Part Of The American Meadows Wildflower Learning Center
Growing A Meadow & Growing Community
This Vermont couple transformed over an acre of their property from a mowed lawn to a colorful meadow buzzing and humming with life.
Jonathan and Natalie moved to Vermont in 2019. Their previous home had just a small patch of grass, so they were new to the long hours of yardwork their new 5½ acre property needed. Spending an entire day mowing and trimming wasn't their idea of a fun summer activity.
“We knew there had to be something better we could do than maintain a lawn,” said Natalie.
Jonathan and Natalie were discussing landscaping ideas with a new neighbor, Hadley Mueller, who coincidentally works at American Meadows! Hadley knew that their yard, with open space and plenty of sunlight, would be the perfect location for a wildflower meadow. Once they’re established wildflower meadows need very little work to maintain – a big improvement over the existing high-maintenance grass lawn. Plus, growing a wildflower meadow from seed is an easy way to fill up your yard with an abundance of flowers to support a thriving pollinator population.
The couple loved the idea! Natalie told Vermont Public: “To be honest, it was kind of depressing to look out on this sea of grass. I’ve always loved bees and we were like, let’s do it, we’re on board.”
Meadowscaping was new for Jonathan and Natalie, but they were able to receive plenty of support and education from Hadley and the American Meadows Wildflower Planting Guide.
They started preparing an acre of their property. An important step in planting a new wildflower meadow is removing all exciting turf grass so that it does not out-compete new seedlings. For a large-scale planting of this size, it helps to use a machine to remove the turf quickly and easily. They removed an acre of grass with the help of a friend and neighbor with a tractor and a rototiller attachment. Their first meadow was near the road. They picked out large rocks, removed the grass, and sowed their seeds.
The seed mix that Hadley recommended to start their meadow was the American Meadows Northeast Wildflower Seed Mix. The mix features 27 varieties of native and introduced wildflowers that thrive in the Northeast, including annuals that bloom in the first year, and perennials that bloom in the second year and beyond. The American Meadows traditional Regional Mixes have been a bestsellers for over 30 years (and counting), and they are especially easy to grow - ideal mix for first-time growers!
It wasn’t long before the excitement started, and they saw the quick-blooming annual wildflowers in the mix bursting with blooms! There was delicate white Baby’s Breath, soon followed by yellow Plains Coreopsis, orange Sulphur Cosmos, red Poppies, purple Foxgloves, blue Forget-Me-Nots, and more! The blooms brought songbirds and bees, too.
Seeing the new flowers that popped up each day as their meadow came to life brought the couple lots of joy. “It's amazing watching them,” says Natalie with a grin. “Every couple of weeks the meadows look totally different,” said Johnathan.
Johnathan and Natalie moved to Vermont looking for a slower pace and a sense of community – and their wildflower meadow was just what they needed. Their meadow is visible from the road, and as their meadow blossomed, their community blossomed too. Neighbors started dropping by, thanking them for planting the meadow and letting them know how much they loved the flowers. They brought baked goods, thank you notes, and even hand-picked bouquets!
“The meadow became this wonderful way to develop new friendships and feel like we belonged to something and were part of a community,” said Natalie in an interview. “A lot of people drove by and told us the flowers made them happy and gave them a boost.”
Loving Their Low-Maintenance Meadow
Jonathan and Natalie said goodbye to all the long summer evenings mowing their lawn, and instead have the time to enjoy and admire their wildflowers.
They water to encourage spring growth and have added seeds to add color to their meadow, but that’s about it when it comes to their chore list. Instead of weekly mowing, the meadow needs mowing just once a year.
They even expanded their meadow by another acre. They now have about 2¼ acres of wildflowers – and they’re planning to do more!
The bees are loving it, too! “They’re everywhere - it’s amazing watching them. It’s mostly honeybees, and some bumblebees... which is so exciting for me,” said Natalie.
“It's been wonderful on so many levels," added Jonathan.
The Meadowscaping Movement
Their friends, Jenna and Jacob of Baird Farm Maple Syrup, were so inspired by the field of flowers that they decided this year to plant a patch of wildflowers on their own property.
“What Natalie and Jonathan did was so spectacular — we wanted to create a similar habitat for all of the wild pollinators,” said Jenna in an interview.
“It definitely beats grass, and I was convinced we should do the same after the first glimpse of Jonathan and Natalie’s meadow,” said Jacob.
At American Meadows, we believe that meadowscaping has transformative power. It’s good for you, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for the world. Natalie and Jonathan’s meadow, buzzing with life, connecting them to their community, and bringing joy into their lives every day, is living proof of the benefits of meadowscaping.
“We started this as not wanting to mow grass, never expecting it would become what it has. Now we’re helping the bees, we’re adding beauty to the landscape and we’re making the community happy.” said Jonathan in an interview. “It’s nice to be able to give that back to everyone.”