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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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September 2017

Admission to each garden is $7 for members and nonmembers without tickets purchased in advance. Buy discounted admission tickets in advance! They never expire and can be used at most Open...

Where:
Various Locations
, CT


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Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
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SURVIVING TRUMP: HISTORY PREDICTS THE FUTURE with TIMOTHY SNYDER   Author of "On Tyranny" & Yale Historian  & JENNIFER RUBIN  Washington Post...

Cost: $45 - $250 per person

Where:
St. John's Church - Parish Hall
9 Parsonage Lane
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Conversations On the Green
Telephone: 203-947-1968
Contact Name: Laura Neminski
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Enjoy the Irish ambiance at Ives Concert Park in Danbury and take a musical trip to the Emerald Isle! There will be lots of different bands throughout the weekend. Plus a cultural tent,...

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Ives Concert Park
GPS Address: 43 Lake Avenue Extension
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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
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 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
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Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
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Join us as we welcome Mark Scarbrough, a scholar on 19th Century American literature, as he leads a five week session exploring literature, politics and culture in the United States through the...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
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The WCSU Student Veterans Organization and Danbury Animal Welfare Society will host "Pets and Vets" from noon to 3 p.m. on the Midtown campus Quadrangle, 181 White St. in Danbury. A...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06810
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Website »

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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

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The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

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Ages 13+ Staff Instructor Menu:  Created from a “Mystery Basket” which will include a protein, vegetable, starch, fruit, and of course … Chocolate! Class...

Cost: $50.00 per person

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
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WCSU will present the Midtown Coffeehouse at 8 p.m. in the Colonial Corner in the Student Center on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. The coffeehouse will feature an...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

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CT Largest Agricultural Fair has pretty much everything! Performances by Brothers Osborne, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Military appreciation Day with USO Show, new this year a Lumberjack...

Cost: Free-$35 (not including rides)

Where:
24 Townhouse Road
Durham, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

CT Largest Agricultural Fair has pretty much everything! Performances by Brothers Osborne, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Military appreciation Day with USO Show, new this year a Lumberjack...

Cost: Free-$35 (not including rides)

Where:
24 Townhouse Road
Durham, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday, September 23rd, strut your mutt at the Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden’s Annual Dog Show. This Fido-festival celebrates dogs of all shapes and sizes- from the...

Cost: $15

Where:
Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden
9 Main Street North
Bethlehem, CT  06106
View map »


Sponsor: CT Landmarks
Telephone: 203-266-7596
Website »

More information

CT on Tap is back for its 4th year on Saturday, September 23rd at Ives Concert Park from 3pm – 6pm (VIP at 2pm). This 3-hour premium event will showcase 100+ releases from some of...

Cost: Advance $35 or $40, Door $45, VIP $55

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Sponsor: Ives Concert Park
Telephone: 203-837-9226
Contact Name: Ives Concert Park
Website »

More information

Celebrating Family, Art and Fun at the Washington Art Association & Gallery’s Harvest Barn Party at The Silo September 23, 2017   The Washington Art Association & Gallery...

Cost: $45 PP $10 Children

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

CT Largest Agricultural Fair has pretty much everything! Performances by Brothers Osborne, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Military appreciation Day with USO Show, new this year a Lumberjack...

Cost: Free-$35 (not including rides)

Where:
24 Townhouse Road
Durham, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
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