Deschampsia Meadow

The Deschampsia Meadow is so named due to the predominance of the Deschampsia cespitosa cultivar “Bronzeschlier’. Here this native grass is used to create a naturalistic type planting called a matrix planting due to a minority of flowering plants interspersed within a visually dominant matrix of grass.  Together these combine to create a meadow-like appearance. In spring the dark blue spires of Cammasia ‘Caerulea’ bloom first, subtly contrasting with the fresh green foliage of the grass.  As summer takes to hold the grass is in full flower creating a bronze-like cloud, and the minority of wildflowers is represented by the very structural and long-lasting form of the self-sowing biennial Digitalis ferrunginea, along with clumps of Rudbeckia maxima, Parthenium integrifolium, asclepias tuberosa , and the self-introduced Potentilla recta.  The summer color scheme is an experiment in the restricted use of color with yellows, whites, and oranges contrasting and harmonizing with green and bronze.

The resultant dreamy meadow-like atmosphere creates a sense of wholeness by fully encompassing the nursery sales area with its mass. The soft cloud-like inflorescence are juxtaposed and accentuated by the hard, flat, and linear brick paving, stone pathway, ranks of potted plants, and the Perennial Meadow which is a more diverse and colorful planting. Within the planting itself, the structure of the forbs provides a strong contrast with their emergent, upright,  and long-lasting forms. What is of particular interest here is the aesthetic co-evolution of the grass and forbs which create continuity of space over a long period of time – from spring into winter.  Just prior to winter the grass is finally clipped into its final and formal topiary-like form. Here the individual clumps of grass are more evident, creating a sense of formality with their ranked orderliness. Deschampsia is not the only grass that can be used in this way, the most important criteria being that whatever grass is used, it must remain structurally intact for a long period of time and thus aesthetically pleasing year-round.

From a cultural standpoint, this clipping is necessary to reduce the amount of damage wrought by invading critters who relish the abundance of nest-building material, stockpiling it within the homes they have built by significantly burrowing within the root system of the grass itself. It should be noted that to leave a planting of any type intact and through the winter increases the likelihood of it becoming a metropolis for rodents, though the final expression of the garden is lost. As the grass is clipped its leaves naturally fall around its base creating an excellent moisture-retaining, weed-suppressing, soil-building mulch. As the individual plants senesce they leave behind improved growing conditions for their replacements.

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