Restoration of our fifth meadow has begun! Help us fund these efforts to restore native habitat, and bring back Beatrix Farrand’s original design. Meadow #5 is the last of the Park’s warm-season grass meadows to undergo restoration, part of a multi-year effort begun in 2011, shortly after the Conservancy’s founding. At the time, the meadows had been badly encroached upon, both by the woodland edge, which had originally served as a border to the landscape, and by invasive plants and vines.
The meadows were a central element of Farrand’s design for the Park. She created five open “rooms” from pre-existing pastureland using linear stands of trees to provide a sense of separation between each of the spaces. The meadows were enhanced with plantings of specimen trees, and swathes of perennials and spring-flowering bulbs. As they proceeded through the Park, visitors would catch glimpses of grassland dappled with sunlight through the foliage, providing a linear progression of destination points within the landscape.
Initial restoration efforts were begun in 2011, with the help of volunteers who worked by hand to cut back the woodland and remove the invasive plant species. Then, in June and July of 2014, the Conservancy launched its Meadow’s Pilot Project, working with Rock Creek Park and meadow restoration experts Larry Weaner Landscape Associates to treat invasive plants in Meadows #1 and #2 and seed the areas with native grass. In 2015, with the additional help of Montgomery County Conservation Corps, Meadows #3 and #4 followed.
On Friday, November 4th, 2016, Brint Nicolai of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates was on-hand to direct seeding of the final meadow with a mixture of species, including hair grass, sedges, bottlebrush grass, beaked panic grass, little bluestem, purpletop, and wild rye. We expect to see our new grasses start to appear in late spring and hope that by fall of 2017 this area will show the same lush growth that our other meadows have. Fencing will remain in place around Meadow #5 for one year to help the grasses establish and regular mowings will promote the growth of the warm-season grasses and discourage the re-emergence of cool-season invasives. The year 2019 will mark this project complete! With regular maintenance we expect our meadows to provide a wonderful place for our visitors to come and enjoy the landscape, as well as new habitat for ground-nesting birds, box turtles, and other Park denizens.