When I think of meadows, I think of the forest preserve where we used to go for picnics when I was young. There would be acres - miles - of trees, and then, like magic, a sunlit meadow would appear in a clearing.
My sisters and I would make crowns from dandelions and whistles from blades of grass. I remember being fascinated by the delicate flowers of Queen Ann's Lace. I thought they were the prettiest of wildflowers, and now they are sold under the botanical name Ammi majus.
Meadows, and the flowers that grow there, have been displaced as the population encroaches on the wild green spaces. For that reason, I was excited to come across a book called URBAN & SUBURBAN MEADOWS: Bringing Meadowscaping to Big and Small Spaces, by Catherine Zimmerman. The author is a photographer and filmmaker who specializes in environmental issues. There is also an upcoming video created by the author as part of her Meadow Project.
I found this book fascinating, particularly the section comparing non-native lawns to native meadow/prairie installation and maintenance. I keep about a third of my yard wild, in the back since not everyone enjoys native landscapes.
The book not only includes very clear step-by-step instructions for creating a meadow, but it also is packed with pictures to illustrate each step. The design portion of the book doesn't just list suitable plants - the author defines plant communities and describes how they work, and then goes on to list her recommendations. The latter part of the book consists of comprehensive resource lists, broken down by specific regions of the U.S.
The meadow is an important part of the North American landscape, and it would be heartbreaking to see it go the way of the prairies that once covered huge expanses of our country. I hope Zimmerman's efforts, through her book and video, will remind people what a treasure our meadows were, and can be again.
What do meadows mean to you? Do they bring back special memories from your childhood, too?