Plants were selected that grow at different heights from ground covers up to 4’ and whose root systems are at different depths so they can exist comfortably together. The location, surrounded by lawn and sidewalk, and some steel edging on the lawn sides, makes it easy to keep the meadow from spreading beyond its intended boundaries. It was important to me that this planting, which I hoped would get very dense and full, would retain legibility as an intended planting and not look like someone just decided to forget about mowing. The boundaries help make that happen.
In one year from planting, the meadow reached a very pleasing level of maturity and has continued to fill in this third year. Some plants that had been (expectedly) rabbit-browsed the first year (Pale Coneflower, Asters, Liatris, Swamp Milkweed) began to have a chance in the second year because they were surrounded by other plants that rabbits do not prefer to nibble (various plants in the mint family). This was the first year that everything in the original planting was visible and flowering, and the first time I saw one Echinacea paradoxa, an unusual yellow Coneflower. The second year there was a lull in color late spring after the initial purple and yellow of the low Barren Strawberry and Nepeta, so I added in some early summer ‘eye candy’ in the form of some cultivated varieties of native perennials, (a purple Penstemon, a pink Yarrow, a butterscotch Coreopsis).
Management of the meadow has included some initial weeding the first year as plants filled in, and then selecting for what ‘volunteers’ would be allowed to remain. Some unexpected, unplanted new residents are also showing up, including Blue Flag Iris, Great Blue Lobelia amongst its cousins the (planted) Cardinal Flowers, and even a group of Cattails! The lawn is irrigated and, along with the copious rain this season and a rather high water table in this low area, these wetlands plants are making an appearance at the lower, driveway end of the meadow. The Cardinal Flower was not in the original design as it really requires some moisture to survive, however the lawn irrigation seems to be providing that, so it is a welcome splash of red in the middle of the long meadow. It was a remainder from another project and I just added it spontaneously but I'm glad I did!