Lots of Wildflowers

Grounded is working in partnership with The African Healing Garden and the Larimer Consensus Group to conduct a two-year study of a vacant lot in Larimer, exploring ways to use this space (as well as others in the future) to improve the ecological health and wildlife habitat of such spaces.

The project intends to beautify the community while exploring wildflower meadow and shrub/tree border plantings on urban vacant lots. Grounded has secured grant funding to plant and maintain the lots for at least 2 seasons. The project will help to establish new best practices for mid-term and long-term treatment of vacant land in the urban setting, with the potential to influence policy and maintenance practices at a systems level.

The proposed plan for the site includes (3) meadow test plots 30’x60’insize, separated by grass and clover pathways. The plots will test for variables including seed mixes, and maintenance intensity. Additional small trees and shrubs are planned for the front of the site to increase habitat, biodiversity, seasonal interest, and shade along the road.

Site preparation activities completed in May 2021 after several delays in obtaining site access, and a necessary pivot to a new location. These included the rehabilitation of several vacant parcels along Meadow Street in Larimer, in coordination with a local contractor, nearby residents, and the local community organizing group. Site rehabilitation included aggressive non-native species management (Japanese knotweed and Canada thistle), removal of anthropogenic debris leftover from improperly performed demolitions, site leveling, importation of topsoil, and installation of irrigation apparatus.

In order to establish a highly biodiverse, ecologically valuable meadow planting on an area that had been managed on an irregular basis as a short, low-quality lawn, we seeded using a baseline butterfly & hummingbird mix supplied by Ernst Conservation Seeds. However, based on our biodiversity goals for the space, we made the decision to supplement this pre-selected mix with additional species to broaden the number of invertebrate species served on site (thus offering additional value to higher trophic levels, such as birds and mammals). In particular, applied plant species that would provide provisioning services for invertebrate species listed as ‘Species of Greatest Conservation Need’ in the Pennsylvania 2015-2025 Wildlife Action Plan, including (but not limited to): Rusty-patched Bumblebee, Yellow-banded Bumblebee, Dusted Skipper, Northern Metalmark, Frosted Elfin, Silvery Checkerspot, Monarch, Persius Duskywing, Baltimore Checkerspot, Goldenrod Brindle, Vernonia Borer Moth, Graceful Clearwing, and Phyllira Tiger Moth. While not all of these species have yet been observed in the space during our species census events in coordination with local environmental education nonprofit Pennsylvania Master Naturalist, it is Grounded’s hope that as the meadow matures more of these species will take refuge in this oasis of biodiversity amidst short shorn lawns and monoculture stands of aggressive non-native species.