Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

Let’s talk about how to create meadow clearings with the participation of perennials!

Flower beds that recreate images of lush meadows are now at the height of garden fashion, especially in countries where the nature of wild nature is replaced by the asphalt of cities and the artificiality of perfectly manicured gardens. However, to say that meadow compositions appeared only in our time is fundamentally wrong, since their style has been formed for more than two centuries.

Natural flower beds and garden fashion

Classics of the genre are considered English mixborders, which for the first time began to use not only lush garden, but also wild plants. An outstanding role in their popularization was played by the artist-designer Gertrude Jekyll, who wrote about meadow flower beds at the beginning of the XX century: “they have a simple and gentle charm, which you look for in vain in gardens with more pretension, and old garden flowers seem to know that they look best here.”

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

In Europe, the trendsetter for the “natural” flower garden was Karl Forster-a brilliant gardener, breeder and author of a unique design style that has had a huge impact on modern gardening.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

The latest trends in the design of gardens and flower beds are unconditionally directed towards the natural style. It is particularly evident in the works of Beth Shatto, Wolfgang oehme and James van orders evidence. The undisputed authority in the creation of meadow flower beds of natural style is considered to be the Dutchman Piet Udolf. This designer has made a true revolution in the idea of the aesthetics of the flower garden, creating a style so close to nature that it is almost impossible to distinguish his work from natural meadows or luxurious grass thickets along the roads.

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Natural flower beds in country gardens: is it possible?

The meadow compositions of Piet Udolf and his followers are very extensive and can not fit in most small private gardens. For their perception, the so-called “borrowed landscape” is very important, which should have an open perspective. Unfortunately, the neighborhood of such mixborders with poor fences and typical suburban buildings is absolutely impossible, because they will be directly associated with abandoned corners of the garden or with thickets of grass along the fence.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

Creating modern meadow, steppe mixborders in most small gardens is very problematic. Unfortunately, few people can afford to plan a garden so that the ecological natural flower garden becomes its organic component and does not dissonate with buildings and other compositions. For gardens, bright bouquet mixborders are more usual, full of colors, but devoid of elegance and refinement. The combination of flower beds of different styles in the overall composition of the garden is possible for few.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

Let me offer you the compromise versions of flower mixborders developed by me, which are meadow flower beds. I hope that they will appeal to both supporters of wild and lovers of garden plants. The main advantage of these mixborders is that they can be created in small country gardens.

Where to place a meadow flower garden

Let’s start with recommendations for placing our flower beds in the garden. I think that such compositions will look most natural around the perimeter of a well-groomed lawn. If the flower beds are made up of low plants, they will be good along the paths, but if they are collected from tall grasses, the best background for them will be hedges or fences.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

Forms of meadow flower beds can be any: free, allowing a comprehensive view, or wide borders, for admiring them only from one side. The width and size of mixborders depend on the layout and size of the garden, but narrow border bands will not be able to convey the image of a luxurious flowering meadow. The optimal width is considered to allow you to reach the center of the flower garden without stepping on its edges, but in our case, the composition should be wider, which will require special slabs to care for it. A very convenient solution may be to lay a path through the flower garden, which in summer will be completely hidden by overgrown plants.

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Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

The composition of plants in our meadow flower beds is very extensive and can include any plants. There are few restrictions, but they are categorical.

Restrictions on the choice of plants for a meadow flower garden

The first is the rejection of pompous, overly lush varieties, even if they are descended from modest wild ancestors. Second,and perhaps most importantly-the inability to plant in a single composition of plants of different types of meadows — for example, dry and flood, high-altitude and steppe. The problem here is that this will significantly complicate the care, since the plants will need different agricultural techniques.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

The third restriction is the undesirability of including plants with aggressive, highly sprawling root systems in the flower garden, which can drown out and displace more modest neighbors. Of course, the conditions for a gracious life of the flower garden are much greater, but even observing just these three rules will allow the plants in the composition to feel comfortable and live long and amicably.

General recommendations for creating a meadow flower garden

Variants of our meadow flower beds will not become a “Haute couture” design, but will be a kind of “pret a port” – affordable, beautiful, convenient, including all the modern trends of garden fashion. From the point of view of agricultural engineering requirements, our flower beds will be a compromise, since we use an assortment that can grow successfully in any bright garden.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

The main, or rather the most noticeable inhabitants of our meadow mixborders, will be decorative grasses. We often combine these plants under the name cereals, which is incorrect, since there are many plants of other families among them. It is impossible to create a meadow flower garden without herbs, because they determine the style of the composition and make it a meadow.

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Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

When selecting species, preference should be given to varietal forms that differ from natural ones by their compact growth and non-aggressive root system. Naturally, for large volume compositions, we will choose more powerful plants, and for narrow and border – smaller ones.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

The method of placing plants in our man-made meadows must comply with the principles of their growth in nature. It is desirable to create a mixed, continuously planted strip or array. Powerful tall plants should become the dominant parts of the flower garden, so they should be planted singly or in small groups. Medium-sized plants should form color and texture spots, so they should be combined in small groups. Low-growing and groundcover forms should be placed only at the edge of the mixborder.

Man-Made Meadows: How To Create a Meadow Flower Garden From Perennials (Part 1)

Planting plants in large patches and arrays in our flower beds is impossible, because their areas are small. To create a more natural picture, flowering perennials should be placed against the background of groups and bundles of herbs. It is very important that the dimensions of the plants correspond to the size of the flower garden, so we will consider two options for our fantasy meadow.

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