The Parklands

What’s Happening in the Meadows?

Meadows are an important part of the aesthetic and ecological function of The Parklands landscape. Surprisingly, there are so many variables that change what happens within the meadow. We are constantly adapting our learning to figure out how to maintain these spaces.

Naturally, meadows do not want to exist in Kentucky. Decades ago Bison roaming through the state trampled trees down to the point that only large “bluegrass” grasslands would survive. However, today meadows need management through other measures. 

Late summer into autumn this year we noticed an over-abundance of tree samplings appearing in our meadows. If we allowed natural succession to continue most of our meadows would convert in just a few short years into forests. This started to happen in the Grande Allee meadows near the Humana Grand Allee. We do plant trees and encourage forests to thrive in many areas at The Parklands as part of our design intent and ecological health. But figuring out how to maintain our meadows is important. We are embarking on significant mowing regime this winter that allows us to hinder and knock back tree growth, cleaning up meadows to look like meadows. This will provide proper habitat for birds and beneficial insects. In some small meadow areas adjacent to buildings we do more frequent mowing to maintain shorter heights for safety viewing. 

We work to balance the impact on the health of wildlife as we do our work, but keep great functional and beautiful true meadows. 


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About the Author

Picture of Tom Smarr

Tom Smarr

Tom is a seasoned professional with two decades of experience in horticulture, botanic gardens, conservation, and organic landscaping. He holds a master’s degree in urban horticulture from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He has worked for established institutions such as the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, WA and New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, MA. Tom’s most notable work has been leading the management of horticulture at newly urban designed parks starting with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway opened in 2008 in downtown Boston, MA built on top of the infamous “Big Dig”. Most recently, Tom served as Horticulture Director at the High Line, a public park in New York City along unused, elevated train rails. He recently joined 21st Century Parks in Louisville, KY as Horticulture Director involved in the newly-built model urban park at The Parklands of Floyds Fork. He is committed to the preservation of our cultural landscapes through sensible design, horticulture practices and public education.