Garden Photo of the Day

A Meadow Full of Serenity

By Kim Charles:

Meadow mix: Echinacea, monarda, rosinweed

With a keen photographic eye, Kathy from PA captures the special elements and close up beauty of her meadow landscape. 

"The recent prairie post encouraged me to share our meadow story from western Pennsylvania, zone 5. Meadows take courage and patience. Our meadow was converted from a grassy play area after our boys were grown. The first year, 2013, was not very encouraging, but year after year it grew taller, thicker and yielded new surprises."

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A meadow view

Silphium trifoliatum

Monarda fistulosa

Coreopsis tinctora

The meadow in its autumn glory.

Morning mists bring special effects.

Our meadow provides both energy and calmness to enjoy often.

View Comments


  1. tennisluv 08/04/2017

    What great photography and lovely meadow plants. Thanks for sharing your meadow with us.

    1. user-6896762 08/04/2017

      Thank you, Sonya!

  2. deeinde 08/04/2017

    Your photography is magnificent! I would love to hear the process of keeping it a meadow. Reseeding? Do you mow once a year? Can you just let the tall grass lie down after mowing or does it need to be removed?

    1. user-6896762 08/04/2017

      Hi Dee,
      Thanks. ( I goofed....I am not an experienced blogger and part of your response is the second note in Diane's sorry).
      When we mow in the spring , a rotary mower is used, and the grasses are just left on top. The new growth just comes right through.

      1. deeinde 08/04/2017

        That's awesome, Kathy. Do you need to reseed? I know many of the meadow mixes fade out after the 3rd year. Yours looks great! Low maintenance, beautiful and great for the pollinators!

        1. Chris_N 08/04/2017

          Hi Dee - there are two ways to make a meadow seed mix. The first, and most common commercially, is to use a lot of colorful non-native annuals with a few perennials thrown in. These are the type that look great the first year, ok the second year, and bad the years after that.

          Less common is a mix of native perennials and grasses. These generally look bad the first year as the plants are putting their energy into developing strong root systems. The second year there are usually a few flowers but nothing really flashy. The third year is when they start to take off. If managed properly you rarely have to reseed this type of meadow. Kathy's is a well managed example of the second type.

  3. CountryMouse103 08/04/2017

    Lovely! And thanks for sharing the photographs with the names. So many times I see the plant pictures without knowing! Your photography is excellent. What kind of camera are you using? Very talented!

    1. user-6896762 08/04/2017

      Thank you, thank you. It is so nice to share these images with others who enjoy gardening and photography! I am often torn between shooting or weeding. But when it is wet out, photo wins out! I am mostly using an Olympus E-5 , with a Sigma 150mm for the macros.

      1. CountryMouse103 08/04/2017

        Thanks. I know how you feel, but shooting usually wins out for me!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/04/2017

    Love a meadow. Sure wish my situation was where I could have one. Beautiful work you have done.

  5. user-6896762 08/04/2017

    Thanks so much. The field was tilled and then hand seeded with a meadow mix from a local seed company. The old grass was not really removed, although I did try to remove rocks and even up the soil. The area is mowed once a year in the spring.

    1. deb_holt 08/07/2017

      Kathy, we have a meadow that's becoming overwhelmed with goldenrod. We are so discouraged. If you're willing, we would love to pick your brain. We are in Wexford (are you anywhere near us?) and could email you with pictures if you're willing to offer some advice. I'm at holtcpa@gmailcom if you are willing to correspond!
      Deb (my photos were up a few days ago in the FG email)

      1. user-6896762 08/09/2017

        Hi Deb,
        I would love to hear about your meadow and the goldenrod issue! we are not too far away in western PA!

        1. deb_holt 08/14/2017

          We planted native perennials with some annual grasses the first year and it was fine for a year or two until the goldenrod showed up. How do you keep the weeds under control? This is what ours looks like this year. Can't see the perennials for all the weeds.

