A week later, my meadow is blooming!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This morning I saw that two of my Elliott's love grass are beginning to bloom.  Some of you may wonder about my interest in this new type of gardening.  It actually began during the coldest weekend last January, when I was curled up under a warm blanket with my two dogs at my side.  I had recently purchased a book titled: "The American Meadow Garden, Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn" by John Greenlee.  After 37 years of working in horticulture in South Florida and gardening since the age of seven, a whole new way of gardening has become a new interest of mine.  I quote from Greenlee's preface: "Why create meadows?  For me, the reasons are many.  Meadows are far more satisfying than either a lawn or traditional border, combining the best attributes of both: like a lawn, a calming place for the eye to rest, yet with the richness and complexity of a border.  Unlike lawns, meadows are better for the environment, a safe habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators, a place where native ecology can thrive.  Meadows, by attracting a diverstiy of "life," are animated, alive with rhythmic movement, catching both wind and light.  No lawn can do that. And - properly designed - meadows require less maintenance and consume significantly less resources than lawn or border."

 I've loaned this book to a couple friends and dicussed the idea of meadow gardens with knowledgeable gardeners.  I've met some resistance to the idea - weeds might be a major problem, our subtropical climate is different than where most of the meadow gardens in Greenlee's book are located.  So, I am in the process of trying to do it myself, in my own yard.  It is a bit of an experiment and I am looking forward to the days and weeks ahead as my own plantings get established and perhaps weeds do too!

 I've already seen the "movement" in my meadow garden with the breezes blowing the blue-green leaves of the love grass.  I love it!  A new dimension in gardening - color, smell, textures, and now movement.  I planted the grasses a bit closer that normal to get maximum coverage and hopefully shade out and cover areas where weeds might try to grow.  I still need to transplant some other wildflowers from other parts of my yard, including Crotalaria pumila and Ocimum campechianum (wild basil), both natives to South Florida pine rocklands.  My newly planted meadow garden is still getting established and nearly every afternoon, I've been watering the plants with my irrigation system - me holding a hose!  I am amazed at how fast the grasses have grown and it won't be long before they are on the own - our summer rains will begin soon and the roots of the plants in my garden will have grown into the surrounding soil enough to not need 'manmade' irrigation.