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Meadow Lark

Turning a one-note lawn into a panoramic symphony



Does your lawn sway in the breeze? Is it teeming with pollinators and quivering with color? No? Consider joining the meadow movement.

Tina Duncan was driving up to her home in Connecticut recently and did a little experiment. On one side of the driveway lies her meadow filled with an array of various grasses and wildflowers, so she rolled down the window. “It was humming, buzzing, and clicking with all sorts of sounds.” On her neighbor’s side is a swath of manicured lawn. “Totally silent,” she says. And that realization confirmed one of the perks inherent in hosting a meadow. It’s not only about you.

A meadow is a boon for all creatures, great and small. Got an entry drive that is seriously ho-hum? Or maybe you have a slope that’s hell to mow. And how about harnessing some land with soil too lean to support lawn? A meadow might pose the perfect solution. Instead of patchy grass or stubbly weeds, you could host a botanical broadloom of wildflowers bouncing with birds, bees, and butterflies. 

The Duncan meadow is a good example of a challenging site given a new career that employs critters up and down the food chain. To achieve it, Tina and Woodson Duncan collaborated with Larry Weaner of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates. A specialist in native landscapes, Weaner has decades of experience in creating meadows. Based in Pennsylvania, he comes up to Connecticut frequently to install meadows for clients who want an ecologically friendly approach to stewarding their land. 

The Duncans’ hilltop home is accessed by a long driveway adjacent to a section of dry, hot, sloped land that is unsuitable for shrubbery or a tidy lawn. And it’s a large chunk of property—nearly four acres. The couple wanted their meadow to be organic, which meant transforming the grass sod already in place. Weaner’s team sprayed the sod with an organic vinegar-based herbicide to weaken the lawn grass. Simultaneously, they changed the soil’s pH to discourage sod while giving wildflowers the conditions they love. Then they created custom seed mixes that would thrive in the soil, light, and moisture available onsite.

Meadows-in-a-can they are not. It was a slow process, but the meadow triumphed. In fact, the naturally lean slope worked in its favor. Fertilizer that feeds hungry sod was withheld, the lawn grass was starved, and wildflower seedlings adapted to living in a less fertile environment were given a chance to get a leg up. Uniquely suitable to survival where lawn grass roots shrivel, ornamental grasses such as little bluestem and big bluestem as well as wildflowers like blue-eyed grass, lupines, mountain mint, butterfly weed, and beebalm were able to get a foothold.

Meanwhile, the Duncans enjoyed dividends far beyond their expectations. “I hadn’t thought about the insects,” Tina admits. But after hearing Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2009), speak at a local symposium, she realized the full potential of the habitat she had created. She went home and looked more closely. Sure enough, “I had giant walking sticks and rhinoceros beetles. There are hundreds and hundreds of dragonflies. At night, the fireflies dance around. There’s so much more life in a meadow,” she says. 

And bugs are just the beginning. Where insects flourish, birds follow. Bobolinks, meadowlarks, and other grassland nesting birds attract innumerable feathered visitors. Skunks, opossums, foxes, bobcats, turtles, and other critters also take full advantage. A kestrel has been observed soaring overhead. “And kestrel populations are crashing,” says Tina.

Initially, the Duncans thought their new habitat would be on autopilot after the initial installation. Wrong. “Staying on top of things is key. You have to take care of a meadow,” Tina says. Rogueing out invasive plants is an ongoing chore. In addition, the meadow must be mowed annually in late winter to keep it from turning into scrubland. All told, a meadow might require just as much maintenance as a lawn timewise, but fossil fuel usage is diminished for its upkeep. “And meadows sequester carbon,” Tina adds.

The meadow is a never-ending evolution, giving way to a different picture season after season. Tending one in tandem with nature is a fascinating stewardship project. “I had no idea how beautiful this could be,” says Tina, who has become an advocate for the movement. The Duncans are not the only ones hoping neighbors give meadows a chance. A whole horde of dragonflies feels the same way.

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April 2018

Earth Day with The Wildlife Line FREE admission ~ You’re invited, to come and celebrate ( : Sunday April 22nd, from 11-4, at beautiful Harrybrooke Park, in New Milford, CT. Live...

