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Brian’s Meadow beckons for quiet contemplation

Court Noxon surveys Brian's Meadow from the completed ramp designed and built to provide a unique vantage point for viewing this natural site. Donald McClure photo

Are you looking for a quiet place where you can sit for a while in contemplation, free from the sounds and sights of the modern world.   There are lots of places like this in the County — but a new one opening up may entice you to come and collect your thoughts in peace and tranquility.  And it’s not too far from home.

Brian’s Meadow is located about midway between the Black River Cheese factory and the Mariner’s  Museum at 1652  County Road 13, and it is open daily from sunrise to sunset.  Leave your car on the grass near the entrance gate and follow the lane to the raised viewing area — an easy 10 minute stroll.

What you will find is a tended meadow which is being allowed to self-reclaim and, if plans are followed through, could become an important spot for wildflowers.  Joan Tobin has established it as a  living memorial to her husband who shared her vision of building and preserving the meadow for all the wild creatures and plants.

Meadows have become a rarity, falling victim to proliferation of many intruders such as the eastern red cedar, prickly ash and now the dog strangling vine. Intensive labour is required to hold these invaders at bay and to keep meadows flourishing.

About two years ago Joan mentioned that the glacier age had deposited a huge (small truck sized) boulder on the property and she was wishfully thinking of finding someone to cut it into pieces that could be moved to become seats for viewing the birds, butterflies and flowers of the meadow.  As Court Noxon explains  “Joan needed help with the visualizing and I volunteered.”   Naturalist Terry Sprague had already erected a changeable information tablet near the lane so the viewing site was located there.

Granite expert George Pratt is shown working on dividing the huge boulder left behind by glaciers to provide seats for quiet contemplation of Brian's Meadow. Donald McClure photo

Court invited old friend George Pratt, a sculptor of granite from British Columbia, to bring his experienced hands to the site. “We worked in the traditional fashion with drilled holes, wedges and sledge. Two days later we had reduced the giant to about half size. There are a number of seats, a memorial stone and a bird bath.

In order to get a good view over the field while seated the look-out platform needed to be raised. Doug Storring used his timber crane to move and place huge beech retaining timbers from Joan’s old- growth forest, Court explained.   Then he built the approach and platform of crushed rock and dropped the seats into place. The soil around the site has been cultivated and will be seeded down with native plants to act as a source of flower seeds for the birds to spread in the meadow.

Greeting visitors to Brian's Meadow this week was this gorgeous male Eastern Pondhawk part of a collection of diverse natural inhabitants which will increase with care and time. Donald McClure photo

Last night when Judy and I sat on the granite blocks to look out over the scene we were greeted by a blue male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly which landed on a nearby stone and luxuriated in the fading warmth of the afternoon sun.  This is the first member of this species we had seen this summer.

Joan invites the you to visit the meadow and trusts you will respect it as you would any conservation area.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

About the Author: He can tickle your funny bone or tug at your heart strings. County people may know him as a chronicler of everything that happens (or should happen) in the garden, but his interests stretch across the natural world. His unique sense of observation takes in a wide expanse of living and may even point out some truths about our own condition as managers of the world around us. With Loyalist antecedents in his family tree his roots go deep into the Ontario countryside.

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  1. Doris says:

    Thank you Richard for bringing this spot to our attention. Terry Sprague took a group out there one day but I could not go. Now I will make an effort to go and see this wonderful spot in the near future.

  2. Richard Male says:

    Thanks, Joan, for alerting me to Donald McClure’s piece on Brian’s Meadow. Marnie and I look forward to visiting in 2011. Richard

  3. Donald says:

    Great project for the Master Gardeners Kathy. I agree that It would be an excellent idea to establish criteria for content and distribution before planting takes place. Growing wildflowers successfully is not an easy project — but properly conceived and executed it can be magical.

  4. Donald says:

    Thank you Terry. The Brian’s Meadow project should bring a lot of pleasure to
    future visitors and will become an important part of the County’s attractions. Joan and Brian deserve much thanks for their thoughtful and generous concept.

  5. Kathy MacPherson says:

    As Joan developed the idea of Brian’s Meadow, many members of our local Master Gardeners collected seeds from their gardens including coreopsis, echinacea, rudbeckia, poppies and other flowers that were appropriate to grow in a meadow. Joan continues to invite County gardeners to gather appropriate meadow types of seed. Anyone interested in contributing seeds for Brian’s Meadow could phone me at 471-1783. I’ll arrange to pick them up or to meet contributors either at my house on Morrison Point Road or at the meadow. Please be sure seed packages are clearly labeled. We want to know what seed is going into the meadow to avoid introduction of invasive species. Thanks. Kathy MacPherson

  6. Terry says:

    Excellent piece, Donald. Before Brian died, we had several discussions on the importance of creating open meadows, and that conservation wasn’t all about planting trees – it was about creating open spaces as well for bobolinks, tree swallows, bluebirds, meadowlarks and vesper sparrows. Brian never got a chance to finish the project he had started. It has been my pleasure since Brian’s untimely death, to work with Joan in making his final dream come to reality.

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