Gardens & Ecology

Gardening Journal :: Fields of Flowers

Big news on the farm: Jona and I are starting a meadow restoration project! This will likely take a couple of years, if not more to complete. The site of the project is the field at the very front of the farm where we work & live. In reality it isn’t meant to be a field at all and was instead a ultra-manicured lawn for about 20 years under the care of the farm owners. And, like with many high-maintenance projects, this too was abandoned when the owners moved away about 4 years ago.

Between then and now the grasses grew tall and the chicory, thistles,and dandelion flowers grow among the tall grasses. Rodents, birds, bees and butterflies frolic but there is something missing – native wildflowers. Years cutting this huge field into a golf-course like appearance encouraged the growth of only invasive & non-native grasses and flowers. Now, under our care as landscapers & residents we will keep a section as lawn but over half of the expanse is going to be maintained as a meadow which is important habitat for many insects, birds & mammals of all sizes.

As for how we are maintaining this area: we finally broke down and bought a lawn mower. Honestly I never thought I would do such a thing but after a year and a half of taking care of this acre of field with only hand tools, a borrowed weed whacker and occasionally the help of a horse, we realized that we would need more power to keep the road & adjacent areas in check. The goal is to use the lawn mower in a minimalistic way – mainly to maintain areas as short grass so that the horse and visiting deer will have a constant supply of fresh grass and that the driveway/road is clear and safe for transit.

And here are the results of our work with hand tools like a scythe & trimming scissors and a few passes with the lawn mower. We are leaving large sections where the grass can grow as it pleases and will be seeding wildflowers in spring.

And in contrast, here are a few photos of a nearby field full of native wildflowers like Topasaire (a local sunflower), Zinnias and another flowers called Siempre Viva. I have been observing these fields all summer and collecting seeds to sew in our own fields when spring comes along. Native wildflowers support important local populations of insects which our ecosystem depends on.

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