the years as I've watched the development of manmade meadows, one of
the things that has struck me most is the ever-changing display of
color I've seen from month to month throughout the season. Because of
its diversity, a meadow will never look the same. I've been following
one manmade wildflower meadow through each season and in late spring
white blooms of Canada anemone appear, quickly followed by baptisia
with its blue flower spikes, golden flowers of coreopsis, and the
familiar oxeye daisy. In summer the meadow becomes home to
butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees attracted to the garden by
butterfly weed, monarda, coneflower, blazing stars, and lilies. The
finale to the season is a display of pastel colors from New England
aster and the bright blooms of goldenrod.
The concept of planting a wildflower meadow garden in the home
landscape is an idea that is catching on. It's possible to create
your own wildflower meadow garden - from small to large - at home and
some people plant meadows as an alternative to lawn on parts of their property.
All successful wildflower meadow gardens start with careful planning
and preparation. In fact, the single most important part is site
preparation. The goal is to create a seedbed or planting area that is
as weed-free as possible to reduce competition. Dormant weed seeds
buried in the ground remain viable for years and when the soil is
cultivated these weed seeds may sprout in large numbers. There are
several ways wildflower experts recommend to prepare the site, but
all involve eliminating any existing turfgrass or undesirable vegetation.
The first way does not involve herbicide, but is also the most labor
intensive and requires the most amount of time. This method is the
one to use if there a wetland or other sensitive area nearby or if
you don't want to use an herbicide. With this preparation method the
soil is turned regularly throughout the season beginning in spring.
Each time the soil is turned, either by rototiller or tractor plow,
weed seeds and roots are exposed and killed. Then the site is left
alone to let the new weeds grow. Next, the area is cultivated again,
turning under the weed seedlings. (This should be done before the
weeds bloom and set seed.) The process is repeated as needed
throughout the season, possibly a half dozen times or so. Depending
on how bad the weed condition is, it may be necessary to do the
cultivation process again the second year. The final step before
planting is to rake the site to create a smooth seedbed.
Once the site for the wildflower meadow garden is prepared, the next
step is to select wildflowers appropriate for the site, whether it's
a dry meadow or a moist meadow. Also, consider design elements such
as color, height, bloom sequence, and patterns. A wildflower meadow
garden can be planted by seed, with transplants, or a combination of
both. Generally, spring or fall are the best times for planting.
Containerized plants can be planted at any time during the growing
season if watered during dry periods.