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The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 2

2/27/2022 4:56 pm

The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 2


The wisdom of others.


The 11.5-acre McFarlane Nature Park had a section of pasture that no one really used. The seed of an idea began - to establish a meadow – not a garden. A messy area filled with native plants where we could grow ourselves some insects.  Hopefully, an increased population of insects would also bring us more birds.


Since I knew practically nothing about starting a meadow, I began to research the experience of others. Providentially, an episode of the Joe Gardener Show addressed the idea. Articles appeared in various of the horticulture magazines that I receive. Emails arrived from online sources that specialize in native plants and meadows-in-a-can. I came across Youtube videos and blogs. The universe was answering me. 


Sarah Roberts, at the Atlanta History Center, designed a small meadow garden for an unlikely spot in their parking lot.  It was beautifully designed while not a formal space - exactly what I had in mind.


The only thing that puzzled me is that almost everyone promoted the idea of kill and till - spray glyphosate, cover with cardboard, or solarize, to remove the existing vegetation.Then till, wait for nascent seeds to sprout and start again. A clean pallet. When I looked at the pasture, I could see that the existing grasses would occupy the cleaned space in a moment, negating the impact of those efforts. 


As I am prone to do, I followed my own path. McFarlane has good soil. Years of growing beans, followed by the pasturing of polo ponies, and the last 29 years of cutting and leaving the cut grasses to decompose, have yielded a reasonably friable soil. I decided to have the caretaker cut the grasses as short as possible and the run his industrial-sized aerator over the allocated space three or four times, to loosen things up. Then we would plant and let the plants fight among themselves, as they do in nature.


It was time to plan what plants we would use. 


Stay with me and I will try to document the growth of this idea, not knowing if it ends in success or failure.


NEXT: The Plant List