An English Bulb Meadow

Diana Chapman
Sun, 09 Aug 2015 09:31:15 PDT
I think most people want it both ways, a neat trimmed lawn and bulbs 
too. Planting a few drifts can work in this respect. I called John's 
garden a bulb meadow rather than a bulb lawn because it really is a 
meadow, which like my horse pastures, gets mown at the end of summer.  
If you want a neat lawn, then the best thing is early blooming, low 
growing species that will not grow knee-high, and that can be trimmed by 
the beginning of summer, which, of course, limits the species you can 
plant.  John started his bulb meadow this way, then tried more and more 
species that bloomed later giving him many months of bloom. I am 
definitely inspired.  I have lots of room, and yesterday evening paced 
out an area about 45ft x 45ft and started removing coarse weeds with a 
mattock, visions of John's meadow dancing in my head.

> I have been mulling the management implications of a tall bulb meadow in my climate. If I don’t mow at least once or twice a year, woody species take over, including ivy, blackberries and several shrubs. My turf is not watered, which doesn’t seem to kill the quack grass, but it does keep the ivy from leaping into full growth.
> My turf has a low growing native sedge, Carex pansa, in some areas, green year round unlike the grasses. I have a second sedge, even lower growing, C. brevicaulis, that is golden-green, and clumps of heath grass (low, blue foliage).
> Widely spreading plants include common turf weeds (I would use quotes if the list allowed), lotus, several clovers, sorrel, selfheal, Glecoma,  dandelions, hairy catsear, hawkweed, english daisy, Douglas aster, sea thrift, wild strawberry, and an occasional Centaurea.
> Bulbs:  daffodils, bluebells (Hyacinthoides x massartina), small patches of Ixia, Homeria (a yellow flowered Watsonia). Cyclamens pop up in shady areas, hauled there by ants. A rose-pink Oxalis flowers in the turf even with regular mowing.
> What Diana’s articles about John’s bulb lawn showed me was that I was thinking too small, and way too manicured! Now I’m considering mowing 2 m borders along the beds to keep the quack grass from leaping the edging, and mowing some paths, then letting most of the turf grow until fall. It’s a very different approach. I have my eye on a 10 x 50  area that was feral lilac shoots, and would look great with bulbs, bunch grasses and sedges, as a place to start.
> Kathleen
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