A Walk up Zarka Valley

In contrast to the fragmented systems we found around Fez, the Zarka Valley has a functional network of acequia. Little need for a mayor domo to direct the use of water, there is plenty to take when needed, as the river fed by the Zarka (blue) spring flows constantly. The fields are growing corn, interspersed with livestock fodder like clovers or alfalfa to replenish the soil for a few years between growing out the corn again. Along the edges of the fields, blooming oleander and various medicinal herbs flourish. The ditch system is well maintained and the government restores the concrete ditches, which look like they were recently refurbished.

Zarka valley above Tetouan Morocco
Green fields flourish even in mid-summer in the Zarka Valley above Tetouan.
Recently refurbished canal systems are visible from above.
Terraced fields prevent runoff to hold water longer in the cultivated fields.
In the foreground, clover and alfalfa replenish the nitrogen in while providing feed.
Above, corn thrives as it is cycled through the field once every few years.
Horses plowing a field in the Zarka valley, Morocco
In the shoulder season, fields are plowed between harvests.
Egrets followed close behind as the farmer spreads his seed.
A few more grains are sown to share with our non-human neighbors.
New Acequia headgate
Newly refurbished canals and headgates are provided by the government.
Several types of mint grow amongst the oleander.
old Zarka headgate
Downstream, medicinal plants grow happily in the deteriorated headgate. Even though it is worn, the headgate works well in the way that water seepage keeps the soil moist.
Flood irrigation - Acequia in Morocco
As the water flows through various headgates, it is directed through lines etched into the landscape to provide paths through which water may drain into crop fields to completely saturate the soil.

Printmaking at Green Olive Arts

Summer 2022 – Tetouan, Morocco

As we explored the living history of Acequias in the Rif, we collected plants that thrived along the networks of waterways and outcroppings in the area. Our studio time was focused on making impressions of these plants on the press provided by Green Olive Arts. Instead of making individual plates, we placed a piece of plexiglass atop the press bed, on which we inked directly before arranging plant material then paper.

Plants are laid out on freshly inked plexiglass
Desiccation brings out the details of a plant’s structure
So that the dried plants don’t disintegrate when run through the press, spray them with water to moisten them.
The yellow coloration in the background of this print was created through an anthotype process using turmeric. Anthotypes are an alternative photographic process that exposes the chlorophyll in plants to sunlight to make ephemeral light impressions.
Printmaking with plants
When the plant material is run through the press, it picks up ink from the plate. Dual colors may be achieved by simply changing the background color and flipping the inked plants over then running them through a second time. The inks provided by Green Olive are water based, so are transferred to the moistened paper.
Thatcher Gray arranges a plant composition in the Green Olive studio. It is important to make sure the plant material is not too rigid so as not to damage the press.

Pierce Pond 2022 Restoration

Published in the Weekly Packet’s ‘Another View’ on July 14th, 2022

Driving along the head of the Bagaduce River during the alewife migration, one can easily spot dozens of Bald Eagles feasting on this keystone species as they make their way up to reproduce in the freshwater ponds that dot the watershed. According to Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, ‘alewives tie the ocean, rivers and lakes together and are recognized as an important ecological ingredient for restoring healthy fisheries and watersheds” Spearheaded by fishery activist, Bailey Bowden, the successful restoration of the alewife fish ladder into Pierce Pond has revived local alewife populations which in turn has increased available food for wildlife while bolstering our local fisheries by providing desirable bait fish for lobstermen.

Keystone species are organisms that help hold an ecosystem together, and without them our wildlife communities would look quite different. In contrast, invasive species disrupt functioning ecosystems, harming the local environment. Invasive species are often introduced to a site with fill dirt that is brought in during construction. Unfortunately, the highly invasive ‘Bishop’s weed’ seems to have exploded from some of the fill that was used in restructuring the road behind the public boat launch into Pierce’s Pond, and it has started to spill into the pocket-sized meadow along the fish ladder.

