The meadow has been a long-lasting gardening “trend” that many have rushed to adopt. But most places can seem more wild than curated. Owned by Jay Safford, an award-winning designer from North Carolina, this garden shows how a landscape can incorporate all the good attributes of an herb garden (pollinator-friendly, inclusion of native plants, low-impact creation). While less desirable attributes can be improved. dirty, a season of appeal, no room for human interaction).
In this video, Jay explains why he chose to design a herb garden in the first place. He explains the location of the soon-to-be garden and how it influenced its design.
While traditional grassland is largely planted along a flat plane (similar to a prairie), Jay’s grassland is laid out in a bowl-like fashion. This was partly due to the topographical challenges posed by the site work, but also because of the desire to make the meadow a place where people could embrace the garden. Here are some of the steps Jay took in creating this garden:
Step 1: Install roadside berms.
This mound helped prevent water from flowing across the road and septic field. It also provided a greater degree of privacy and provided better drainage for the conifers and grasses planted near the road. The overall bowl shape of the new garden serves as a nurturing space, allowing the seating area in the center to resemble a stage in an amphitheater. The eye is deliberately led downward (by paths of gravel and mulch—sometimes the plants twist to avoid falling), giving the space a “maze” vibe. All of this is designed to slow down garden visitors. Once you sit in the low Adirondacks, however, your eye is drawn skyward to the trees and vertical grass as the eye follows the contours.
Step 2: Plant selected species in rhythmic patterns.
People look for simplicity in patterns. So, Jay started designing the meadow by creating prominent shapes. A grouping, or motif, may consist of, for example, 150 ornamental grasses, but the human brain reads the grouping as one unit, not the 150 individual units. Selected plants need to provide at least two of the following three attributes: texture, seasonal appeal, and/or pollinator friendliness. There is a mix of native and non-native plants.
Step 3: Make sure there are four seasons of interest.
A particularly vexing problem with traditional meadows in the winter, they don’t look much. This presents aesthetic problems for the home gardener who wants the landscape to look good, even in the off-season. Jay’s meadow is located in front of his house. Very prominent location) and, thanks to the house’s large glass windows, there is always a direct view of the meadow, even in winter. Jay does several things to ensure 12 months of interest. He leaves the ornamental grasses until early March to watch them dance vibrantly in the wind. He planted many unconventional meadow garden plants such as conifers and other evergreens. And finally, he ensured that the overall layout of the beds and the hardscape provided a strong silhouette. So, even when most of the plant material has died back, the outline remains constant.
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