How Long Will It Take a Meadow to Grow?
The short answer is: you are going to have to wait. The good news is: they grow.
There is a famous saying in meadow lore that states:
The first year it sleeps. The second year it creeps. And the third year it leaps.
We get asked questions all the time like “How long does it take to grow?” Or how soon will it take to see a wildflower? What do you need to do to maintain it?
These are questions that are actually unanswerable in the truest sense. Each meadow has a personality. And…like people they can get into moods. One year our meadow was a sea of black-eyed susans. Another year, only a scant few. Every year is dependent on so many variables. Water levels, sunlight days, temperature etc. You also need to know your land before you plant. Is the soil more clay? Is it more sand? Was it once a farmed field? All of these factors and more will play into the future growth of your meadow. If you want plants to look the same every year, get a pot and stick in the same annual on the same spot of your front stoop. We have a smaller “mini” meadow as we affectionately call it, and even though they are only a few hundred feet from one another, they really don’t mirror each other at all.
Meadows evolve. They take time. For example, the picture below was taken on May 3rd, 2016. The meadow installation began the previous year in April of 2015. In the picture you can see two things that date the picture very well: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus train going by, which stopped performing the following year, and two, note the pristine newness of our deck furniture.
Next is a video from May 3rd, 2018. There is a flurry of animal activity, but you can see the growth in the meadow is much less and the trees have yet to even leaf-out at all! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any footage from May 2017. In May of that year, we were busy installing our rain garden in the front of the house so all of our attention was focused there. You can read about what’s blooming in our rain garden now, but an article highlighting the installation of that project is still forthcoming. It’s a big one! (The article, not the rain garden!)
The picture below was taken also on May 3…but in the year 2019. This time it’s a much different look. First, the sweet gum has outgrown the pine! Wow! And you get a sense of the fullness of the meadow as it is now in its fifth growing season. You may also note that the pine (second on the left looks different.) This particular pine we trimmed, actually my husband did ALL the work on that one, and “lobbed up” the limbs so that we could get a better view of the meadow from the kitchen and family room. And this time, it’s the Tropicana train instead of the circus. We see that go by several times a week!
So, the long and the short of it…just wait for it. Your meadow will arrive when it is good and ready. And interestly, we managed to notice some new wildlife appear once the meadow was planted. We have red-winged blackbirds and turkeys. We didn’t have those before. I saw an eagle two weeks ago. In fact, last night at dusk we caught sight of yet ANOTHER new bird we have never seen before: an Orchard Oriole. Say that ten times fast. He was making quite a ruckus and his song was something we had never heard before. It made for exciting dinner conversation at Flutter By Meadows.
And for all those that are wondering what the area was before it was a meadow at all: here it is, just plain old mowed detention basin grass with standard CSX container train. Here’s a newspaper article about our transformation: https://communitynews.org/2017/05/31/house-view-homeowners-turn-drainage-basin-meadow/.