not strong in math, but I can do that much cipherin’. I suppose most of the cost is in the collection process. Done by hand by real people in field conditions and all that.
Compounding the problem is that the ground is not properly prepared, at least according to the seeding instructions I have read. The various grasses there (that have done well in all but the rockiest areas) have spread a thick carpeting across the ground. This is supposed to be mown and raked away or burn to the ground before seeding. Otherwise the seeds I would sow would simply rest on the fallen grasses and never germinate.
I’ve thought about getting potted wildflower plants and plugging them in the ground here and there, but there are comparably expensive, and because of my infrequent visits, I can’t guarantee that they’ll get watered sufficiently to get established.
My attempt at seeding Libby’s Island with wildflowers has not yet proven to be a success. It may still be a bit early to expect the many seeds we scattered there to make a showing yet, of course, but the soil there is better than in the pecan plantation.
I suppose I should try to collect seeds myself. This will take a little research and a lot of effort, but maybe in small steps I can get myself to where I want to be.