The Meadow Report
The Meadow Report
The latest developments from the mini-habitat project.
The above pic is of my flower border along the driveway, planted mostly in deer-resistant Coneflowers, Helianthus, Shasta daisy, Tithonia (a real champion performer this year, and easy to grow from seed), and Blue aster. I also have Russian sage, and peaking in June/early July, Foxglove, Daylilies, ornamental onions, Monarda.
Notably, just in the past week (early September), I’ve seen three Monarch butterflies, and one Black swallowtail…while so far, no sign at all of recovery for the Tiger swallowtail population.
All the flowers of the Compositae family, many of those mentioned above, are attractive after they’ve gone to seed, to feeding goldfinches.
The backyard meadow takes up only about a quarter of the lawn. But in the year since I’ve let things alone there, I keep making new discoveries, new things that have taken root.
Some tall grasses, with a seedhead filamentous like a dandelion and bluish leaves, are dominating the stretch so far. I’m also getting Goldenrod, Wild Aster, and Black-eyed Susan. The fireflies have been strong this year; I think the little patch of natural growth helps them, as well as the butterfly larvae.
Meadow and prairie plants dig their roots deeper, thick foliage shelters the soil from the drying sun, retaining dew, sometimes well into the afternoon. The microclimate improves at once over close-cut lawn grass that roots near the surface and prevents rainwater from pentrating. Somewhere around the brush pile, I’ve had toads trilling as well this year.
This grass, with a big, purple-tinted seedhead, is beautiful and decorative, but I don’t know whether the seeds came on the wind, or from a garden. I have a lot of deer crossing through my yard, and rabbits. I’ve spotted no creatures of more interest, though I always have squirrels, chipmunks and voles, Chickadees, Carolina wrens, Cardinals, Starlings, Blue Jays, Downy woodpeckers, Flickers, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Titmice.
Of course, I get travelling outdoor cats.
Fall projects: Rake leaves into path configurations, to keep the natural area navigable, and cut out all the little sprouting trees.
(2018, Stephanie Foster)