Saturday, 30 April 2011

Our Meadow Garden at Lovegrass Farm in P.E.I.

Spreading lime in early spring 2010
We started a Meadow Garden at Lovegrass Farm last Spring on a South facing slope.  Last winter I decided we needed to plant a meadow and that slope was the perfect spot.  Of course we should have tilled the ground the fall before and allowed the sods to break down over winter, but I didn't know I wanted it then!  So, we did it the hard way, to show you what NOT to do!  We spread lime and had our neighbor Mitchell tear it up with his big tractor tiller.  We grew the grass seed in plugs to have a fighting chance against the weeds.  The area below the meadow is covered in mussel and oyster shells that we had tilled in and will be filled with lavender plants this year as we extend our lavender rows.

Plugs planted in freshly tilled sod

This next photo shows the plugs we planted in this rough freshly tilled ground.  This field had not been farmed in 35 years.  We're used to doing things the hard way.  We've spent several early Springs cutting down white spruce trees that just want to turn the field into a Forest again.  We have Brothers that are Farmers, but alas, they do not live close enough to make use of their machinery.  These sods grew back and were too much competition for the plugs.  We spread eel grass around them but that didn't help much, we may have to do this area over this year.

Sods removed for planting

Then we decided to remove the sods so that it would be easier to transplant our grass plugs, so wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow load we hauled them off.  On the edge of the photo you can see the sods starting to grow back.  In our gardens we usually spread lime, shells and compost and till the ground.  We then sow buckwheat to smother the weeds and turn that under for green manure, however, many meadow grasses and wildflowers often do best in infertile soils.

Dividing the Meadow

The meadow was then divided into separate areas for each variety of grass so that I could experiment with mixing different wildflowers with each grass to find the most appealing combinations and for the chance to take photos.  I made pathways through the meadow with eel grass which will hopefully smother the weeds.

Grass Plugs we grew from seed

Plug trays

The plugs went in easily and quickly with a hand trowel once the sod was gone.  The shorter grasses were put in about a foot apart because I didn't want to leave empty spaces for weeds to grow in.  This year I'll remove grasses here and there where I want to add wildflowers.  I did plant two patches of butterfly weed plugs last year; they take two years to bloom and moved a few perennial flowers in as well.  Can't wait to see how it looks this summer as the plants mature!  We were planting these in early July, which is late, but the weather was on our side with some rain to water them in so we wouldn't have to and they thrived!

Meadow in September 2010

We used Indian Grass & Big Bluestem in the back left to block off the rest of the surrounding field.  The top middle we didn't finish yet but will continue to fill in with Little bluestem.  We sowed buckwheat in the top right because we knew we wouldn't have time to plant there until this year.  We'll probably put Switchgrass at the top and Deschampsia below around the rose bushes.  I gained great Inspiration from a couple of books; Plant-Driven Design by Scott Ogden & Lauren Springer Ogden & The American Meadow Garden by John Greenlee.

A View from the Top of the Meadow Fall 2010

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