Thursday, August 15, 2013

Creating meadow magic

Every other year, local volunteers organize the Joy Garden Tour to benefit the Village Green, a 12-acre park in the heart of Cashiers, North Carolina.

In 2011, I waited too long and the event was sold out. This year I bought my ticket right away and joined 1200 other enthusiasts who traveled from at least a dozen states to view several private gardens in the area.

Of course, the homes were quite spectacular and there were many attractive gardens displaying a combination of native plantings and seasonal ornamentals. However, it was the meadow at the Morse home that was highlight of the tour for me.

You enter the front door and walk straight through the house to a flagstone terrace where you are treated to a spectacular view of Whiteside Mountain. 

The cliffs there are the highest in eastern North America, rising to an elevation of 4,930 feet. That view is amazing enough, but there is also a carpet of wildflowers at your feet that seems to go on for miles.

The meadow and other gardens on the property were designed by Jeremy Smearman of Planters Landscape. He and his associates have been working on just the right combination of plants for the meadow and this year everything has come together to create a most memorable vista.

As you can see from the photos, Echinacea purpurea is the dominant plant in the landscape right now, along with Liatris and Bishop's Flower.  This scenario can change depending on the time of year, so the folks at Planters were kind enough to share  the rest of their wildflower list with us:

Bishop’s Flower
Black-eyed Susan
Cornflower/Bachelor’s Button
Dense Blazing Star
Ox-eyed Daisy
Red Corn Poppy/Flanders Poppy
Tickseed/Lance-leaved Coreopsis
According to Planters Regional Manager Bo Gambrell, it takes three seasons to establish a healthy wildflower meadow. “The main reason being that you will only get 60-70% germination each time you seed and each meadow has its own needs. The first thing you should do is get a soil sample and find out what your soil is lacking in nutrients. Then, order three times as much seed as you need and store the leftover seed to broadcast each spring. Most of the time you will want to mix some sand with your seed when using a spreader to help spread the different sized seeds evenly. If you have raw soil, you should also mix in a little bit of creeping red fescue grass seed on the first application.”

After that, further seeding should be unnecessary as long as the meadow is doing well, although you might have to replenish some areas if flowers are thinning. Aside from that, as long as the meadow gets enough water each year, you need only mow it and cut down volunteer tree saplings.

I have a small slope I’d like to dress up with some wildflowers. Now after seeing the work done at Morse Meadow, I have some beautiful ideas growing in my head.


Christopher C. NC said...

Looks great. I would be interested to know their installation procedure and maintenance routine for this meadow. Surely it can't be hand weeding like I do.

Rose Petals Nursery said...


Lynn Hunt said...

Christopher, I've asked them for more details about care, length of time to establish and so forth. Will update the posting when I hear back. Your mountain meadow is amazing, too!

Lynn Hunt said...

Thank you Cydney!

Les said...

I enlarged your photo to get a broader view, and wow, what a spectacular garden. I can't imagine being able to see that meadow, and that mountain from my home.

Lynn Hunt said...

Les, the tour visited this house first and after seeing that meadow, nothing else caught my eye the remainder of the afternoon. Bo of Planters has given me more details on creating the meadow which I will add to the posting today.

Sunil Patel said...

Hi Lynn, wow, that's an incredible view! The echinacea just seems to go on an on, I can only imaging how is smells on a hot day, gorgeous. "Wild flower meadow" planting is all the rage here and "prairie planting" comes a close second, it's being plugged a lot. It's not my style, I'm much more traditional, but I can appreciate how beautiful it can be.

Lynn Hunt said...

Sunil, these gardening fads come and go but I think the meadow is perfect for the house I visited. I am going to try to duplicate it in a small area here just for fun to see how it does. Will keep you posted!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

This is what I want to do with our septic drain field. I have a bunch of sumac and blackberries that are growing and crowding out all (or any) of the wildflowers that germinated.

Lynn Hunt said...

Janet, that would be beautiful for you! Are you going to start in the spring? Can't wait to see how you progress! Keep us posted.

ZielonaMila said...

Beautiful place, wonderful photos:) Greetings

Lynn Hunt said...

Greetings Zielona! Where are you writing from? I'm so glad you enjoyed the posting and photographs. Please come back and visit soon!

Mui said...

Last July, we visited our friend Diego Gala Merino in his dairy in Escalona del Prado (Segovia). He and his father own a fantastic farm and they are absolutely passionate about farming... we could share a few hours with them which was a really pleasure for us.

Lucy M. Clark said...
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Taylor said...

This is really inspiring! I would love to do this as I very much prefer an informal, somewhat wild garden & have made a point of trying to encourage pollinators to attract bees. This year I have foxgloves popping up all over the place as they have self seeded.

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