Our emphasis on native plants favors the connections so vital to a natural and sustainable landscape.
The plants of the Meadow Garden blend the art of horticulture with the science of ecology, providing a tapestry of texture and color that shifts with the seasons.
Native and naturalized species capture the energy of the sun, provide food for pollinators and other animals, maintain the health of air, water, and soil, and provide a beauty of form that is only enhanced by a knowledge of their function.
As the palette of the Meadow Garden shifts with the seasons, "islands" of native wildflowers and grasses will draw your eye with their blends of textures and colors. Watch as they develop, mature, and change over time. As you focus on different parts of this expansive tapestry, you will discover new details on every visit, in every vista.
Native flowering trees edge the woodlands of the Meadow Garden. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), and Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) provide beautiful blooms in the spring before much of the meadow comes into height. Allegheny serviceberry and flowering dogwood produce berries in the summer and fall that provide food for many songbirds.
Many native species of oak play an important ecological role in the succession from meadow to forest, including white (Quercus alba), red (Q. rubra), scarlet (Q. coccinea), willow (Q. phellos), mossy-cup (Q. macrocarpa), swamp white (Q. bicolor), and pin (Q. palustris). These trees host many insects that are eaten by native birds, and provide acorns that feed species such as Eastern white-tailed deer, Eastern blue jay, and wild turkey.
The existing Meadow was augmented with herbaceous plug plantings of species important for their nectar, seeds, relationships with pollinators, and beautiful blooms. Hollow Joe-Pye-weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) provides nectar for butterflies, including the Eastern swallowtail, while white turtle-head (Chelone glabra) is a host plant for the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly.
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and the bright orange butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa) are two important host plants for the threatened monarch butterfly caterpillar. The deep red of cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a favorite of ruby-throated hummingbirds, while wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and penstemon (Penstemon digitalis) are favored by bumblebees.
Restoration seed and plug plantings, including native warm-season grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and broom sedge (Andropogon virginicus), provide seeds for birds in fall and winter, and add interesting color and texture to the meadow palette. Their deep root systems break up compacted soil and allow water to infiltrate the earth, helping to absorb stormwater runoff and recharge aquifers.
“Longwood Gardens shows us what it means to be stewards and validates the role of native plants in built landscapes of a post-wild world. The Meadow Garden hybridizes design principles of the natural world with horticultural strategy – an intentionally designed and managed plant community where population dynamics are encouraged within an aesthetic framework.”
Claudia West, MLA, Ecological sales Manager North Creek Nurseries, Inc.