In Spring I did a couple of posts, “Going Back to Grass“, and “Grass Alternative – The Medieval Mead“, one very good post for those gardeners facing continual drought or looking to pare down large gardens in part due to climate and/or hectic lifestyles, and the other a way to deal with or design around turf lawn. Both showed some great examples of how to deal with turf grass in a pleasing and ecologically sound way. It is just getting creative with plant materials, even turf grass. I would suggest you have a read.
I returned to Chanticleer this August…
and took a look at the same areas shown in the earlier post, “Going Back to Grass” to see how that beautiful example of Prairie Dropseed was doing. It was looking rather tired due to lack of rain, but in it I found they had planted pink-flowering Lycoris bulbs in the gently bending grass. The term “Tinkering With Grass” was penned by author Anna Pavord, author of Bulb and The Tulip.
There is no tinkering with the soil, no border creation, no annual wildflower meadow created year after year, it is all done with existing grass turf, especially turf that has been around for a while collecting wild borne clover and Rudbeckia.
What is wonderful about this type of lawn is a couple of late season mowings makes it spring-ready for the naturalized crocus, bluebells, and narcissus.
And… anything you might add like primrose, Astilbe, myosotis, Camassia, iris ‘Yellow Flag’ and the list goes on. Bulbs are left to die back naturally in the tall, quickly growing grass. The key is having a rather anemic looking lawn with thin grass. You should not plant the bulbs in thick turf grass.
I also found a meadow planted right outside the rear of the mansion, adjacent to the very formal swimming pool gardens. I really was not expecting to see that meadow there, but hey, why not, it looked great. You can see Gaura, Verbena bonariensis, and Queen Anne’s Lace among other wildflowers above. It is quite the contrast to all the formality surrounding the mansion.
Another thing of interest at Longwood Gardens… look past the Mandevilla at the grass steps. Not an easy grass application to maintain, but it is a way to add interest through grading to a lawn.
Wind swept grass on a late summer day… it really lets one know the seasons are soon to change. Too bad this day was 95°. The grass and plants were begging for rain.