Longwood Gardens in October, Part II: The Meadow Garden
After experiencing the Flower Garden Walk we found ourselves at the entrance to the Meadow Garden. This included a bridge that traversed the narrow point in Hourglass Lake.
We stopped to admire the reflections of the trees in the still water.
The Meadow Garden encompasses 86 acres and was created out of a former cow pasture. It is not a restored prairie, nor does it include exclusively native plants. However, many native grasses, wildflowers, and woody plants have been added over the years.
The muted colors of the herbaceous plants set off the blazing foliage of the trees at the forest edge.
The Webb Farmhouse and Galleries sits in the northeast corner of the Meadow Garden. The building dates back to 1730, and houses displays of photographs and background information on the garden.
Let me confess that I am not one of those people who think that the structure and shape of plants are just as satisfying as colorful flowers. I want color and lots of it!
However. I will admit that seedheads can be beautiful. For example, the fluffiness of Asters and Goldenrods, as well as the black dots in the blue sky made by wild Sunflowers.
Especially when contrasted against autumn foliage.
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Broom Sedge (Andropogon virginicus) were very much in evidence among the grasses. Though I also saw a few patches of invasive Miscanthus (which was grown as an ornamental in the Flower Garden Walk).
While in the Meadow Garden we ran into a young gardener driving a tractor. He was hauling a water tank to an area where plugs of Little Bluestem were newly planted. We talked for a while, and he told us that they used drones to spot invasive plants.
This intrigued me deeply. If drones can be used to spot weeds, why not to chase squirrels and rabbits? Could they be equipped with BB guns?
There were still a few flowers blooming, like this New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). In fact, I was surprised to see a few butterflies still out and about. We saw at least two species, but couldn’t get any pictures. One looked like a Clouded Sulphur, but I’m not sure.
By design, the Meadow Garden attracts a rich quantity and variety of bird and insect life. No pesticides are used. Every year, at least 170 bluebirds fledge there, and 206 speicies of birds have been identified.
In order to create more of a transition zone between forest and meadow, gardeners have planted hundreds of small native trees and shrubs. Here the seedheads of Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum) stand out against the Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis).
The naturalistic Meadow Garden feels like a different world from the formality of much of the rest of Longwood. On our way back we passed through a small woods that includes a marvelous tree house.
I would have gladly spent another hour or two in the Meadow Garden (or at least spent some time in the tree house), but there was so much more to see elsewhere, so on we moved.