Do you have an urban meadow?
Conventional design has had a long separation from plant to plant, with bare earth between. New naturalism changes that dynamic with plants filling entire properties in various ways, but creating meadows being quite popular.
Urban meadows can’t really replicate the density of natural plant habitats, yet this full, loose garden effect does make many people smile and get the impression of a flower filled meadow. Others might cringe in imagining the work involved. Some might get OCD at the perceived unruliness.
Meadows are a desired garden type, especially for those with anti-lawn sentiments and a great concern for diminishing pollinators. The other day I had a friend over and she could not get over all the bees in my garden. I told her my garden is bee heaven. And why?
Self-sowing is a crucial part of this new naturalism, but this style of gardening depends greatly on understanding plants, their habits and their pollinators. While I depend quite a bit on self-sowing plants, dealing with accidental weed seed in the mix can be quite a pain. This year has been the “year of the WEED”.
The photos in this post are images throughout the growing season, so you will see my urban “meadow” in various stages. I have a few images of the garden at the beginning of the month, below.
You might know I don’t consider it really an urban meadow. I propose they are not something we can make in the real sense of the word, but we do it for pollinators just the same. So how do I create my “meadow”?
In my garden, I don’t step the plants by height as you probably noticed. It is far more natural looking with interspersed plants of varying height, where the sunlight filters through the taller plants. Habitat and conditional compatibility is paramount choosing plants that suit the area, yet work well in a community. Many of the perennials chosen for my garden are based on their loose, natural feel. Some like the lilies, daylilies and Delphinium are pretty much plants that carry color through the summer, but most others are chosen for the benefit of pollinators.
Rhythm is important to this type of gardening, but not strict repetition. I repeat plants but not in even increments. The rhythm comes in movement of the plants and how the plants relate to one another. As beautiful and free as nature – to making a garden sympathetic to natural schemes, there is always a negative to every positive.
Unfortunately what started as a way to bring wildlife to the garden, can slowly shift into low gear if it becomes too much garden!! If there is such a thing for diehard gardeners.
Garden maintenance and when making additional gardens, one has to seriously think about long-term care. What can you handle? Health issues may surface preventing tending so many, heavily planted gardens. My health has limited some time spent in the garden.
Keeping the “meadow” contained and cared for has a lot to do with the shrubs. For a city garden it is important to keep the neighbors happy by keeping the flowers tidy, especially those native flowers which can get rather unruly and untidy rather quickly. It does not take long for a plant like goldenrod, carex, myosotis or evening primrose to get out of hand for example.
I am surprised to see home gardeners digging up more and more property and wonder if they do consider the work that lies ahead in dividing, separating and cutting back?
Most gardeners actually enjoy tasks like pruning, deadheading, hand-watering, weeding, and inspecting the plants daily, but as gardeners age, these activities start feeling a lot more like work. The more and more new garden beds only compounds the work.
It is a great consideration when packing in the plants with limited square footage.
Have you felt like some days you just have too much garden?
I am lucky because my garden square footage is small, yet at times the number of plants has become overwhelming.
I am planning on attending a talk in a few days on biennials and self-sowers since I depend on them in my garden and talk about them frequently on this blog. As you know, these two plant types can get very garden frisky, so I am hoping for a few new pointers on control. When I get back in a week, I will have a post shortly after from this seminar. Stay tuned. But in the meantime while I am away, I have a post on the legacy prairie of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens at the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. You will see a lot more brown and less flowers at this time of year (June 10) in the meadows.