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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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Profiles

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September 2017

 The Litchfield Historical Society and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy invite you for a book talk and reception on Sunday, September 24 at 3 p.m. with Roger D. Stone, author of the...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society and Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


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

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  06059
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

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The WCSU Alumni Association will host The Neil Wagner Golf Outing with a 10 a.m. shotgun start at the Richter Park Golf Club, 100 Aunt Hack Road in Danbury. Proceeds from the annual event will...

Cost: $175

Where:
Richter Park Golf Club
100 Aunt Hack Road
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

Painter Stanley Lewis will discuss his work at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The event will...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

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
View map »


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

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Author, Filmmaker and Educator, Tom Shachtman, will offer a visual presentation followed by a signing on his recently published book, How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors Diplomats, Luis...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

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


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, 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 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

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For over 30 years, Green Chimneys has been opening its doors to the community for Little Folk Farm Day, welcoming scores of young people to explore our bustling Brewster campus. Play groups,...

Cost: infants under 2 - Free; Adults - Free; Children 2 & older -@ $10

Where:
Green Chimneys
400 Doansburg Rd.
Brewster, NY  10509
View map »


Sponsor: Green Chimneys
Telephone: 845-279-2995 ext 307
Contact Name: Gail Dickerman
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, 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...

The White Hart Speaker Series is presented in collaboration with Oblong Books & Music & Scoville Memorial Library ADMISSION IS FREE.  THE PURCHASE OF A BOOK AT THE EVENT SUPPORTS...

Cost: Free

Where:
White Hart Inn
15 Under Mountain Road
Salisbury, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, 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 Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
Contact Name: Vera Halina
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...

WCSU will present the "Best Darn Jazz Club in Danbury" at 8 p.m. in the Colonial Corner in the Student Center on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, 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...

Little Free Library Stewards Rose Buckens and Jo Ann Jaacks will host a combined indoor tag sale fundraiser and informational gathering at St. Michael’s Community House, 23 South Street, just...

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: 203-770-4156
Contact Name: Rose Buckens
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society’s Saturday morning walking tours are exploring new sites in town. Each tour lasts about an hour—make sure to bring a bottle of water and wear...

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

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


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

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, 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...

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