My So-Called Meadow

There is a part of the back garden where grass did not grow well, or at all. So I came up with the bright idea of turning it into what I called a “pocket meadow” consisting primarily of Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pennsylvanica). My thought was that it would look like this, but it hasn’t worked out that way.


So I guess it’s time for a progress report, which I promised last year. If today weren’t Wednesday I would file it under the occasional meme Tell the Truth Tuesday, put forward by the clever Allison of Bonnie Lassie.

First item to report is that the grass in this area (I used pavers to create a clear boundary) started to absolutely thrive this year.  One could have predicted this by applying the scientific principle of The General Perversity of Events. Or it could have been the spring’s cool weather or the buckets of rain we got. I’m leaving the grass uncut, and fortunately it doesn’t really grow more than a few inches even when looking lush.

There’s some Penn Sedge hiding among the grass in the photo above. I didn’t remove the grass because I thought that it would gradually be overcome by the Sedge. Really! But if I had removed the grass this area would currently look like a wasteland.


I’ve allowed most weeds to grow into the pocket meadow, with the exception of Common Plantain and a couple others that raise my hackles. I’m perfectly content to see the Violets spread, for example. But I’ve spent some hours kneeling and pulling Plantain. Truthfully, I start by kneeling and after a few minutes I’m lying on my side.


Part of the pocket meadow is mostly barren but dotted with a few unhappy Pennsylvania Sedge plants. They are unhappy probably because this area was often covered in standing water earlier in the year. Penn Sedge likes well-drained soil.

Most years we see standing water here only as the snow is melting. This year the quantity of rain made it a regular occurrence in April and May. By the end of summer this area tends to be rather dry – a pattern which is now emerging for this year.


Here is a sulking Penn Sedge. Now that we haven’t seen standing water for over a month it is recovering a bit, but can’t say I am optimistic about the future.


So at this point I’ve descended to a “throw everything at the lawn and see what sticks” approach. Which in this context means planting a small number of 3 different perennials and waiting to see which ones are doing OK same time next year.

Cupflower. Photo from Bluestone Perennials

The 3 I’ve chosen are Cupflower (Mazus reptans), Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides), and Green-and-Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum). As I said in my first post, I’m looking for stuff that is short and can take light foot traffic.

I’ll do another progress report in the fall and again in early summer next year. Who knows, maybe the Pennsylvania Sedge will make a comeback. I just want to stop feeling the need to roll my eyes when I describe my “pocket meadow”.

35 Comments on “My So-Called Meadow”

  1. I don’t know anything about Pocket Meadows, but I am well versed in matters of The General Perversity of Events. It may be small comfort, but after this year’s fake spring, we’re all rolling our eyes. Your meadow actually looks very cool and inviting.

  2. Aaargh! How very annoying and frustrating it is when plans don’t go the way we wanted. Perhaps leave it for a year or so and see if the grass dies back after a bad year, then maybe the sedge will start to thrive? Or you can try again with more plants.

  3. Hmmm…. Meadows are sunny places and this spot looks pretty shady. If it’s going to receive any foot traffic, meadowy plants aren’t going to survive. Are you looking for a ground cover that attracts pollinators? I’d let the violets take over since some species are host plants for frittilary butterflies. You could even add some this fall or I could mail you bare roots of some of my violets since I have several million.

  4. This is amazing. I’ve always thought of sedges as moisture loving plants that wouldn’t do at all for a lawn. So, I was curious, and went looking for photos of your Pennsylvania sedge. What a surprise — it looks like something I saw recently at my favorite refuge.

    Obviously, I wouldn’t have seen that plant — no shade and lots of water on the refuge — but I did see large patches of what seemed to be grass, bent over as though running water had flattened it. Now, after some exploration, I suspect it might have been a sedge like C. texensis, which will take the sun. I can’t wait to get back down to the refuge and get some photos. I had no idea that such a thing as grass-like sedges existed. So cool!

  5. Well, gardening is all about perversity, I think. I like the approach of “seeing what sticks” and sometimes, in those tough spots, that’s all one can accomplish. Those darn plants–not doing what we want.

  6. I think I commented on the wrong post ? duh ? haha .. in any case .. I actually am a fan of moss like Laurie .. our lawns have shrunk to almost nothing and I am very happy with that fact, although i have to let Garden PA have a little patch to play with .. I think it is a man thing ? LOL
    I do love sedges .. have a couple here and there .. so I get your way of thinking .. but yes .. a few well placed bulbs in the Fall could really perk up that look as well .. good luck !

  7. Well, you could call it “the back 40” We used that term when we really did have a lot of space and then there was “that” area. You can call it a meadow, or “that area” or feel free to use “back 40” whether it is or isn’t. Don’t we all have one of those places?

  8. My first yard project after I moved into my house was to remove the grass from the back of the lot and plant a meadow from seed. It was a meadow for about two years and then it started to change. Now it’s half purple coneflower “forest” and half sturdy asters, goldenrod, wild senna to hold the coneflowers from taking over completely. I have been removing, and continue to remove, grass here and there throughout the rest of the yard. Trees have complicated the small lot as well, but the birds love it. Anyway I just put in some Pennsylvania Sedge in one area under my half-failing redbud to see what happens. It never ends, but it’s always interesting.

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