Meadows are even more responsive to the change of seasons than forests. The shoulder high growth of vegetation explodes in a profusion of color each year, with purple ironweed, white yarrow, saffron goldenrods, gold wingstem and lime green ragweed. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds dart among the blossoms looking for nectar.
In addition to sheltering wildlife and pleasing the eye, meadows such as those at Ellington Agricultural Center hold rain close to where it falls and reduce runoff. Once frequently trimmed, one meadow was allowed to return to a natural state through a process called "succession." Left to its own the meadow would eventually become hardwood forest. Keeping it open, however, benefits wildlife that relies on food from in the open field with the cover of trees nearby.
Encouraging native plants on your land not only helps you get in touch with your natural heritage, it introduces dramatic features well adjusted to local soil types and climate. Even if you don't have a large forested tract on your land, you can create a small meadow in your yard. A diverse habitat is not only more interesting than an unbroken expanse of flat lawn, but it provides homes for a variety of wildlife.