Meadows

Meadows – long grass, wildflowers and insect homes      

Drummond Park February 2020

Three Armidale reserves include areas of meadow that have been left unmown this year so that their wildflowers and native grasses can grow, set seed and be enjoyed. Activities to do in these meadows or other areas of diverse grasses are suggested below.

These meadows are

  • on the western side of Drummond Park near Markham St, 
  • on the eastern and southern sides of the Arboretum, and
  • a section of creeklands between Centennial Close and Dumaresq Creek. 

Thanks to excellent rains after drought, many delicate wildflowers grew, followed by the grasses which became unusually tall this year. The grasses have interesting arrangements of seed heads. There are no logs or rocks and few sticks to worry about in the grass since they used to be mown and may continue to be slashed about once a year.

There may be other patches of unmown grass and other little plants near your home that have interesting features if you pause to look closely. These could be in an undeveloped road reserve or a rarely mown section of a park. Look for patches that have a diversity of different ground plants, perhaps due to rocks, a log or other obstacles – help your children find one to enjoy. Avoid the low spots that tend to grow paspalum or other very long grass. Try some of the activities listed below.

Several different native grasses and flowers in the meadow on the eastern side of The Arboretum near Butler St, March 2020. Photo by Kate Boyd

Activities in meadows or other areas of diverse unmown groundcover 

Common Grass Blue drinking from a Bluebell
  • Walk along the edges of the meadow or long grass looking in at what has grown
  • Leave a message to other walkers by tying a few grass stems in a knot
  • Count the different types or colours of flowers you see – children are good at seeing funny little plants with tiny flowers as well as daisies, peas and bluebells.
  • Or count the different shaped leaves – even in winter there may be many.
  • Walk into the meadow hunting for what can’t be seen from the edge
  • Children can do drawing or take photos to use or talk about at home
  • Collect a few specimens of the most common grasses to make a decorative arrangement at home or to weave into a …. 
  • Find a patch of flowers and sit or lie down to watch for any tiny animals that feed on nectar, leaves or seeds. There may be some minibeasts living near the ground under the tall forest of grass. Imagine living in the meadow. 
  • Chase the butterflies: there are lots of little Grass Blues and some bigger butterflies in autumn. Perhaps make a small net to catch them with or to sweep through the grass for other minibeasts: look at what is caught then turn it inside out so they can get back to living their lives.
  • Take a clear plastic container with a lid, a bigger piece of card and tweezers so you can trap insects to look at. Release them unharmed where they were.
  • You may get seeds caught in your clothing – when you get home look at the seeds with a magnifying glass: how and why did they cling on?
  • If you take a magnifying glass out into the sun, plan it’s use with the user and subject side-on to the sun to avoid focusing the light as this could burn a person, animal, or flammable material. Pocket the magnifier after use.
  • To learn more about some of the plants Native Plants of Southern New England (PDF 2MB) is a good starting point.
Down low: smell native mint, look for lives
Two lichens; grooves left by a chewing insect in a fence post

All of these activities can be tried when you go for a Wander in our woodlands.

This unmown section in the eastern part of Armidale’s Creeklands includes a lot of native grasses and some wildflowers. Access is from the cycleway or through the walkway off Centennial Close.
Area of long grasses with wildflowers in foreground. Background includes a willow tree, a walker and houses

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