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The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 5

4/18/2022 2:44 pm

The Making of McFarlane Meadow - Part 5

Finally – Planting Day


The 11.5-acre McFarlane Nature Park, was the site of a planned meadow – 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.


An area about 9’ x 30’ in a lightly used area of the back pasture was staked out. The caretaker cut the existing pasture grasses as short as possible and then made 3-4 passes with an industrial size aerator to loosen the soil, just before planting.


The 332 landscape plugs had arrived and seven Sope Creek Garden Club members, as well as two neighbors, showed up at the Park on October 9, 2021, armed with poaching shovels, plug planters and trowels. Ten young men from Boy Scout Troop 1011, seeking service hours, also brought tools to help with digging holes. 



Seeds of Piedmont-native perennials were spread before the planting of the landscape plugs. It was hoped that gardeners walking on the site during planting would aid in putting these seeds into better contact with the disturbed soil.  


We examined the planting plan and set out to dig small vertical holes for the 5” x 2” square landscape plugs. Many of the plants looked dismal at this end of the growing season, but the all-important roots looked robust.


Some of the members brought additional plants to donate to the project. Helianthus angustifolius, Swamp sunflower; Coelestinum, the hardy ageratum; and Salvia lyrata, Lyre-leaf Sage. All of these can run rampant in a civilized garden, but were welcome additions to this intentionally wild space. Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ and Stokesia were divided from my garden to join the fray. 


The ensuing chaos was productive, with everyone doing their part to install the array of plants in the space allotted.  The space increased to about 10’ wide x 40’ long. All was done in short order. With no rain in sight, I drove my vehicle into the pasture, with the 25-gallon water tank in the back, and watered everything in.


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


NEXT: Neighbors give feedback