January 9, 2023

Meadow Thoughts

We’re working on turning most of the seven mowed acres at our future house/property into a meadow filled with native plants + wildflowers in an attempt to rewild the property a bit, hoping to attract birds, bees, bugs and lots of other critters in order to promote biodiversity. I’ve had some time over the holidays to really sit and work on planning our meadow and it’s been eye-opening. (To check out videos & tours of the property go here)

When I started looking into biodiversity & the importance of meadows for our place last year, I sadly began to realize that as a “nature-lover,” I knew (know!) so very little about what was/ is really going on. What’s really going on is that we have normalized green lawns yards and gardens as the standard operating procedure for land.

What we aren’t realizing, is that everywhere a lawn or perfectly cultivated garden grows is a place that can’t truly support life for bugs, birds & all the other creatures out there. I’ve always loved gardening but never realized its effects on the nature around me.

Image to the left by WEstEnd 61/ Getty Images

I’m JUST getting my feet wet here (and know this will be a long road for me as I have some strong attachments to a few non-native plants) but feel pulled to dig deeper and encourage others to look into it. I’ll keep you posted on our journey.

“Weeds” have always been my favorite… as a kid, they were the plants I interacted with & loved the most as they weren’t “precious” and they were everywhere. I used to make concoctions out of my foraged finds to sell at school and it’s what got me into creating field guides and making “gardens” out of transplanted specimens in the woods behind my house. So it’s the “weeds,” grasses and wildflowers I want on our property- dandelions, clover, buttercups, goldenrod, wild daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, bluebells and so many more!!- mixed with some fruit trees, native woodland plants around the creek and in the woods, and of course a vegetable garden. I’ve planned out generally where I want everything on the property but I know so little about orchards and berry brambles and meadows that I’ve got a lot of learning to do!!

I’m really struggling to figure out how to go about starting our meadow so I’ve been reading all that I can get my hands on. My biggest issue right now is I don’t know how to best get rid of the invasive grass we have growing all over the property and have read so many conflicting things in various books and articles as to how to do it- scrape it off (but then that tears up the mycelium??) rip it out (that’s where we’re started and it will take many many years) goats or pigs (how do we rent them?? I can’t seem to find pigs and they sound more like what I need) controlled burns?? (county regulations sound fun) and etc etc. and I came across the incredible Mary Reynolds- an Irish rewilder/ ex-garden designer – who has written a number of books including THE GARDEN AWAKENING and WE ARE THE ARK.

I watched the movie Dare to Be Wild about her win as the youngest ever contestant in the Chelsea Garden show (her winning design with Moongate entrance is shown in the image above from The Telegraph) and am completely inspired by her way of seeing things and love for nature. (I still feel confused about the best way to clear our land but think Mary’s vote would be for the pigs because they tear out the plants rather than graze them short like goats do and I need to get rid of those roots so I’m on the hunt for rental pigs lol!) Mary has created an entire organization called WE ARE THE ARK dedicated to supporting and educating a community of people who are turning half or more of their yards into safe havens for nature. It’s easy to join -everyone is welcome even if you only have room for a window box or pot of plants!- and the idea is that we can create a patchwork of “ARKS” (Acts of Restorative Kindness towards nature) and wild properties that will eventually connect and create safe havens for nature and its creatures.

I can’t recommend her books highly enough and Mary suggests blessing the property you are working with when you start out. She writes about how in old Ireland, people used to walk their entire properties, blessing them to establish boundary lines and to pray for health for the land and its plants and creatures.

I loved this idea when I read it and have felt a strong connection with our land since we first stepped on it so we decided to give it a go. We had some verrrrrry old holy water from Lourdes (that I had to dilute to get enough of for this!) and Dave and I walked along the order of property to give it a bit of love, as Mary suggests, blessing the land and letting it know we’ll take care of it. I know how crazy it sounds (and for many of you this won’t sound crazy at all) but in our family we constantly send energy/ love to heal each other and those in our lives and people we’re praying for, to the animals around us and to our plants. You can feel it when you get it from a person, animals or a place etc- it’s like souls touching- and it’s very physically detectable. So we went around the entire property sending/ receiving energy and it was really nice.

I also had to share that there’s going to be a lot of temporary disturbance on the property and that it’s going to be louder and messier and the earth is going to get torn up a bit as we go through construction. We had to remove some trees on the property for a small addition and I was feeling a little sad about it so I just said it out loud and felt a little better.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as we move forward! It looks like all of this will be a (life?)long road but as I learn more, I’ll be sure to share. And if anyone knows how I can get some rental pigs to clear the land, please share!! 🙂

xo

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Guest
Hallie
1 year ago

<3

Guest
Gayle
1 year ago

I just found the organization mossy.earth and their wonderful rewilding projects. I’ve joined and thought you might be interested in looking at what they’re doing all over the world with rewilding damaged areas.

Guest
Heidi
1 year ago

I highly recommend nature’s best hope (and his earlier books) by douglas tallamy. he has been researching and highlighting the need for native plants and ecosystems for a long time. He is based in Delaware and has lists of trees and plants that support the greatest diversity.

Guest
Vicki M
1 year ago

What a wonderful idea. You can’t buy a couple pigs and let them slowly work on property in sections?

Guest
1 year ago

We have a hillside that I allow to act as a meadow. It’s not perfect but I have noticed that so many bugs and creatures live in it. I’ve always wanted it to be more diverse… as more of a wildflower area. I planted daffodil bulbs in it that we enjoy in the spring.

I often thought to just scatter packets of Queen Anne’s lace around just to see if any would take hold. I am watching and waiting to see if I should rent pigs first:)

Anyhow, I am a like minded friend in Pennsylvania. Thank you for all of your inspiration. You are my favorite out there!

Guest
Kristi
1 year ago

We have a large backyard that has gradually been getting taken over by clover. This makes me want to leave it alone – and maybe even go farther in that direction and make it a mini-meadow. I’ll enjoy seeing what you do with yours. Thanks for the inspiration!

Guest
1 year ago

This is an excellent idea! I will support you. I hope that you can create an amazing hillside. Have a nice day!

Guest
Bethany Patchin
8 months ago

Hello! I have been on this same learning journey, reading all these same books, trying to figure out the best way to restore native plants on our big (for the city) plot. Ben Vogt who has run a business for fifteen years doing this and authored the book “Prairie Up” basically concludes nothing but careful, targeted glyphosate once per month during the entire growing season, and really dense seeding rates (up to 250 seeds per square inch) have worked for him to truly exhaust the invasives weed seed bank and prevent new ones from infiltrating. (You also need one mow per year in very early spring to stop shrubs and tree saplings from starting ecological succession.) You could also hire designers/consultants like Roy Diblik or Austin Eischeid to come in and help. Lastly, check out Izel Native Plants for plugs at wholesale prices without a wholesale license. Good luck! (Also I still have my old garden roses growing even if they aren’t native, as long as your floral favorites aren’t invasive even Doug Tallamy suggests a 30/70 ratio of non-native to native in your yard.)

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