It is time to start planting my meadow garden

Monday, April 26, 2010

As some of you may remember, if you read my article that appeared in the Miami Herald, I said that my next gardening project will be a meadow garden.  Well, I purchased some meadow plants at last weekend's Spring Plant Sale, the ground is nice and wet from 3 1/2 inches of rain today, and I plan to start planting soon.  Here are some of the plants I will be using:

Scutellaria havanensis  (Havana scullcap) - 1 (may divide this)

Heliotropium polyphyllum  (pineland heliotrope) - 2

Croton linearis  (pineland croton) - 1 (a female so I can get seedlings)

Glandularia maritima  (beach verbena) - 1

Sorghastrum secundum (lopsided Indiangrass) - 5

Schizachyrium rhizomatum  (rhizomatus bluestem) - 3 large ones to be divided into many

 I will also dig some divisions of my Pityopsis graminifolia (silkgrass) and some Crotalaria pumila that is growing in my palm and grass savannah.  I just found a source of Eragrostis elliottii (Elliott's lovegrass) and plan on using lots of this shorter grass.

I have two planting beds in which I will be placing the plants.  One is a circular shaped bed with a Guaiacum sanctum  (lignum vitae) in the center.  I want to plant mostly Elliott's lovegrass in this area.  The other bed is larger and more amenable to have more variety of plants.  I will take photos of each step of the planning and planting process and post the progress on this blog.  My one fear is that of invading weeds, especially during our warm wet summers.  I hope that my experiences will encourage others to make their own meadow gardens, replacing some of their lawns and providing butterfly plants to encourage and sustain our wildlife.

Speaking of sustaining wildlife, earlier this year I read the book "Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy.  I really enjoyed and learned a lot about the importance of using native plants within your landscape in order to provide food and shelter for a whole host of organisms (butterfles, birds, other insects, etc.) that are dependent on the native plants for their very survival.  It is an amazing web of "life" that develops within a native ecosystem - plants are "controlled" by the insects to prevent overwhelming the habitat, while the birds and other predators feed on the native insects that are feeding (not destructively) on the native plants.  It is perfection - the plants stay under control and so do the predators.