          1. user-6896762 08/15/2017

            Hi Deb,
            I wonder what the original seed mix contained. Do you happen to have a list?
            I can see your concern. Can you send a closer view of the goldenrod and the roots? Do you have any idea what type?

          2. deb_holt 08/15/2017


            We can take this offline if you're willing to email me privately at [email protected]. Here's the mix info:

            I'll get you some closeups.


          3. user-6896762 08/16/2017

            Interesting mix; seems that there are no grasses.

  6. user-6896762 08/04/2017

    Hello Diane,
    Thanks. The meadow is a fun place to photograph. Glad you enjoyed it as well!
    We did not remove the grass after tilling, although some rocks and other large debris were removed before it was seeded. The entire area is mown once a year, but the paths and perimeter are mown regularly to keep things tidy.

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/04/2017

    I love the bee's-eye view of the flowers in pictures 3, 4,and 5...the intricate details are truly fascinating. Is that a variety of panicum (switch grass) in photo #6? If so, do you have a preferred variety or did you start out with several different ones? It's so nice to have the mowed path to encourage taking walks that puts you right in the middle of all the beauty.

    1. user-6896762 08/07/2017

      Sorry not to get this to you sooner! Glad you enjoyed the meadow! I have been traveling, and will check on the exact grasses in the mix as soon as possible. I looked up the grass you mentioned, however, and I do believe it is in the mix. Does photo of seed heads, below, help?

      1. user-6896762 08/09/2017

        Hello Meanderer! The major grass in our mix used in that area is Big Bluestem "Niagara", with smaller portions of Sideoats Grama, Virginia Wilsrye and Indiangrass.
        In the flowering area, the primary grass used was Little Bluestem "Fort Indiantown Gap".

        Actually, the grass in the photo I cannot determine.

        1. User avater
          meander_michaele 08/13/2017

          Thanks, Kathy, for all the identifications. I just saw your response now.

  8. Sunshine111 08/04/2017

    So beautiful! It is nice to see flowers like these in such a non traditional setting. You have done a great job!

  9. lynnedale 08/04/2017

    I admire your tenacity! Could you tell us more about the process? How large an area did you convert? Did you do it all at once or start small?

    1. user-6896762 08/09/2017

      Hi Lynne, we took a giant step and converted about one acre all at once about 4 years ago. It was not very promising at first, but grew thicker and taller every year. Each year brings surprises:this year was the first year that one species, Ohio spiderwort, appeared!

  10. user-7007960 08/04/2017

    Thx Kathy for sharing your wildflower meadow, a first that I've seen from this Blog. It is lovely! I know how much you must enjoy it, as I had one for 6 years. We loved watching the birds, butterflies and bees enjoy it too! Ours was on 1/4 acre hillside, so was an answer to the mowing problem. We mowed only in late Fall , after frost. It was originally tilled and hydro seeded. W picked rocks off! The flowers gradually thinned out and we reseeded by hand. The woodchucks were a problem and ate new sprouts. We moved away, but the new owner keeps the wild wildflower hill there! Good Luck with your venture, an interesting, ever changing garden!

    1. user-6896762 08/07/2017

      Carol, Your meadow must have been awesome! What a great idea for a slope. I can just imagine what an expansive view that must have created. Did you have any trouble with erosion? Did you select species to help control erosion in any way?

    2. user-7007960 08/07/2017

      We did not have a problem of erosion. It was planted so thick, it was good sod. We got the seed in pounds from a place on Vermont, and a landscaper hyroseeded it initially. It did thin out from flowers tho, so we reseeded by hand. It was full of teasel before then, so an improvement!

  11. Chris_N 08/04/2017

    Great looking meadow and wonderful photos, Kathy. I really liked the dew drop photo. Your local seed company did a good job choosing species for the mix and you've obviously worked hard getting it established.

    1. user-6896762 08/07/2017

      Chris, Yes, I was lucky to have a good local seed company with experience. A meadow in the morning dew is a magical place! Thank you

  12. hontell 08/04/2017

    Love your meadow, hope you enjoy it for many years.

