Back to The Making of a Meadow

The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 9

9/16/2022 6:17 pm


The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 9

Are there flowers?


The 11.5-acre McFarlane Nature Park is the site of a meadow – planted a year ago in 2021.

As promised the goldenrod, Solidago, have begun to show their yellow blooms, favorites of the bees.  Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida, began blooming in August, although not in the abundance hoped for.  The distinctive clusters of Heliopsis helianthoides leaves, False Sunflower, delivered sparsely.


Planting of Asclepias tuberosa, the orange butterfly weed, was delayed by the extreme heat.  The plugs were babied through the summer in their flats and have now been moved up to individual containers.  One flat of 50 plugs was devastated by a large, fat cutworm, but Asclepias have substantial tap roots and are not easily discouraged. The tap roots, even on these small plugs, are as big around as a pencil and aim straight down to reach the depths of the soil. The new, fresh growth appeared almost right away after the invader was discovered. 

It has been difficult to distinguish the two planted grasses from those that were already occurring in the pasture. The Andropogon ‘Blackhawks’, with purple flushed blades is evident but not dominant. I have been unable to identify the existing grasses, which have turned tan and gone to seed. 


This first season has been somewhat disappointing, but I expect we will cut the meadow in February, when the plants are dormant, to allow light and spring rain to encourage the hundreds of seeds waiting there.  I am hoping for more surprises during the second year of growth in this experimental meadow.  - Karin Guzy