Friday, 5 February 2016

Garden inspiration: native meadows

Garden design concepts and practice are constantly evolving, with new ideas being developed and old ones dumped or creatively recycled. One natural feature that is having something of a 'moment in the sun' now is the native meadow. 

A meadow is an area of grassland or other low plants, generally left unmown. In this region, native meadows occur naturally in a number of areas. They can develop where wombats or macropods such as kangaroos graze plants, keeping grasses low and preventing shrubs or trees from developing. Or they may occur as a mixed understorey below eucalypts or other trees, such as in Wiseman Park in Gwynneville. 

Native meadows can be very beautiful, using low flowering plants or grasses with interesting flower and seed heads to create interest. They often require less maintenance than a lawn, though they're not generally suitable for playing backyard ball games!  Here's a shot of a grassy meadow ringed by trees.  
A mixed native grass meadow, kept low by grazing or mowing.
This one's practically a lawn! 
There are literally dozens of local native plants suitable for growing in a meadow. The one shown below, Commelina (Commelina cyanea), is a tough and versatile meadow plant with  attractive blue flowers in spring and summer. It will often pop up in gardens unbidden, weaving in among other plants. 
Commelina (Commelina cyanea) is a useful meadow plant.
In shadier areas, ferns can form part of a diverse and attractive native meadow. Here's a Shield Fern (Lastreopsis species) growing in with grasses, Pennywort (Hydrocotyle peduncularis) and Native Violet (Viola hederacea) in a semi-shade spot.
Mixed native meadow plants for a shady spot. 
Another fern, and one that will actually grow in a fair amount 
of sun, is Prickly Rasp Fern (Blechnum asperum). Its
reddish new growth is a real feature.
Here's another example of a meadow kept low by the grazing of local animals. In this case the dominant grass is Pygmy Panic (Panicum pygmaeum), an attractive but rather rare local grass which would is equally at home in a lawn or a meadow.  
Pygmy Panic, looking very lawnlike
And every meadow has its season. Here's a spread of Forest Starwort (Stellaria flaccida) flowering wonderfully underneath a Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) at Blackbutt Reserve in Shellharbour. When not in flower, it isn't much to look at, but come the spring....
Forest Starwort has gorgeous flowers,
and as a bonus it's edible. 
If you're bored with your lawn, and don't need it for backyard sports, why not consider replacing at least part of it with a native meadow?  


2 comments:

  1. Hey great blog - can't believe I haven't visited it till now! Anyway, I've added you to mine - keep up the brilliant work and take care eh? - Paul (from GardenGuests )

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  2. Hi Paul, good on you and thanks for the add. And sorry for the very very slow reply! I'll check GardenGuests out now!

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