Several months ago, the Meadow Committee asked Larry Conrad from Mulch Solutions to stop by the meadow and basically reassure us that we would indeed have flowers and grasses this year. He had graciously re-seeded earlier in the year, but all we could see were the dead cuttings and some unidentifiable green things. To us, the landscape fabric we had put down the year before looked like it would suffocate anything that tried to grow this year.
The day he joined us, there were lots of little sprouts, some Bermuda grass, and some interlopers visible, but he urged us not to wander around in there trying to make it perfect. We’d only trample the little things trying to get established. Have patience, he counseled. It was hard for us to obey. The gardeners in us wanted to wade in there and start pulling “weeds”!
In order to stack the deck in our favor, we added an irrigation system of hoses and sprinklers this year. Last year, our fledgling effort got baked to death and we wanted to avoid a repeat of that heart break. So the hoses were laid, the sprinklers set up, and a timer was set. Once the grasses got going, we put the sprinklers up on legs so they could actually disburse the water without the grass impeding the spray.
And voila! Thanks to regular irrigation and an amazing Spring, not only do we now have flowers and grasses, but we have some very interesting immigrants. Heaven knows how we got cosmos – they certainly weren’t on our seed list – but we have several colors of them and they look delightful. We also have a few giant mullein that seem quite at home. There is an impressive swath of Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) that was supposed to be 3% of our seed mixture, and some brilliant red Monarda that I know we didn’t pay for. There might be some Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), but I won’t know for sure until I see blooms. For now, everything is being welcomed. We’ll decide in the Fall how we want to tweak the mix. In the meantime, a visit and close inspection every week should reveal more surprises.
A few intrepid Club members visited Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in the Spring and brought back some wonderful plants that the staff there was anxious to cull from their own meadow. We benefited from their desire to thin their over-zealous residents, which Club members planted on the side near the road. Then in early June, a few of us removed the “monster grass” that had grown for the second year in a humongous clump near the library. It was about 8 feet tall and at least as wide. In the Fall we will probably divide some of the perennials in the garden along the walk and transplant them to the empty spot. For now, it’s just tempting soil for “illegal aliens.” We have also been invited back to Meadowlark to dig more of the wonderful meadow residents that are doing so well over there.
Of course, the library meadow is also being visited by several types of butterflies and other winged critters, along with local deer who are nibbling flower buds along the edges. I haven’t personally seen any bees yet, but I imagine they’ve been on site. How could they resist?
As things appear, we will take note and begin preparing a “white paper” on the glories of our meadow. We’ll include photos as well as information on each plant so that visitors to the library will know what’s going on out there. We’ve been told that it takes at least three years to establish a meadow, but I have to say I can’t stop smiling already. We might as well consider this year one, since last year was such a disaster, and already the meadow is fabulous. What an improvement over that grass-filled storm water retention pond! And how nice for the pollinators. Just imagine how it will improve through the years as flowers self-seed and we add plants from the perennial garden and Meadowlark.
As always, stay tuned! Better yet, stop by for a look. It will make you smile, too.