Tuesday, May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022

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Gardening with Allen: Meadowscaping worth a try

The Columbian
Published:

I was intrigued by the article on meadowscaping in The Columbian on Jan. 11. What is your reaction to this idea? Do you have any suggestions for doing it?

When I was still active in the landscape business I did two projects similar to what was described in the article.

In one case we removed wild blackberries from a large sloping area, which was viewed from a back deck. We sowed a mix of wildflower seeds. Germination was limited because of irregular rainfall. Then the blackberries grew back with a vengeance. The second time we sprayed the blackberries to kill the roots. Then we planted some perennial flower plants in areas where rainwater collected temporarily. After a year, these plants developed into a colorful display. The rest of the area grew up with wild grasses with an occasional wildflower here and there.

The second project was in a smaller portion of a large backyard landscape with a lawn. We sowed a wildflower mix in an area with a sprinkler system. Seed germination was quite good. We had to hand pull a lot of annual weeds that came up along with the flowers. By the second year the flowers were established and grew thick enough that there were a lot fewer weeds.

To get a colorful display like those pictured in the article, you would need to transplant multiple varieties of perennial flowers in groupings. More mature gallon-size plants would fill the area more quickly and reduce weed growth. If you mulched this area every spring with 1 to 2 inches of bark dust you would have very little weed growth.

If I were going to do this project for myself I would start by incorporating at least 3 inches of bark dust or compost into the soil with a large rototiller. Then I would plant clusters of three to seven 4-inch to gallon-size plants selected from the following improved selections of native wildflowers.

For early spring bloom I would plant three low-growing ground covers, Alyssum Basket of Gold, Aubrieta Purple Rock Cress and Lamium Pink Pewter. Lamium continues to bloom through the entire summer.

For early summer to mid-summer bloom I would plant varieties that grow 12 to 30 inches tall: Geranium Rozanne, Coreopsis Moonbeam, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) Goldsturm, Lavender Hidcote, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) and Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria). Rozanne has sky blue flowers, Moonbeam has lemon yellow flowers, Goldsturm has deep yellow flowers and Hidcote has deep lavender blue flowers, Peuvian Lily comes in a wide range of colors. Rozanne, Moonbeam and Peruvian Lily will continue blooming into late summer to early fall.

Then I would plant China Aster for fall bloom. I would place plants a little less than their full diameter apart so they will grow together leaving no space for weeds.

Another approach would be to plant a seed mixture of grass and wildflowers. Pro Time Lawn Seed Company in Portland (ptlawnseed.com) has an excellent mixture which they call Fleur de Lawn. This mix contains the proper selection of grass seed varieties and low-growing flowers to achieve good results with low maintenance. It even contains a dwarf clover so no fertilizer is required. An occasional, well-timed mowing at 3-inch height is all the maintenance needed.

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