The old word 'mead' (meadwo) or 'meadow' described an area of mowed land, as distinct from grazed land, cultivated land or waste land. The meadow was cut with scythe to provide winter fodder (hay) for animals. Cutting the land stopped the ecological succession to woodland and favoured the growth of flowering plants, because (1) the fertility of the soil was diminished (2) competition from grass was reduced. Meadows therefore became associated with a profusion of flowers and the creation of a 'flowery mead' was propular in medieval gardens.
See also: history of planting design.
Meadow planting in a medieval garden
Meadow planting on disturbed soil