Last summer, members of the Halcyon Grange joined the Blue Hill Garden Club to start the long and arduous process of suppressing this invasive species. Because the site sits along the stream, chemicals are not allowed, and it will take time and diligence to oust this aggressive species. If even a tiny bit of the root material is left behind, it will take hold and return with gusto. Over the several years since the completion of the ladder, local community members have done an extraordinary job in stepping up to account for the increased numbers of fish making their way up to the pond. Now locals and visitors alike are invited to participate in tending the shoreline in order to eradicate the weed before it takes over the entire site.

On Saturday, August 13th the Open Air Arts Initiative will host a free workshop where participants will creative a collaborative ‘habitat sculpture’ atop the patch of weed while learning how to quell invasive species without the use of chemicals. A collaboration between the Cynthia Winings Gallery, the Blue Hill Heritage Trust and the SEED Barn, OAAI inspires people to creatively connect to the natural world around us. Deep connections with the landscape are fostered through tending it. During the process of creating a sculpture using materials found on site opens the space to express ourselves in ways that considers our relationship with the natural world around us.

Because the process of ousting this invasive species will take so much time, the organizations are approaching the shoreline restoration with the idea of long-term collaborative tending of this common access space. Instead of simply accomplishing this task with a singular event, folks from here and ‘away’ are invited to participate as they pass through and enjoy the site. ‘Many hands make light work’ and instructions on how to expel the Bishop’s weed as well as how to tend to the long term needs along the lakeshore area are posted online as well as at the site itself. Look for information on the kiosk located in the outdoor classroom and at www.virtualvoices.org

When you see the emergence of the Bishop’s weed, please feel free to help eradicate it by either digging it out and placing all of the plant material in a garbage bag before disposing of it at the dump, or suppressing it with several layers of cardboard which may be camouflaged with sticks an leaves found on site.

The invasive Bishop’s weed, or ‘Snow on the Mountain’ in it’s natural form
If you see this plant, help eradicate it!

What IS Bishop’s weed?

Aegopodium podagraria or Bishop Weed is the wild form of the nursery plant, ‘Snow on the Mountain’ and is very, very aggressive. Snow on the Mountain has variegated leaves and was promoted by the nursery industry as a shady ground cover. After going to seed, it reverts to its non-descript native form of solid green leaves. It is native to south central Europe and was used as a food plant by the Romans, and as a medicinal herb by monks, who carried it into northern Europe. It can still be found growing in patches around monastic ruins throughout the continent and descriptions of its use are found in monastic writings such as Physica by Hildegard von Bingen.

Urban Acequia

Tétouan, Morocco

A visit to an urban farm network just above the Oued Martil that flows through Tétouan showed there is still a functioning Acequia right in town! A system of ditches directs runoff through fields, but since the water comes out if the city it is not the cleanest. The farmers use the ditch water to grow fodder for the livestock..mostly alfalfa….and !! Livestock there is. We met chickens, sheep, goats and COWS. There was a small dairy tucked in the bushes in a rambling structure of corregated iron with Victorian cast iron details in the window. Other than the alfalfa, the animals ate a lot of dried bread. This re-cycling of what would otherwise be food waste was significant. Over tea one afternoon, our Moroccan companions were shocked to hear how westerners throw out 40% of our food. Such extravagance and waste! Certainly a foreign perspective for a community that produces what it consumes and directs any leftovers to other species to enjoy. Wafa laughed and said, ‘When we find a corner of bread on the corner, we will even lift up the crumbs to a ledge so that the birds may enjoy it!’

