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The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 4

4/13/2022 9:25 am

The McFarlane Meadow - Part 4

You’ve Got to Have a Plan 



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.


Having researched methods of starting a meadow, I decided to ignore conventional wisdom. After consulting with the park caretaker about clearance for the big Dixie Chopper lawnmower,  I staked out an area about 9’ x 30’ in a lightly used area of the back pasture.  The plan was to have the caretaker cut the existing pasture grasses as short as possible and then make 3-4 passes with an industrial size aerator to loosen the soil, just before planting.


The 332 plants were scheduled to arrive in early October 2021, so then the question was “Who is going to plant them?” I approached the Sope Creek Garden Club, of which I am a member, and received an enthusiastic response from the members, who regularly support McFarlane. Because none of us are 20 years old anymore, I also reached out to Boy Scout Troop 1011, who were seeking some service hours. 


Seeds of baptisia, liatris, rudbeckia, stokesia and clover would be spread before the planting of the landscape plugs. The gardeners walking on the site during planting would aid in putting these seeds into better contact with the disturbed soil. A planting plan would be loosely followed to position taller plants near the center of the proposed site. One garden club member would be designated to hand out trays of landscape plugs removed from their growing trays. October 9 was chosen as planting day and all eyes were on the weather forecast, hoping for clear skies followed by rain after installation. 


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


NEXT: Installation