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100 Still River Drive
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Sponsor: Harrybrooke Park
Telephone: 860-799-6520
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Smyrski Farm
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Sponsor: Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust
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Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

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Litchfield History Museum
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
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Cost: Free

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Cost: free

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Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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Cost: free

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Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: (860)868-9003
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Cost: Free

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Cost: Free

Where:
Smyrski Farm
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View map »


Sponsor: Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust
Telephone: 860-927-1927
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Cost: Free

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Cost: Free

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Byrde + the b
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Cost: Free

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Gunn Memorial Library
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust
Telephone: 860-927-1927
Contact Name: Elizabeth
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Cost: Free

Where:
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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New Morning Market
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
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Curious about meditation? Come experience an hour of guided meditation and sound healing aimed to help you release tension, sleep better, and cultivate overall happiness. No prior experience...

Cost: 15.00

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Sponsor: New Morning Market
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Cost: free

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Sponsor: The Smithy Store
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
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Cost: Free

Where:
Smyrski Farm
237 Merryall Road
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View map »


Sponsor: Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust
Telephone: 860-927-1927
Contact Name: Elizabeth
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
KMR Arts
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View map »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Harrison “Whitey” Jenkins new artwork opens on Friday April 6 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Washington CT abstract artist, April Crumrine. April’s series of brightly colored paintings will be on view from April 12 through May 20, 2018. An artist’s...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Five Points Gallery Annex
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(2 Doors Down from Main Gallery)
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View map »


Sponsor: Five Points Gallery Annex
Telephone: 917-301-4397
Contact Name: Pamela McCann
Website »

More information

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Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

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For her senior project, Shepaug Valley High School student and artist Sierra Soletsky researched art rehabilitation programs, a topic that reflects both her love for art and her interest in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
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View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Smyrski Farm
237 Merryall Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust
Telephone: 860-927-1927
Contact Name: Elizabeth
Website »

More information

KMR arts presents the work of renowned artist and visionary Kim Keever  Opening reception is on Saturday April 7th at 3-6 p.m.  Keever's landscapes evoke the aesthetic...

Cost: Free

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
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View map »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Harrison “Whitey” Jenkins new artwork opens on Friday April 6 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

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Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Washington CT abstract artist, April Crumrine. April’s series of brightly colored paintings will be on view from April 12 through May 20, 2018. An artist’s...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

For her senior project, Shepaug Valley High School student and artist Sierra Soletsky researched art rehabilitation programs, a topic that reflects both her love for art and her interest in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Website »

More information

Connecticut's vernal pools are about to fill with life! Vernal pools are used by many species and are essential to supporting the health and biodiversity of our forests. Animals that rely on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Smyrski Farm
237 Merryall Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust
Telephone: 860-927-1927
Contact Name: Elizabeth
Website »

More information

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Cost: 15.00

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St N
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

More information

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Cost: 25.00

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St N
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

More information

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Cost: suggested donation of $10

Where:
Kent Art Association Gallery
21 So. Main St.
Kent , CT
View map »


Telephone: 860-927-3989
Website »

More information

KMR arts presents the work of renowned artist and visionary Kim Keever  Opening reception is on Saturday April 7th at 3-6 p.m.  Keever's landscapes evoke the aesthetic...

Cost: Free

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington , CT  06794
View map »

More information

Little Free Library at StoneHill, an official partner with the global nonprofit littlefreelibrary.org, has built, painted, planted and registered 50+ small lending library boxes throughout the...

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Michael's Community House
23 South Street
Just off the Litchfield Green
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Little Free Library at StoneHill
Telephone: 860-567-4456
Contact Name: Jo Ann Jaacks
Website »

More information

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Cost: $20

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
44 Upland Road
NEW MILFORD, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Harrison “Whitey” Jenkins new artwork opens on Friday April 6 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

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Cost: $75

Where:
Litchfield Distillery
569 Bantam Road
Litchfield, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free - donations graciously accepted

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St N
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

More information

Fine Line Art Gallery in Woodbury is excited to announce its annual event, Connecticut Artists’ Spring Show, on April 27, 28, and 29.  This exhibition draws crowds from the tri-state...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will host Washington CT abstract artist, April Crumrine. April’s series of brightly colored paintings will be on view from April 12 through May 20, 2018. An artist’s...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Show More...
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