We were taken to this urban farm network by Anass the beekeeper. We crouched through a tunnel in the huge grasses that run rampant when unchecked to follow the ditch. The water ran across the top of a field stacked with veg, but the farmer opted to pipe in clean springwater to grow plants consumed by people. Herbs and medicines grew amidst vegetable plots, which skipped around to grow haphazardly in other places. A bit wild… integrating volunteers and native plants that were allowed to grow where they chose. Fruit trees dotted the plot, with figs fruiting at the time. Lettuce and parsley were going to seed with seeds being saved in a tarp strung up in the tree. A recently harvested field was just planted with young corn and being prepped for a new sowing of seed in the shoulder season. Purselane thrives as a nutrient dense groundcover that tamps out weeds. The glowing purple flowers of artichokes are foraged by the black and yellow African honeybee, and grow with a huge sage bush. As we left, the farmer started harvesting coriander, bunching them up as he readied them to go to market.

Urban farmer harvesting corriander
Coriander being readied for market.
Urban corn field
In the shoulder season, crops are harvested and a fall crop is sown.
Cow hold
Pieced together with corrugated iron and Victorian iron windows, this structure provides shade for the milk cows in the local dairy
Cows in the Dairy
Urban Dairy
Acequia fed field
Thatcher Gray walks through the Acequia fed fodder fields crow below the stacked vegetable fields along the Martil River. A variety of alfalfa, clover and other herbs supplement the stale bread that is fed to the cows, chickens and goats that are raised as part of the urban farm network.

ART for UKRAINE

Orchestrated by Daniela Garza

Friday, April 15th, 2022 4-7pm
Walker Fine Art – 300 W 11th Avenue, Denver

Women for Women International

Identifying credible partners on the ground and allocating resources to help address the unmet needs of women  residing in war and conflict ridden areas. From their website, “The lives of Ukrainian women have been shattered by the Russian invasion. More than 2 million people have fled the war—most of them women and children. Through our Conflict Response Fund, we are identifying credible partners on the ground and allocating resources to help address the unmet needs of women facing this crisis.”

Voices of Children

Providing psychological services to children traumatized by war, specifically in Ukraine. From their website: “None of a child may be left alone with a war trauma. This is our mission. With your help, we give psychological and psychosocial support to children who suffered as a result of war operations. It helps them to win the consequences of the war and develop themselves. We also help families to cope with everyday difficulties, treatment and rehabilitation of children, giving an individual support. To give children a voice we create a video content, and we are also engaged in promoting children rights in order to change the children’s rights protection system in the country. Our objective is that every child who has suffered from the war in Ukraine must get psychological help in time. Our values: respect to child’s dignity and rights; understanding of the needs of every child to be heard; faith in getting the best results only with the help of partnership and mutual aid. We are working in various villages and towns along the frontline in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

Slow Food International
Raising funds to support Ukraine in two ways:

1) Saving Ukrainian biodiversity. To support those farmers who, even in wartime, have not left their farms and continue to work under the most difficult conditions, risking their lives to preserve the animal breeds and plant varieties they grow in order to nourish their local community and feed the future. We are making a plea to the global Slow Food community to support them financially with a donation.

2) Keeping knowledge alive. To create matching opportunities between Ukrainian Slow Food Community members and their counterparts throughout Europe, thus allowing for refugee farmers and food producers to be hosted by fellow producers to facilitate a meaningful opportunity for learning and exchange. Beekeepers to be matched with beekeepers, cheesemakers with cheesemakers, and so on. We believe this exchange will not only allow for Ukrainian food producers to keep practicing their trades in exile but will be a fruitful exchange of skills: skills which will be vital for the post-war reconstruction of the country.

Pierce’s Pond Outdoor Classroom

Drawing influence from ancient practices of tending the landscape, we teach students about relationships with plants. Historically, Penobscot of this area did not cultivate crops in a way that disturbed the soil, instead they work within the landscape, like forest gardening….suppressing plants that are not as useful and encouraging those that served a purpose.

We have the intention of maintaining an open woodland around the outdoor classroom at Pierce’s Pond fish ladder. There are a lot of Gray Poplar that wants to fill the area with thickets. While Gray Poplar is a native pioneer species that holds wildlife value, it does serve the intentions expressed for maintaining open woodland, so we work to suppress it, while letting the beech and oak trees grow.

