Mar 28 2013
Meadow Development Spring 2013
In 2008, Wake Forest University’s Sustainability Committee suggested that a portion of the former Golf Links at Reynolda Gardens, approximately sixteen acres in size, be converted from an open, mowed field to a managed meadow. The goals were to decrease the emissions generated by the use of mowing equipment, decrease storm water run-off, and provide an enriched habitat for wildlife. The proposed meadow would complement the variety of habitats already offered in the woods, wetlands, streams, and gardens of the 129-acre Reynolda Gardens preserve. In addition, it would provide an enhanced educational component to the Gardens for students of all ages.
In April of 2011, the Reynolda Gardens staff invited members of the Wake Forest University biology faculty, representatives from government agencies and land conservancies, citizen scientists, and the public to a roundtable discussion on the best way to develop the meadow. As a result of this meeting and additional discussions with Laura Fogo, a regional biologist with the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service, it was determined that the first step in the process was to eradicate the existing fescue and Bermuda grasses. To assist with the development of the Meadow, the Gardens applied for and received a grant from the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in May of 2012. The goals of the program, which is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, are to promote and implement habitat restoration that benefits federal trust species; provide conservation leadership and promote partnerships; and encourage public understanding and participation. Considering that ninety percent of the land in North Carolina is privately owned, working with landowners to protect habitats is crucial to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The grant funds site preparation, the purchase of seeds and plants, and educational signage, as well as providing technical assistance.
We completed the initial seeding of the meadow during the first week of March, using species of native grasses and wildflowers that reliably germinate from direct sowing. The Gardens staff will start another forty-five species of wildflowers, types that are a little more difficult to propagate or are expensive, in the greenhouses this summer. The seedlings will be transplanted into the meadow in the fall. Plantings will continue indefinitely to achieve a high-biodiversity plant community and functioning ecosystem. This is an exciting project on many levels. First, with the emphasis on native, Piedmont plants, the meadow will provide nutritious food, high quality nesting material, and shelter for resident and migratory birds, as well as other animals. Reynolda Gardens is on the North Carolina Birding Trail and is known for a high diversity of birds; but, hopefully, the development of the meadow will bring grassland birds back to our landscape. Additionally, the wildflowers will provide a nectar source and attract a variety of butterflies and pollinators. The project will also be an integral part of the educational and research mission of Reynolda Gardens and Wake Forest University. It will serve as an outdoor laboratory for the Reynolda Gardens Programs for Schools and as an educational resource for the general public. There are currently eight faculty members in the Biology Department at the University incorporating the meadow into core and upper-level courses, undergraduate research mentoring, and research projects. The Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability at Wake Forest has also actively partnered in this project, and the Center and the Environmental Studies Program will continue to use the meadow as a case study in sustainability in practice and education.
Reynolda Gardens would also like to thank our other partners participating in this project:
Audubon Society of Forsyth County, Carolina Butterfly Society, Triad Chapter Forest Garden Club, Garden Club Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Little Greens Garden Club, and Nature’s Select Premium Turf Services, Inc.