Girl Scout Kimmie Francavilla who attends Ursuline High School in New Rochelle, describes her Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project to theloop:
I am currently working on a meadow restoration project at the Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont for my Girl Scout gold award. The goal of this project is to develop and maintain a native wildflower meadow that is sustained by a diversity of wildlife.
The area I am working on was previously a meadow but was badly disturbed by a water main break. Many invasive weeds, such as mugwort, have taken over large areas of the meadow, crowding out the other sustainable plants. My project will replace the weeds with native, eco-friendly plants that are indigenous to the area.
I will identify the plants that are growing in the rest of the meadow and replicate that in the portion of the meadow that I am working on. Some of the plants we are trying to encourage include butterfly weed, perennial gaillardia, tiger lilies, black- eyed susan, dogbane, fleabane, milkweed,and boneset.
I will be using plugs, which are small plants, to populate the wildflower meadow. The meadow will require regular maintenance to remove the mugwort. Thus far, there have been several mugwort weeding days that involved local volunteers. I will be working on the meadow from the spring to the late fall of 2016.
These native plants are of ecological importance because they support a variety of wildlife. Meadows offer a diverse and usually attractive habitat for many insects and other invertebrates including caterpillars, butterflies, bees, spiders, millipedes, birds and other small animals. The native plant species that inhabit the meadow serve as food and nesting sites for a diversity of wildlife.
Other benefits of meadows include an increase in beneficial insects that can eliminate pests and help to remove standing water which will reduce mosquito breeding.
Currently there is a movement to establish mini-meadows in people’s home gardens. This is one way homeowners can encourage and nurture pollinating insects and help the local wildlife. Home meadows are good for the environment and also bring much beauty to the property.
I am trying to create awareness of my project and recruit volunteers to help remove the weeds and plant the new plants. The planting will be done in May.
When the wildflower meadow is created it will be used for educational purposes and as a demonstration garden for local school groups, scouts, and other community members.
If you would like to volunteer to help on the meadow restoration project please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Mugwort from Missouri Botanical Garden
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.