When the fish ladder was constructed, a deep rubber liner was sunk into the ground to cut off seepage and direct water through the ladder. This changed the moisture content in the soil, and we are curiously following the transformation from wet to dry forest. Three years after the first wave of hugelCULTURE, Gray Poplar is showing itself again. We will be coppicing the young sprouts again and using the leaves to help oust the invasive Bishop’s weed that is taking over the meadow…making use of material found on site

We start by working with Brooksville students to coppice the poplar, covering the cuts with several layers of cardboard and topping it with mulch and leaves to hide the cardboard.
Maintaining an open woodland allows for spatial connections with the pond. Hidden under these leaves are suppressed Gray Poplar, which we do not want to fill in. In the transformation from Red Maple forest that was kept wet from the seepage from the pond, to a dry hardwood forest as the liner cut off the seepage, we are following the adaptation of the trees and diversifying the forbs that grow here.
Students from the Bay School create seed head mandalas around the site, this one particularly expressive in its form.
See how slowly the seedlings grow!
The Blue Hill Garden Club worked with students from the Blue Hill Consolidated School to add plugs that were grown out over the summer in school nurseries.
New plugs are marked with rings of shells both as a nod to the connection of the river to the sea and as a way to enrich the soil with minerals as the shells break down.

Pierce’s Pond Woodland Path

The woodland path is a short trail that runs adjacent to the meadow and follows the fish ladder downstream. Find a sign at the end that follows the history of the site. We are working with plant communities that come from upland dry forests of the area.

Juliet Nalweyiso sports slippers as she sows seeds around the woodland path during COVID
The ‘before’ shot, just after the trail was structured.
Many native flower seeds need cold stratification to germinate. Directly sowing seeds onto open ground in winter is the best way to initiate a restoration because the plants become established in this particular soil from the get-go.
Seed mandalas were created by local students, this one tucked under the boulder…
Seeds sown as mandalas flourish in the following years
During the fall, native wildflower ‘plugs’ are added to the site. These plugs were cultivated from seeds started the prior winter at local schools and allowed to grow out through the summer to develop root systems before being added to the field. Cooler autumn temperatures ease the transition.
Rings of shells mark the new plantings, using natural materials connected to the sea as a nod to the opening of the fish passage. The minerals in the shells eventually break down to enrich the soil.
Plants start filling in the path area, but note the right uphill area, where too much mulch impedes the establishment of new plants
Dutch landscape architect, Mixy Montague visits the site and plants a few shade loving plants. Along the upper side of the trail, a LOT of mulch was laid down. After 3 years we can see where plants have taken hold and where the mulch is impeding growth. As we address the invasive Bishop’s weed in the meadow, we will pull from the areas of thick mulch to top the hugelcultures while opening ground to receive native seed.
The woodland path overlooking the small meadow to the fish ladder as it fills in with native large leaf wood aster and shade loving Virginia Wild Rye. As the plants fill in, we will continue to diversify the selection of natives.

Pierce’s Pond Lakeshore Restoration

In order to direct the outflow from Pierce’s Pond, a dam was constructed with a deep rubber lining going down the middle to prevent underground seepage and keep a robust flow through the fish ladder. The ground was super-compacted, making the growth rate extra slow to establish plants there. Sedges that exploded in the hard scrabble of the ladder are present, just miniature…as are many of the varieties sown from seed.

The final shots are views of the dam as it slowly fills in after 3 years of sowing seed and adding plugs.

