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I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
When I think of the word “meadow,” I imagine a glorious landscape filled with grasses and wildflowers swaying in the breeze. While beautiful, these meadows also seem completely out of reach for most home gardeners. But in this episode, meadow expert Graham Laird Gardner, author of ‘Tiny and Wild: Build a Small Scale Meadow Anywhere,’ is here to show us that we can recreate tiny meadows, even on the smallest scale.
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover's Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
As his last name implies, he comes from a long line of passionate gardeners. Over the years, Graham developed an appreciation and deep knowledge of native plants. He has designed gardens focused on native species in various parts of the U.S.
Most recently, Graham relocated to Puerto Rico. There, he is continuing to learn about that region's native plants while living an off-grid, environmentally sustainable lifestyle on local farms. Graham has devoted his life's work to native plant conservation and education through beautiful garden design.
A meadow is an area filled with grasses, wildflowers, and other flowering plants that grow together to form a habitat. Meadows support a wide diversity of insect and animal life by providing food, shelter, and places to raise their offspring. They are an attractive, low-maintenance alternative to lawns.
There are so many benefits to converting parts of your yard to mini meadow gardens:
When designing your own tiny meadow, there are a few key things to consider:
Walk your outdoor space and observe sunlight, drainage, and other environmental factors to choose appropriate native plants. Identify areas you pass by and view often where you’d like to see and interact with wildlife. Meadows also work well for tricky spots like dry/sloped locations or poor-performing lawns.
Evaluate Light, Soil, Drainage
Test your site’s sun exposure, nutrients, and how quickly water drains to match appropriate native plants to conditions.
Focus on grasses and grass-like sedges or rushes to provide structure and texture. Then, interplant short-lived flowering perennials, self-seeding annuals, and spring bulbs. Aim for at least 70% native species, but Graham suggests adjusting ratios based on your unique vision.
Mimic natural layers: Tall plants, mid-height fillers, and low-growing groundcovers. Site taller plants sporadically instead of only along the back. Group shorter species together so they have visual impact.
Here are Graham’s recommendations:
If you have just a tiny space to spare, Graham suggests starting around a mailbox or other small spot that’s tedious to mow and maintain. Buy from reputable native plant nurseries; don't use generic wildflower seed mixes. Combine potted plants and plugs with seed scattering to balance cost.
Repeat plant groupings and use other basic design principles to keep your meadow looking intentionally lush instead of wildly chaotic. The goal is to bring out the beauty in nature rather than its disorderliness.
Be patient as your meadow establishes and learn to identify potentially invasive weeds. But refrain from constantly fussing over every single new volunteer plant. Annual fall or very early spring cutbacks help with aesthetics and soil health.
Above all else, Graham emphasized that watching wildlife flock to the tiny meadow you've created is extremely rewarding. A meadow garden, no matter how small, can have a measurable positive impact by increasing the biodiversity in your little area. By making different choices in our own backyards, we collectively have enormous power to help vital pollinator species thrive.
I was left feeling wildly inspired to create miniature meadow patches wherever I can in the future. I hope Graham's tips inspire you too!
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