Contributed by Alice Nicolson and Marian Fuchs
On Friday 8 December, 18 months after Jane Engle, Peter Pfund and Alice Nicolson first walked with a meadow guru around campus to evaluate the status of the various meadow areas, native plants were being installed on the slope below the beehives (on the way to the community center) to form the first flowering meadow on campus – the first of many, perhaps.
“A year from now this will be a thing of beauty,” said the supervisor of the six men doing the soil improvement and planting. The project planting guide gives a glimpse of how things will look. The plan for the left half of the 3000 sq ft meadow is shown below.
The large circles marked Rc will be dwarf sumac shrubs. The smaller dots will combinations of butterfly weed, milkweed, switchgrass, white beardtongue, slender mountain mint, little bluestem, Virginia spiderwort and heartleaf golden Alexander. (Stirring and delightful names!)
Another portion of the planting guide, shown below, shows the color scheme of the flowers and the foliage, and their bloom time.
Preparing the meadow was hard work.
The meadow will consist of native plants, accustomed to growing in our campus soil. So the workmen did not improve the area. Instead the existing lawn grass was killed and each new plant had a hole drilled to receive it. (See the man drilling above right.) As each section was planted, a light layer of mulch was spread (see above left). This willl be the only addition to the planting area. For the first year or two the meadow will be hand-weeded, but after that it will need only a single spring mowing and once-over to remove any invasive tree seedlings.
The meadow already has people who care for it. Snow covered the meadow the day after it was planted, but once the snow melted, the area dried quickly and our new horticulturalist, Kyle Olsen, was seen staying late to give the entire meadow a good watering.
Naming is a nuanced issue here at Collington, but many of us will always think of this area as “Jane’s Meadow.”