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.




Urban and Suburban Meadows 










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?






0 Kudos
by NJMetal on ‎11-03-2010 10:03 PM

When I think of meadows, two books come to mind.  The first being William Alexander's "The $64 Tomato" in which he chronicles his ill fated attempt to create a 'natural' meadow on a plot of land on his upstate New York property,  The other being a similar meadow cultivation by Michael Pollan as described in his rookie effort, "Second Nature".


Both boos offer humorous diatribes on 'creating' a meadow on their respective properties.  What I can gather collectively from both tales is that a meadow is best left to nature.  That being said, if you still want to tackle a meadow on your own it maybe best to expect the unexpected and prepare to be overwhelmed in every way shape or form.  While it maybe a romantic idea it seems to me the best way to appreciate a meadow is to appreciate it in is natural form.


If you do have a real drive to create or cultivate your own meadow, I think the best advice maybe to read EVERYTHING available on the subject before you dive in.  You may just get what you did or did not anticipate on the outset.


by Moderator becke_davis on ‎11-05-2010 11:33 AM

Hi NJ - Bill Alexander was featured here when his book first came out. B&N's Garden Book Club is no longer around (we moved all the garden content here) but you can still access his featured visit in the archives: 



by NJMetal on ‎11-05-2010 10:46 PM

Thanks for the link back in time!  I'm sorry I missed Mr.. Alexander's appearance here by a long shot!  I loved his book and I hope he publishes more material of it's ilk.  As you have stated in that old bookclub thread, humor in gardening literature is a rare and beautiful thing.  Strange as that may seem as humans attempting control over nature will always breed laugh out loud diatribes!

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎11-05-2010 11:59 PM

I remember he was a really funny (and fun) guest. I wonder what he's up to these days?

by NJMetal on ‎11-06-2010 11:34 AM

I took a moment to find out what Mr. Alexander has been up to these days.  Turns out he flew under our collective radars this summer.  He published his latest book, 52 LOAVES, a book about trying to bake the perfect loaf of bread.  Though it may seem he switched genres from gardening to food, that is not the case at all.  Here is part of the review from Barnes and Noble:


"William Alexander is determined to bake the perfect loaf of bread. He tasted it long ago, in a restaurant, and has been trying to reproduce it ever since. Without success. But now he’s going to try again—every week for one year—until he gets it right. He will bake his peasant loaf from scratch. And because Alexander is nothing if not thorough, he really means from scratch: growing, harvesting, winnowing, threshing, and milling his own wheat."


Sounds like another winner to me.  I'll add to my wishlist and squeeze this one in when I can! 

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎11-07-2010 09:32 AM

How cool! Thanks for checking out Bill Alexander's recent adventures - I'm going to have to look into that book. For those who haven't read THE $64 TOMATO, Bill tracks the cost of growing a single tomato much the way he follows the road to a loaf of bread in the new book.


It's more than that, though - it's almost more about his move to a new house than a vegetable-growing book, but it was a fascinating read either way.

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