Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wildflower meadow has never looked better

There are lots of flowers blooming in our gardens around the house, but for this Garden Blogger's Blooms Day* I'm going to feature our wildflower meadow, which has never looked better.

It's been a strange summer with far too much rain and low temperatures (until it got hot this week). The effect on the meadow has been to slow the blooms down, and keep the flowers fresher for longer. I think the cool nights have contributed to this in a big way.

Echinacea and Ratibida with Monarda in the background

As a result, we have flowers blooming together that normally would not be there at the same time. This is especially noticeable with bee balm (Monarda didyma). In a normal, hot summer, it would be going to seed by now. So when photographing, we have these lovely soft lilac-mauve tones through the meadow, which is dominated by the yellow of the ratibidas and rudbeckias at this time of the year.

Liatris has become well-established in the meadow now

Together with camera club friends, I spent many hours photographing in the meadow this week. We try to start at sunrise and go until 8 or 9 a.m. and then have coffee. Our photographic goal is to try to create some visual order out of the profusion and chaos of the wildflowers. It's a fun challenge.

My crew and I also weeded this past week (mostly my crew, I have to admit). The meadow, which is made up of native flowers and grasses, was getting overrun with non-native Queen Anne's Lace, which takes over and gives us white blobs in the background when we photograph.

It actually wasn't too bad a job because the wet ground made it possible to pull them out - tap root and all. By not allowing this biennial weed to go to seed this year we've cleared up the problem for a couple of seasons. (The other weeds we remove from the meadow are Canada thistle and sow thistle.)

Queen Anne's Lace is pretty, but like all weeds, it reproduces excessively, and ends up dominating parts of the meadow.

Many gardeners imagine that you don't have to weed naturalized plantings, but it ain't so, I'm sorry to say. If you want a wildflower meadow to look its best, you have to control unwanted plants. I find that it always seems like a much bigger job than it turns out to be. In fact, removing the Queen Anne's Lace only took a couple of mornings and part of two afternoons, thanks to David and Shelly, my invaluable garden helpers. (I did a short stint too, but mostly, I've had to stick to the mowing, which never seems to end.)

More blooms:

Echinacea shot with a portrait lens
that allows for lovely soft backgrounds

Meadow blazing star beginning to bloom

Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium)

Monarda still in bloom in mid-August
Ratibida pinnata, the yellow that dominates the late summer

More information about our meadow and how we established it is at my website.

*Thanks to Carol at May Dreams garden blog for the opportunity to share with other gardeners. Be sure to visit her blog to see many more August Blooms Day offerings.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener


  1. What a great summer meadow! I have great plans for next spring's meadow, which goes in this November.

  2. the wildflower meadows sure is beautiful, and so is all the rest. Happy GBBD!


  3. Stunning! Graceful, delicate "wild" flowers.
    Always a treat to visit your blog.

  4. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Wow. That's just such a gorgeous and photogenic meadow. Really nice job.

  5. Wow, that's just lovely. I wish I could get away with doing this to my whole backyard, but I think the grass fanatic neighbors would string me up---hmm, but maybe a small section in the center...

    Thanks for sharing, and happy Bloom Day!

  6. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. How glorious. Having seen your meadow at the forward edge of this wave, I can imagine myself there. With my camera. Here... how do you like my imaginary pictures. Good stuff, eh?

  7. Anonymous4:42 PM

    Yvonne, your meadow is unbelievable - just gorgeous! Helen
    Gardening With Confidence

  8. Yvonne, I can't believe I didn't have you on my blog roll, that's been remedied! Your meadow is fantastic, and how interesting to see how the cool wet summer has affected it. We've had a cooler summer as well, which has been a blessing as my new front garden has settled in. Thanks for sharing the gorgeous photos (I like the portrait lens idea particularly) and I'll be back!

  9. Beautiful beautiful beautiful Yvonne! I had sea holly up north. I will try adding that to my southern home.

  10. Thank you all for your comments. We're very lucky to have this beautiful meadow and I love sharing it. Just this morning, three gals from my camera club were here to do some flower photography in the meadow. We had a great time in the morning mist.

  11. I am so glad that I found your blog via GBBD. I wanted to try a wild flower meadow and now you are setting me in the right direction. A gardening friend of mine bought wild flower seeds in France from the breeder and had a great success here in Italy; the following year he ordered what he thought were the same seeds from an Italian supplier and found to his horror that it contained a savagely pernicious weed that nobody knows how to get rid of. Moral of the story - buy the best seed from reliable breeders.
    Yvonne aka Giardino in Umbria

  12. My neighbor wants a low maintenance flower garden so she doesn't have to mow. I keep trying to convince her to create a wildflower garden, but she just isn't biting. Instead, she has a big weedy mess. *sigh*
    I have started one in the corner between our two yards hoping that she'll see how little I actually have to do to it and how fabulous it looks. Maybe if I show her your beautiful meadow she will finally be convinced. Wish me luck!

    I love rattlesnake master!! I never even knew it existed until I went looking for plants for my wildflower garden. It pairs beautifully with quinine and common mullein. One of my wildflower beds is a theme of whites and silvers. My next plant for there is pussytoes.

  13. Thanks for all those great comments. And to Sylvana: Good luck with your neighbor. The truth is that any kind of garden takes some effort. The hard part is convincing people that the effort is worth it.


Thanks so much for visiting this site. I have a new country garden blog and I will no longer be publishing comments at this blog. If you have a question or comment about the topic here, please use the contact form at my new blog to get in touch with me.

-Yvonne, aka Country Gardener