Wildlands & Woodlands Website

Highstead works to inspire curiosity and build knowledge about plants and wooded landscapes in order to enhance life, preserve nature, and advance sound stewardship practices.


Land Stewardship > Meadow Management

Meadows make up nearly a third of Highstead’s land base and represent an important and dwindling cultural landscape in Redding and across southern New England.  Highstead  maintains and protects the beauty and cultural heritage of the meadows, which provide striking views and habitat diversity on the property and important grassland bird habitat.





The Hilltop Meadows

Large, open fields have declined sharply  in southern New England as a result of increased development, the decline of agriculture, and natural successional processes. Grassland-adapted plants and animals have followed a similar trajectory. Highstead maintains 40 acres of meadow habitat for bobolinks (a species of continental concern) by mowing once annually, in late-summer to ensure that young birds have fledged before the grass is cropped back.  Bobolinks and other birds are monitored annually by local volunteers.

The Barn Meadow

A two-acre meadow at the Highstead Barn was created during construction of an adjacent pond.  Initially planted with a mix of grass and clover to prevent erosion, one-half was subsequently seeded with North American native prairie grasses and forbs for demonstration. Several management regimes were applied, and after nine years, the seeded half yielded twice as many native wildflowers and grasses and was less prone to invasive species colonization than the unseeded area.

Today, the Barn Meadow is maintained as habitat for songbirds, butterflies and other pollinating insects that depend on wildflower meadows for habitat. It is mowed annually, after seed-drop, to prevent transitioning to forest. Management to reduce and prevent further invasion of  mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), a non-native herbaceous perennial, was initiated in 2011.