A school of baby alewives….the ladder is working!
Standing with ankles immersed, we can enjoy the light nibbles of fish eating dead skin off our toes.
The dam just after construction. We tried laying screen down in one area to see how much of a difference it made in seed germination. It did not make much of a difference! We felt like it was not worth bringing the foreign material to the site to protect the seeds, they emerged regardless.
Many Maine native plants need winter cold to germinate. The best time to sow seeds onto open, disturbed ground is in the late fall and winter. Grasses do not need a period of cold to germinate and may be sown at any time.
The creative act of making seed head mandalas with materials found on site. Students from the Bay School visited the site to create ephemeral artworks that assisted in re-seeding the site.
Plugs were sown at various area schools during the winter & grown out over the summer. When autumn approached, the young plants had developed enough roots to be transplanted in the field. The cooler temperatures eased the transition.
Plugs are planted quite literally in the stone since we cannot dig into the compacted dirt on the dam in order to preserve the integrity of the structure. We take away stone until the compacted soil is exposed, place the plug on top then surround the plug with stones so the soil does not dry out. There is seepage up to the lining, so the roots stay moist on the pond side of the liner, despite dry conditions.
Sticks brought by the beaver help shelter plugs by providing dappled shade during the heat of the day
Growing native plants from seed is a slow process. The compacted soil makes it even slower! This is the view three years after the initiation of the project, where the dam is slowly filling in with green.
Other, less compacted areas provide grounds for pioneers like this Rudbekia to flourish, despite the gravelly nature of the soil. While the plant communities are based on the book, the Natural Landscapes of Maine, we are also working with native plants that are already present at the site.

Invasive Bishops Weed in the Meadow

HELP OUST THE BISHOP WEED!!!

If you see the ‘Bishops Weed’ which has exploded out of the rocks supporting the parking lot, please help us eradicate it.

Big patches are smothered with 3-4 layers of cardboard, topped with organic material (Gray Poplar) cleared out of the outdoor classroom area…or extra mulch/leaf-litter brought from home.

Smaller patches are dug out & taken to the dump in plastic bags. If even a small bit of the rhizome is left in the ground, a new plant grows in with ease. It is important to stay on top of the outbursts before they really take hold.

Bishop weed is one of the most difficult Invasive species to eradicate. As the site is right along the river shore, NO CHEMICALS ALLOWED!! Invasive species disrupt the ecologic rhythms of an in-tact ecology. Migrating fish need protein! Amongst other functions, native plants support insects to feed the Alewives coming up the ladder

We are taking a long term and sustained approach to contain and smother it. We invite community members to help tend the space, in order to maintain natural systems that supports shared resources that migrate here from the sea.

Construction fill often brings invasive species to a site, and there was an explosion of the invasive Bishop’s Weed in the pocket of open meadow situated between the woodland path and the fish ladder. Because we cannot use chemicals so near the river shore, we invite folks to help tamp out the weed using layers of cardboard and mulch (dry leaves, small sticks and other organic material) The roots are pervasive, so if digging out the edges of the patch, make sure to bag and dispose of the entire plant material.

Follow along the approach we are taking and feel free to jump in and participate as you are passing through to enjoy the site!

When digging out Bishop weed, make sure not to leave any rhizomes behind, or it will grow back with a vengeance. Here, Peter Leonard is digging out a smaller patch and throwing it onto the larger outburst that can be seen spreading out behind Peter. If you are digging out Bishop weed, please remove ALL of the plant material from the site by taking it to the dump.
Small Bishop weed leaves spring forth 2 weeks after burning it to the ground. We layered cardboard atop the weed to start smothering it. It is very important not to disturb the roots in this process, so all the organic material will be left to decompose.

Once the cardboard is laid, we started piling organic material that we had cleared out of the outdoor classroom area. Please feel free to continue adding layers of cardboard and hiding it with organic material that will eventually break down into soil, tamping out the weed. It will take time, and many layers of cardboard/mulch to fully rid the site of the weed.
In 2021, we initiated a long term, sustained approach to tamping out Bishop Weed in the pocket meadow along the fish ladder with an educational event and BBQ

What IS Bishop Weed??

Aegopodium podagraria or Bishop Weed is the wild form of ‘Snow on the Mountain’ and is very, very aggressive. It seems to have exploded from the fill of the road to the boat ramp above.

