Appling resident Nancy Wall was inspired by the dazzling colors of wildflowers adorning roadways while traveling six years ago.
"We had some extra space, and Nancy encouraged me to plant some wildflowers after seeing some of the wildflowers along the highway," says her husband, Jim Wall, city attorney for Augusta.
Mr. Wall grows the flowers in two meadows on their 43-acre property along Yelton Road. One of the meadows is behind their home, along the shore of their 16-acre pond, and they planted a second 1-acre meadow in a large field alongside their driveway.
Mrs. Wall, an education coordinator with Brandon Wilde, uses the flowers her husband grows in arrangements and presses some to decorate wedding invitations. She compares the small blooms on the flowers to a Claude Monet painting. One of the small flowers alone isn't much to look at, she says, but together they create a masterpiece.
"I get really excited when I come out here in the springtime and all of a sudden things are starting to show color," she says.
The Walls, who are members of the Wildflower Club of the CSRA, have selected a mix of flowers that will give them blooms until October. The red poppies, white ox-eye daisies, violet sweet Williams, baby blue eyes and five spot, which have a purple dot on the ends of their white petals, are all blooming now, but as the months change so do the colors of the garden. By the end of summer the meadows will be fields of yellow.
"This is the first blush that is coming up now," Mrs. Wall says. "In two weeks you can come out here,and the garden will be a totally different color."
Fred Kennedy, president of the Wildflower and Beautification Trust Fund, says the wildflowers along highways are creating a growing interest in wildflowers among home gardeners.
His organization consists of local residents who raise money to fund wildflower projects on public lands in Augusta and surrounding areas. They raise several thousand dollars each year and buy wildflower seeds and equipment to plant the seeds and donate them to the Georgia Department of Transportation and the city Parks and Landscape Department.
Motorists traveling River Watch Parkway are beneficiaries of these wildflower projects. Ox-eye daisies, poppies and several other varieties of wildflowers were planted in 1992 on 17 acres along the parkway, stretching from 15th Street to the Columbia County line.
Barry Smith, director of the city Parks and Landscape Department, says the flowers were planted to reduce the cost of mowing along the parkway, but the flowers also add to the beauty of the road's vista.
"The value is motorist enjoyment and the value of reducing some of our maintenance cost," says Mr. Smith.
He says that wildflowers cause some weed problems and look a little ratty when the blooms begin dying off in the fall but that they are worth the trouble.
"I would rather look at wildflowers than grass," he says.
For homeowners who want to create their own wildflower meadows, Mrs. Wall says wildflowers aren't as easy to grow as you might think. A lot of ground preparation must be done ahead of time, beginning with tilling.
"They like a well prepared seed bed," says Charles Phillips, extension agent with the Columbia County office of the University of Georgia Extension Service.
Mr. Phillips suggests planting wildflowers in late fall and winter in loose, well-drained soil that has a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0. Weeds can be a problem if you use too much fertilizer, and mowing the meadow once each fall is the only maintenance wildflowers demand.