Five of the best: meadow gardens
Meadows are highly diverse communities of plants that keep soil, insect, bird and mammal populations healthy. They are also dreamily beautiful!
Photo- Jardin Plume
To commemorate his mum’s 60th Coronation anniversary in 2012, Prince Charles started a meadow project. The first of the 60 Coronation meadows was planted at his garden Highgrove, in the Cotswolds. The Highgrove meadow, four acres dotted with oaks, chestnut, poplars and beech, now boasts more than 72 varieties of plants, including five native orchids.The meadow is cut in summer for hay, and grazed by sheep between September and December which help tread the wildflower seed back into the ground to start the show again in spring.
Never one to do anything by halves the new meadow garden at Longwood in Pennsylvania spans 86 acres, with almost 5 kilometres of walking and hiking trails. Highlighting native plants of the region it also demonstrates the latest thinking in ecological garden design. Rather than trying to restore the land to what it was, the meadow aims to support the relationships between water, plants, animals, and humans that conservationist and ecological pioneer Aldo Leopold called the Community of the Land. And, like everything at Longwood, it is sensationally beautiful.
Photos- Graveyte Manor
English garden writer William Robinson wrote about his plans for the meadows at Gravetye in 1870 and the new iteration of the garden has developed his ideas. The meadow show starts in February with snowdrops and crocus, followed by daffodils flowering through carpets of bluebells. In April there are wild tulips and camassia, with native wildflowers blooming from May. Grasses take over in late summer and in September the meadow is mown for hay and rests over winter.
This gorgeous garden in Normandy France takes the formality of the traditional French garden and gives it a modern, naturalistic makeover. Orderly hedges contrast with the wild abandon of flowers and the billowing grasses that give the garden its name. In summer and autumn the meadow grasses of the orchard are mown in regular squares. The effect is of nature having coloured in between the lines.
Photo- Susan Rushton
Ahead of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown, one of his iconic landscapes, Trentham Estate, asked Professor Nigel Dunnet for advice. Dunnet is Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture at the University of Sheffield and has pioneered ecological approaches to gardens and public spaces that integrate sustainability, affordability and beauty. His go-to? The meadow. Large woodlands and areas of diseased rhododendrons at Trentham were cleared for a meadow sowing in 2015, with stunning results.