  13. user-6896190 08/04/2017


  14. sheila_schultz 08/04/2017

    Meadows can be challenging to create and keep true to their native roots, but you have created quite the beauty! Your photography ain't half bad either, great close-up images!

  15. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 08/04/2017

    That's marvelous, Kathy. I bet it's marvelous wildlife and pollinator refuge.
    Nice detail shots, too!

  16. VikkiVA 08/04/2017

    Oh Kathy, such beautiful pictures. Patience is a gardeners mantra and it has really paid off for you with this meadow. I love it. The picture of the water droplet is magnificent. Vikki in VA

  17. user-4297063 08/04/2017

    Beautiful Kathy

  18. wittyone 08/04/2017

    What a great job you have done here. I know it takes a lot of patience and work to get a prairie going and thriving. I just attended a presentation at a local enterprise that does ecological consultation and restoration. When asked whether they ever grew or used hybrid plants in their work they said that they didn't. Their reason was that they believed that native plants provided more nutritional benefits for pollinators than hybrids. That's a reason for growing native plants that I had never considered and sounds reasonable. So you are doing the pollinators in your area a great service not only by providing a food source but a good quality of food as well.

    1. user-6896762 08/09/2017

      Thanks for your support! We do hope to attract and sustain native pollinators and birds. So far the bees have been plentiful, as well as some birds, such as the goldfinches. But I have felt there are fewer butterflies than I had hoped. Perhaps it is still too early in the season! I tend to get outside before the day heats up, and my timing may not favor seeing the butterflies. Have noted quite a few hummingbird moths in the monarda in the evening.

  19. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 08/04/2017

    Good morning, Kathy, from the hot, smoky PNW. A meadow like yours would be so much fun to have but our grass doesn't grow in the summer so it would just look brown unless we watered which would not be feasible, so I'm quite jealous. You have captured the feel of your meadow beautifully and your macro shots are amazing. Thanks for a lovely share this morning.

  20. gardencook 08/04/2017

    Beautiful meadow garden and I also must say that someone is a wonderful photographer!!!! I particularly like cone flowers and your garden certainly shows them at their best!!! Enjoy!!!

  21. user-7007498 08/04/2017

    Kathy, I love the meadow you have created. The pictures are awesome. How large is your property and how much of it is the meadow?

    It is great that you are doing your part for insects that support our birds and for the pollinators. Thanks for sharing and inspiring all of us.

    1. user-6896762 08/09/2017

      Hi Kevin, Thanks so much for your kind comments. We are lucky to have a small farm here in western PA, and have fields that are used for hay. Seeing that cut down all the time was difficult when the birds and butterflies were using that space as well. So having this meadow is a sanctuary that we can all enjoy! the meadow is about 1.3 acres.

  22. user-7007059 08/04/2017

    Macro photos highlight the amazing and minute details that so often get overlooked. Love all your macros and your dewdrop photo is perfect! (nice meadow garden, too!)

  23. swcosmos 08/04/2017

    Wow. What a terrific photographer you are, not to mention garden designer. The meadow is my favorite thing on the in Zone 8, it's quite tricky to create. Being from Illinois and Wisconsin, this is a joy to see!

  24. NCYarden 08/04/2017

    Love the nature reclamation. The macro shots are wonderful too---sweet little details.

  25. user-5627921 08/04/2017

    Wow! What a beautiful meadow. The mown path is so inviting -- I feel like I could just walk right in!

    Your photos are stunning. I love close-up photos that show the details of flowers, and yours are some of the best I've seen. I especially love the water droplet!

  26. user-7008735 08/05/2017

    Thank you for sharing your lovely images, Kathy! I find the intricate structures of flowers to be most intriguing, so I love your close-up shots. That drop of water is special.

  27. Cenepk10 08/05/2017

    Fabulous... I love it. Down my country road - so many meadow & shady treats. Then... the county comes & mows it down. Right in it's glory.

  28. foxglove12 08/06/2017

    Your Meadow and the closups are beautiful! Love the photo of the droplet!

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