Brought to this land as the nursery plant, ‘snow on the mountain’, the plant reverts to it’s native form of solid green leaves once it has ‘skipped the fence’. In fact, it is a medicinal plant in Europe. From Wikipedia: “The tender leaves have been used in antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages as a spring leaf vegetable, much as spinach was used. It is commonly used for soup. Young leaves are preferred as a pot herb. It is best picked from when it appears (as early as February in the UK) to just before it flowers (May to June). If it is picked after this point, it takes on a pungent taste and has a laxative effect. However, it can be stopped from flowering by pinching out the flowers, ensuring the plant remains edible if used more sparingly as a pot herb.

“It also had a history as a medicinal herb to treat gout and arthritis, applied in hot wraps externally upon boiling both leaves and roots together. Ingested, the leaves have a diuretic effect and act as a mild sedative. Its use as a medicinal herb has largely declined during the modern era.

“The plant is said to have been introduced into Great Britain by the Romans as a food plant and into Northern Europe as a medicinal herb by monks. It is still found growing in patches surrounding many monastic ruins in Europe, and descriptions of its use are found among monastic writings, such as in Physica by Hildegard von Bingen

Mowing Meadows for Wildlife

An afternoon at the Tapley Farm in Brooksville explores how mowing practices can support wildlife in Maine’s meadows.

The old plow greets visitors to the Tapley Farm in Brooksville, Maine

The Tapley family was influential on Maine’s early maritime industry. Their deep water wharf overlooks Castine, maintaining ties to the sea, and the land continues to be tended by the descendants of these early settlers. Currently maintained by the Gregor family, the site is used for creative engagements facilitated by the Tent Project, and serves as grounds for community engagement through cultivating food that is given away to the local community via the Magic Food Bus. A large part of their intention with tending the meadow landscape is to support local wildlife. The Open Air Arts Initiative hosted this event to explore ways we may challenge disruptive and misunderstood mowing practices to educate on how to maintain meadows to support wildlife.

A view of Castine across the rolling meadows at the Tapley Farm & the Bagaduce

The Nursery Garden:
Increasing plant diversity

We began the afternoon gathered in Carol Gregor’s garden. Keeping gardens near to our own habitations encourages us to consider ‘home’ as spaces that include outdoor spaces as we provide nourishment and shelter for pollinators. In consideration of the history of the site, we spoke of plants that arrived by sea in the early colonial medicine chests and how some of these plants have become a naturalized part of our landscape. After acknowledging this land as summer grounds traditionally used by the Penobscot, we spoke of connecting with our own heritage to develop a regard for the relationship to plants considered sacred by our ancestors. We invited participants to observe both native and naturalized plants without judgement, in order to recognize relationships within the landscape, both native populations and those who have arrived ‘from away’. One difference in our contemporary relationship with these 2 groupings of plants is that we may feel free to harvest the naturalized plants without worrying about disturbing the rhythm of the local landscape. As conservationists look more to indigenous populations for guidance, it is important to recognize that while we may learn from their approaches of tending this landscape, it is not really our place to mis-aproppriate their cultures. Instead, we are advised to rediscover our own sacred ancestral relationships with the land and the ecologic communities that inhabit it. We all contain these histories but some of us are more severed from our past than others. Learning about the uses of plants brought here from Europe by early settlers opens pathways of connections to our ancestral relationships with plants considered important enough to be included in their medicine chests and larders.

