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Wildflower Area History

Smacholdt's picture

Taking a historically themed tour of Harritan house inspired me to focus on my site with a historical lens. I had success with the Bryn Mawr website (, in finding some useful information on the wildflower restoration area.

It turns out that reason for the wildflowers is simply that Ed Harman, director of grounds and facilities at Bryn Mawr, had a hard time maintaining that area due to the spring that left the area moist. Then, three years ago, one of the first trees planted on the campus (a 250 years old sycamore) died and Harman decided that he needed to improve the area. Harman was inspired to “bring back life to a historic planting.” The grounds committee planted a mix of 30 native wildflowers in the area (this was apparently inspired by the success of the Atlantic City Expressway’s median strip flower-planting program.) Facilities also planted a new sapling inside the stump of the sycamore to symbolize rebirth.

The grounds committee has been experimenting with more wildflowers on campus including behind Haffner, Ward, and around Rhoads Pond. (The same mix of wildflower seed has been planted everywhere.) This allows grounds not to have to mow on dangerous slopes, but to save money on fertilizer. Additionally, wildflowers attract pollinating insects and provide mini ecosystems for wildlife on campus.

I just have one question. How come facilities haven’t been experiencing the terrible trouble with weeds that Michael Pollen describes in his NYT editorial? 



et502's picture


to respond to your question about the weeds - Pollan said that the reason we have trouble with weeds is because they thrive in manmade environments, amongst the cultivated plants. "They don't grow in forests or prairies - in 'the wild.' Weeds thrive in gardens, meadows, lawns, vacant lots.... They do better than garden plants for the simple reason that they are better adapted to life in a garden."

I think that wildflowers are more resilient than garden plants... maybe they would even be considered weeds in a cultivated garden. Anyways, it makes sense to me that the weeds aren't a problem because they are competing with (and thus, surpressed by) plants that are also well-adapted the space. 

Srucara's picture

That's really fascinating,

That's really fascinating, that's such a great thing to do as well - to create little ecosystems and not having to mow on dangerous slopes. The sapling is also such a beautiful idea.