Winter has finally arrived and the meadow is blanketed with at least two feet of snow. The dead stems of hundreds of oxeye sunflowers are about the only things still visible. Everything is scheduled to be mowed down the first week in March, weather permitting. This will obviously make a mulch of the dead material, but be late enough in the season to avoid killing all the insect/pollinator eggs that have been laid in the hollow stems. So that’s the answer to the perennial question, why don’t we cut this all down in the fall? It is important to wait for the eggs to hatch or we would be defeating one of the important benefits of a meadow.
Last fall, a small section of the meadow was cut down for some reason. Maintenance of the drains, perhaps? A simple mistake? We aren’t sure. Fairfax County is responsible for maintenance of stormwater retention ponds, which is the location of our entire meadow. We count on them to cut it in early spring, and to avoid cutting it the rest of the year. Who knows. At least it was only a small portion.