Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Go Green? Rainbow is Better!

Easy Meadow Mix Early
(Image copyright Tammy Clayton 2003)

I always thought that a meadow planted with waves of different blooming perennials would be lovely. That is how Mother Nature clothes the Earth … in sweeps and drifts that grow and spread in the directions the wind and rain sends them. Never in a matched size row, more of a free-formed waft with the older tallest members toward the center and the height diminishes with the youngest beings at the ends. Just like the ocean, where waves rise and fall, a meadow will have high points and low points and change constantly over the days of summer.

One fall, I decided to feed the birds by not deadheading, as I normally would have. The result of this was the discovery of three common garden plants that would lend themselves perfectly to this kind of planting. This created a living bouquet that changed color and shape with the turning of the summer weeks. Left unchecked, the entire area became the most vibrant tangle of bloom power.

The combination of tall Daisies, Purple Coneflower, and Black-eyed Susan will bring a pleasant view from early summer into fall. The daisies start blooming first in late May to early June, depending on your growing zone. Crisp white then intertwines with purple as the Coneflowers begin blooming a few weeks later. When the daisies finish the early flowering period, sunny Black-eyed Susan begins mingling their bold faces with the purple of the Coneflowers. When does the show stop? Black-eyed Susan (also known as Brown Betty) will throw color into early fall. All of these will happily dwell in full sun and low to moderate moisture situations. Many times, the Daisies will put forth a light second bloom in early fall when the weather cools off. This gift will dust the golden Black-eyed Susan display with a smattering of cooling white.

Easy Meadow Mix Late
(Image copyright Tammy Clayton 2004)

All three of these long blooming, hardworking timeless perennials will work well in a rather dry situation once established. These lovely garden staple plants will freely self-sow freely, allowing the planting to thicken and naturalize your wave patterns by blurring the edges over time. These three long blooming meadow dwellers are perennial plants. But why stop here? There are more choices to be had at the candy store!

The addition of spring color would be most welcome to this simple planting scheme. I would use annual wildflower Red Poppies for this early session of flowering, the most beautiful of all wildflowers. This particular poppy variety is sometimes called “Shirley Poppy” or “Flanders Poppy” which is why the American Legion hands them out by the millions near Memorial Day. The appearance of the Red Poppy will be one you will look forward to as each winter ends. These will fade completely from view once the rest of the plants start their seasonal display. Poppies prefer dry feet and bright sunny exposure to perform at their best.

There are many other wildflower plants, both annual and perennial, that will put forth their loveliest face in a meadow planting where little maintenance and low to average water is required. As to how many times a year you need to mow your meadow? Is one time a year an acceptable amount of times to have to perform this chore? In the late fall, after the first frost, you will want to mow to disperse the seeds for next years meadow make-over as well as clean up the brushy appearance that will remain when nature goes to sleep.

What will be there over the cold season? Sweet memories of summer, a treasure that the future holds and will repeat. If everything were constantly in plain sight, what would you have to anticipate? The magic of flowers would dim swiftly if they were always there and never changing. Like beloved old friends, one looks forward to their yearly visit with much excitement. Some of them stay a day or two, others my actually drop by for a couple of weeks once a year. Some will visit a couple of times a year with a spell of absence between. No matter how fleeting their visit, it is something we relish and look forward to repeating for years on end.

1 comment:

Perennial Gardener said...

Gorgeous colors in that meadow mix. Nature loves to splash all the colors together in the wild while we aim for pleasing color combinations.