Every now and again gardeners are influenced by a new fashion in setting out plants. The Victorians loved their colourful patchworks of bedding plants and the Edwardians went mad for Getrude Jekyll’s artistic borders with tall plants at the back and short to the front.
Today it’s meadows which are inspiring planting plans, whether they be the Prairie School, (sometimes called The New Wave), inspired by the ethereal look of grasses and drifts of perennials seen on the great American prairies, or the Pictorial Meadows of the Sheffield School, made famous at the Olympic stadium during the London Games.
The Pictorial Meadow is a great idea for people who don’t want conventional style beds in their garden scheme but more of a naturalistic look with pretty dots of colour rather like poppies in a cornfield or an Impressionist painting.
They are good for public parks and large spaces because they are very cost effective. Some companies are even offering a ready-made turf which you just roll out and sit back and watch grow, others have put together seed mixes which give a predominant colour scheme or flowering season.
Nigel Dunnet, who ‘invented’ this style and developed it with colleagues at Sheffield University, at the Olympic Park.
Of course as in everything what sounds simple never really is in reality. The ecology of these plant communities change so it is difficult to control any one population which might be out-competing its prettier neighbours. In other words, weeds and less attractive plants will take over and you will end up with a mess unless you put your back into it.
Tempted? Sarah Raven is very encouraging, read more at: https://www.sarahraven.com/articles/how_to_sow_your_own_pictorial_meadow.htm