Having said that, we also recognize that native plants have co-evolved with insect, bird and mammal populations so that local wildlife is in sync with the rhythms expressed by plants that were here before the arrival of Europeans. When we think about increasing the diversity of meadows we tend, we focus on cultivating native plants to augment plant diversity found in larger meadow spaces. Because of the density of plants found in Maine, it is nearly impossible for seeds to take hold if simply scattered into a mature field. Native plants need open ground to become established and often take two to three years to fully mature. Some need extra tending so they may flourish. By adding small patches of native plants to the gardens we tend close to home, we can keep an eye on them and allow them the space to thrive. Direct sowing avoids the use of plastic pots associated with nurseries and allows the plants to adjust the soil into which they will be placed from the getgo. As they establish themselves and start to outgrow the small spaces of a cottage garden, then it is time to transplant the larger plants to the field, where they may take hold with mature root systems and start populating meadows with a more diverse range of flora. In Carol’s garden, we see native roses, milkweeds and New England asters growing alongside oregano, lavender and cosmos, all of them happily feeding the scourge of buzzing pollinators.

Entering the cottage garden, Hollyhocks grow with lavender, lilies and early season asters.
A conversation on diversification was held in Carol’s cottage garden.
Swamp milkweed growing with Cosmos

Meadow Walk
Observation & Relationships

On the walk through the meadow to the site of Carol’s labyrinth, we take a slow approach to observe what is already growing in the meadow. We talk about plant communities and paying attention to what grows well together. Scale is an important consideration as we think about how to cultivate a community of native plants within our own tended spaces. Roses grow well with blueberries, and are layered in with mosses and rushes. flowers, berries, and bunching stems providing nourishment for pollinators, birds and shelter for both. It is vital to let all of these plants grow to maturity through the extended season to promote habitat for local wildlife. If we sever the landscape in the middle of summer, we take away the flowers feeding the pollinators, which in turn takes away food for insect loving birds. It severs the capacity for wildflowers to mature into seeds, taking food away from migratory birds and forage for winter resident bird and mammal populations. Meadow nesting birds are increasingly some of the most endangered species in the area because their homes are destroyed and they cannot reproduce.

Why do people mow mid summer?
Because it is easier for the mowing COMPANY to get through the field. Waiting until November or April increases the risk of the soil being too sodden, or the grasses laying down like a mat. However, to maintain open space we only have to mow every two to three years. So if a season presents too difficult a task to mow, it’s fine to wait another 6 months to a year or more to mow the area. Often meadow stewards will alternate mowed areas so that the plants have a couple of years to mature, regenerate and the next generation grow out before being cut.

Observation allows for consideration on how to shape layers into the perimeters of the meadow. If we do NOT mow, the meadow will return to forest. In thinking of transitions into the surrounding forests, we may encourage a diverse range of woody plants like native viburnums and dogwoods to fill in along the sides to soften edges of meadows. These berry producing plants provide essential food for migrating birds and act as windbreaks and pollen sources for early season insect forage. These bushes will spread easily into a meadow, so it is important to maintain consistent mowing along the perimeter of the woody shrub layer to prevent this from happening and to maintain open space.

Paths mown through a meadow allow access to enjoy the open spaces. These paths may be shifted from year to year to change the rhythm of the ways we walk through the meadow.
Native lowbush blueberries dominate the wet meadow ecosytem
Blueberries are enjoyed by kids and birds alike
There is a saying that if you have ‘perfect’ looking flowers in your garden, then it is not serving a role in the surrounding ecosystem
Edges are maintained by keeping the periphery of shrubby plants consistently mowed. Where we may shift some paths to change access paths, some paths should be consistently mowed to keep the edges defined and prevent the woody plants from growing into the meadow. There is a sort of sculpting of the living landscape that occurs with our decisions about which woody plants we encourage to grow in, and those we edit.
Trees will consistently try to grow in open ground in Maine. We mow to prevent the meadow from growing back into forest! We may find volunteers like this birch that we want to preserve as lone trees in the field, providing shade and shelter for a range of wildlife.
Spirea and rushes thrive in the drainage. Ditches are hard to mow, so are an ideal place for these kinds of shrubs to grow. The mature shrubs then define the path of the water.
Swamp candles are indicative of the wet meadow ecosystem
Walkers end up on the other side of the meadow to learn about intentions set by the Gregors to install a public access labyrinth along the far road in their meadow.

Labyrinth:
Intention & the Creative Process