“Pictorial Meadows”, Multicolored Flower Meadows of Enormous Ornamental Value That Help to Improve the Climate

Pictorial meadow is the translation of the English term ” Pictorial Meadow “, an expression coined by professors Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough, of the University of Sheffield, to distinguish their colorful and picturesque floral meadows from conventional wildflower meadows. In comparison, the seed mixtures of the pictorial meadows are much more floriferous and colorful than those of the wild meadows, in addition to having a longer flowering period. Its advantages do not end there, so we have found it interesting to deepen them.

The meadows covered with wildflowers have a long tradition in the countries of northern Europe. There the climate favors them, they grow naturally for a long period of time, filling fields and gardens with a bright color. Their success also has a certain cultural character: people respect the gardens and take care of them, do not trample on them or pluck flowers, and ensure that their pets do not wander at will.

In Mediterranean countries, we still do not approach the sensitivity they feel for the garden. It is true that we have large gardens and gardeners, but there are still few who carry gardening in the blood. Experimentation in private gardening is scarce and public attention is not given much attention to the landscaping. They seem to not understand how important it is for climate improvement and the well-being of the population.

Even so, I am surprised to see how some advances reach our territory, even if they do so at a dose of drops. Naturalist plantations appear in our gardens and I wonder how some  Spanish gardeners have reinterpreted them to make them work. Naturally inspired pictorial meadows have been growing in our spaces for some years (not many) thanks to landscapers such as Miguel García Ovejero, Forestry Engineer specialized in Landscape Architecture at the English school in Sheffield.

Pictorial meadows of the London Olympic Park

It all started with the annual flower meadows that Dunnet and Hitchmough created in the London Olympic Park. The landscapers prepared a carefully selected seed mix to sow in those fields. The result, when the plants grew, was a success. The impressionist painting aspect of the prairies was so beautiful that all park visitors applauded its beauty.

Flower meadows for urban gardens

The urban meadows, as they are also known, were installed in other areas. They were implanted in small urban gardens, roundabouts and shopping centers, as an alternative to the usual bushes. The reason for their success is that they have a fabulous aesthetic, need less water than a lawn meadow and are very attractive to pollinating insects.

Multicolored flower meadows

The Pictorial Meadows company has been researching in the production of seed mixtures for years to create flower meadows specially adapted to certain conditions: annual plant mixtures, perennial mixtures, green roof seeds, urban meadows, country meadows or Mediterranean meadow seeds are some of them. There are different color combinations of each type and even some with a special emphasis on attracting pollinating insects.

The meadows can be made up of annual or perennial species. The former has rapid growth and rapid results are obtained, blooming in a few weeks. The drawback is that you have to reseed periodically. The latter requires between two or three years to reach their peak, but once established they have a longer flowering period and last many years without having to reseed.

Impressionist meadows full of colors

In Britain they have a unique success and, to show, these are some naturalistic meadows that fill British gardens with color :

Multicolored flower meadow adapted to the Mediterranean environment

Fortunately, more and more Spanish gardeners and landscapers have the concern to improve gardening in our country. During his years of study in  Sheffield, Miguel García Ovejero considered how to incorporate multicolored flower meadows into gardens in our latitudes. While developing a thesis on the cultural perception in Spain of naturalistic plantations, he worked as a volunteer at Pictorial Meadows in the search for the most appropriate seeds for our climatic region.

In collaboration with his companions in England, who look for the most appropriate seeds and design the mixtures, Miguel is responsible for implanting the grasslands in our territory, seeing how they evolve, proposing improvements and making them known.

His first personal experiments were followed by more systematic tests carried out with the company. A few years later a first real essay arrived, the plantation in the park of Felipe VI in Valdebebas, and later the installation of pictorial meadows in the Royal Botanic Garden.

Flower mixes for a dry climate garden

The mixtures used in this project are specifically designed so that they can be used in all regions with a Mediterranean climate. They combine seeds of annual and perennial plants native to the Mediterranean with dry garden plants to minimize water needs.

The grass is giving way to the prairies in our gardens

The meadow contributes to water saving

If there is something that horrifies me to see in public gardens it is artificial grass. I have nothing against who uses it in the garden of his house; I don’t like it, but God frees me to criticize what another puts in his garden. What I can’t do is with those roundabouts covered in green plastic that I occasionally find myself when I’m driving. I can understand that municipalities need to save a resource as important as water, but there are other alternatives that are not plasticizing the earth. Experts say that flower meadows are the best alternative when you want to avoid excessive water consumption.

The following image shows the meadow installed by various associations and neighbors in the area, under the advice and supervision of Miguel García Ovejero, to cover the site of the Matadero in Madrid.

Flower meadows for the Mediterranean garden

They appeared in the United Kingdom, but these flower meadows are less and less exclusive to the English garden. After years of research and experimentation, Pictoral Meadows has developed seed mixtures designed to fill the gardens of the Mediterranean region with plants resistant to our hot and dry environment. They are meadows that include Iberian species, but also many species from other parts of the planet.

A frequent question that Miguel is asked and that he likes to make clear is that Pictorial Meadows meadows mean a reduction in water consumption compared to conventional grass, but in a Mediterranean climate, they have to be watered too!

And it is understandable, sometimes we confuse the terms and believe that what in other latitudes can be maintained without irrigation, here too. Our climate is so extreme that there is no plant that resists our dry and steamy summers without its necessary dose of water. Maybe some succulent, but that’s another story.

The following image is the result of the pictorial meadow installed in the Botanical Garden of Madrid.

Flower meadows in the Turia Garden (Valencia)

I loved discovering that here in my city, Valencia, some public parks have installed Mediterranean flower meadows. In some sections of the Turia Garden, of which I have spoken to you on other occasions, the traditional lawn has been replaced by meadows of country flowers. The aesthetic impact is fabulous and the hope of reducing resources is a great incentive. The prairie, designed by Vicente Valcárcel and Juanjo Usó, was planted by the students of the first and second year of Official Gardening. These new meadows mix dozens of plant species that bloom for several months, giving a fascinating visual spectacle.

Naturalistic meadows that favor biodiversity

These meadows of natural aesthetics and full of flowers have many advantages over the lawn. The reduction of water consumption is something very significant but, in addition, they are cut less frequently and contribute to the biological diversity of the garden, attracting, with its flowers, pollinating insects.

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