An Evolving October Wildflower Meadow

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My gardens have always been a mix of natives and non-natives. I have found it best to go with what will grow and try to make it into a pleasing design of some sort. Fall in east Tennessee is when the roadsides, fields and meadows explode in jaunty juxtapositions of color, texture and form. Asters and grasses, among others,  join the fall foliage to present quite the grand finale of the growing season.

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In this new, as of fall of 2014, garden the method to achieve the vision has been to simply allow the former lawn, mostly crabgrass, to grow of its own accord, not mowing at all. The first year the sparse lawn grass grew tall and flowered. There were some wildflowers that sprung up, mostly fleabanes, goldenrods and asters. These plants shaded out most of the crabgrass and the front lawn/meadow was born. Unwanteds like the wild blackberries, tree seedlings and large crabgrass looking stuff were dug out. Desirables were and continue to be added, like our beloved dogwoods, Cornus florida,  with clumps of lawn grass dug out to make room for the additions.

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I really find the aesthetics of wildflowers/meadows/natural looking plantings most attractive. Those are also easier to maintain, less labor intensive than formal, rigid designs. That style is the vision for this new garden. There are still garden beds where I can play, but the majority of this yard is of the relaxed, see what will pop up type.

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In the back gardens, it was noticed that along the newly replaced wooden fence, a pretty grass was growing. It was identified by my dear friend Gail of Clay and Limestone, whose Wildflower Wednesday meme this post joins, as broom sedge, Andropogon viginicus. I love it, but have to watch out for seedlings all over. There also appeared a relatively shorter Solidago ssp. that is still unidentified. A few tall white asters are allowed for some color contrast.  The native grass Muhlenbergia lindheimeri was added and has done well.  It will be divided and spread as it grows large enough to do so.

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In the two nursery beds in back that were created with yards of imported soil mix dumped and spread about, natives and favorite exotics were added by the hand of the gardener. Spigelia marilandica has grown better than it ever did at the old garden. I didn’t even know it had a lovely golden fall color before now, it had always gone dormant in the dry summer.  Gardening is learning.

The gardens will continue to evolve, with and without my intervention. Each season of each new year is different. I will wallow joyously in them.


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15 Responses to An Evolving October Wildflower Meadow

  1. I love your garden! So excited that you are sharing your wildflowers with us for Wildflower Wednesday. Love that grass, you shared some with me a few years ago and it’s doing beautifully. Yes, I have noticed it likes to set seed! The more the merrier! Happy WW, my dear. xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thank you for hosting this lovely meme. You are the standard bearer for planting natives and wildflowers and letting them stand to help feed and shelter the pollinators. Glad to hear the broom sedge is happy in your lovely garden, too. I transplant the seedlings to the meadow in late fall/winter, whenever the ground is moist. xoxoxo

  2. Summer Daisy says:

    Awe Such beauty ♥


  3. I would love to let the whole back lawn here revert back to meadow, but other residents find it has value as a soccer field, so for now I am outvoted. Can it really be your new garden is two years old already?

    I understand that we sometimes have to take into consideration the other uses a lawn might have. There might be a putting green in the back yard for that very reason. HA Yes, two years old, but still quite immature.

  4. Barbara H. says:

    Your first picture is absolute perfection. Is that from your yard? I’d love to see a longer view of both the front and back. I always love what you do, Frances. You are an inspiration.

    Thanks so much Barbara, for your continuing support. I do appreciate you! The first two photos are from the front/side yard, in between ours and the neighbor’s house. I am sure they were skeptical when we didn’t continue to just mow the area the first year. They have gotten used to it now. There might be longer views in some of the other posts since we moved to this garden. There is a slope that makes it difficult to get the back part from the street. I plan to write more about the creation of the lawn/meadow later.

  5. Linda T. says:

    I have broom sedge here but I am much farther south than you and it doesn’t spread at my place. I l love it!!!!

    Good to hear, Linda. The plants of the broom sedge stay in polite clumps, but the seeds travel all over the place. I now can identify them from the other grasses and move them to the meadow.

  6. Dee says:

    “Gardening is learning.” Isn’t that the truth? I’m always surprised and always learning, one plant, one hole at a time. Loved seeing this Miss Faire.

    One plant, one hole at a time, I like that! Thanks for visiting, dear Dee.

  7. Hi Frances, I enjoyed your photos and thoughts about gardening. Like you, I have a mix of natives and non-natives, and each year, I decide what non-natives I want to replace with natives. Our yard is not big, and there is very little lawn left. It is where a sidewalk would be, so it needs to stay. I took a break from reading this because I am listening to a local gardening show on the radio, where they are talking to the people who tend to a formal local public garden with mostly annuals, that they plant in big fancy patterns. I did not want to call into the show, but did express my view on it on their Facebook page after hearing them say their seeds come from out of the country. 😦

    Hi Sue, thanks for visiting. It is often hard to not respond to gardening shows, I think a comment on facebook is a good way to help educate the growing public. Most neighborhoods around us are all lawn with a few foundation shrubs put in by the builders. Changing the way folks think about gardening is an uphill battle, but worth the effort.

  8. Dee quotes the same thought I took away from your lovely post, Frances. Gardening is learning. And the more I garden, the more the garden teaches me – including pointing out all the things I still need to learn. Fortunately, like most gardeners, I love learning. Happy Wildflower Wednesday, and every other day of the week!

    Hi Helen, so nice to have you visit! There is much to learn, good thing it is so fun!

  9. P.S. When you have a moment, would you mind updating the address for our blog in your blogroll? We’ve moved from Blogspot and now use a custom URL: TorontoGardens[dot]com


  10. Each new season of each new year is different, indeed. Well said. Your words, throughout, wring true.

    Hi Beth, thanks for your kind words.

  11. Marguerite says:

    so lovely, Frances. I especially love the blues/greys in that first photo. Happy Autumn!

    Hi Marguerite, thanks so much and Happy Autumn back to you.

  12. Your garden is coming along beautifully. I love that Indian Pink. I would like to try it here. I will look for it. I am so happy that you feel joyful regarding your new garden. I know it must have been difficult to move from your old one. Gardens do teach us many lessons.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. The Spigelia was a lucky find, a nice large specimen at one of the better local nurseries. I have not seen it there since and wish I had bought more. Isn’t that always the way of it? 2014 was a hard year in many ways. Things are getting better now.

  13. Rose says:

    That first photo is a vision of loveliness, Frances! I so enjoy seeing your garden as it evolves, and I always come away with some nugget of wisdom from you. I am finally learning, too, to learn from the garden and go with the flow more–often the prettiest vignettes in my garden are happy accidents or nature’s plantings, not any careful plan of my own. I will have to check out my Indian Pinks–I didn’t know they turned color in the fall either!

    Hi Rose, thanks for your support! Nature will always be the best gardener. We can learn from her if we open our eyes. I am glad to hear your garden is giving you some pretties!

  14. Deborah says:

    I love the wildflowers and grass along the fence!

    Hi Deborah, thanks for stopping by. The wildflowers are really putting on a show right now, even with the severe drought we are having. It just goes to show that the natives are best at dealing with the climate extremes.

  15. Your new-ish garden is starting to look like your old garden! Now it has the Frances touch.

    You are too sweet, Robin, thanks for the kind words!

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