in Greens Farms, A Meadow Grows

For decades, Westporters have watched meadows disappear. New homes replace open space. Natural grass gives way to well-manicured, well-meaning — yet artificial-looking — lawns.

It’s hard to imagine a new meadow being created anywhere. But it’s happening on Prospect Road.

John and Melissa Ceriale are already Westport heroes for the beauty they’ve brought to Greens Farms. Gardens, trees, bushes and walking paths fill their 8-acre property.

Looking northeast, on the Ceriales’ property.

The couple — noted philanthropists and volunteers — have a vision. Noted landscape designer Cindy Shumate brings it to life.

And they’re in it for the long haul. “In 40 years, the trees we’re planting now will be magnificent,” Cindy says.

Right now, it’s the meadow that’s drawing raves.

Early this spring, Cindy planted 4,600 3-inch perennial plugs on an acre of land, at the far end of #25 Prospect. They’ll grow in slashes, she says, self-sowing in the lawn grass to create a “wild meadow.”

Already, that lawn grass is 18 to 20 inches high. It moves in the wind. “So beautiful and natural,” Cindy says. “It’s what anyone’s lawn would look like if they stopped mowing.”

The Prospect Road meadow.

She likens her role to a painter. Instead of a brush, her medium is plants.

Neighbors notice.

“People out on their COVID walks pass by,” Cindy says. “They’re curious. I wave, and they come over to the stone wall to talk.”

One man stared as he drove by. Then he backed up to chat, and learn more.

“Everyone is amazed that someone would purchase a piece of land and not put a home on it,” Cindy says. “But John and Melissa have a larger perspective. As they add land, they’re putting this parcel together so that it really works with nature.”

A parcel of land with gardens, walking paths, and now a meadow. What is Westport coming to?

(Hat tip: Samuel Wang)

Pyramid grasses on Prospect Road.

11 responses to “in Greens Farms, A Meadow Grows

  1. They’ve done a wonderful job of creating a beautiful property. It was a pleasure seeing this property on the hidden garden tour.

  2. This is fantastic! And I’ll bet all the pollinators are loving this property. I hope they put it in a land trust someday so it won’t be destroyed by developers.

  3. This is fantastic! And I’ll bet all the pollinators are loving this property. I hope they put it in a land trust someday so it won’t be destroyed by developers.

  4. Michael Brennecke

    I’ve been watching this reclamation unfold with great fascination. Looks like they’ve also added bee hives.

  5. A good model for others in Westport, and particularly nice news when Westport Now has reported that nearby, a very significant historic home (at 14 Hillandale) is slated for demolition. It’s important to make sure that the Covid bump in real estate activity does not cause a bonanza by developers cramming as many identical “modern farmhouses” into town as possible (all of which will look dated in 5 years).

    I don’t have the space or budget to have acres of meadows planted, but the Aspetuck Land Trust’s plant sale is a great alternative for those who want to add some low-maintenance, native pollinator-friendly plantings to their yards.

    • Wendy Crowther

      Oh no! This is the A.E. Hotchner place – prolific writer and friend to Paul Newman and Ernest Hemingway. Hotchner died just a few months ago at the age of 102. Another significant loss for Westport – both the man and his home. I am so discouraged by this.

  6. David Squires (Staples '75)

    I’ve had the pleasure….
    A True Delight for the Senses!
    We’re so lucky to have this in The 06880!!
    Big Thanks to All Concerned…

  7. Rhona Lieberson

    This couple are also some of the nicest. After knocking on their door in FL asking about the color of the paint they used on their home, they could not have been more receptive, helpful and once they learned I was also from Westport, an invitation was extended to knock on their door in Westport. Have not done that yet, but certainly would love to walk these Gorgeous Gardens.

  8. I am so excited to hear of this project and pray more family’s forgo their giant manicured lawns and think of putting in wildflower meadows. Our bees and our planet desperately need a break from harmful pesticides and a place to forage for nectar. Our CT state entomologists Kim Stoner and Mark Creighton say Lyme ticks don’t like to breed in these beautiful meadows because they’re too dry! Celebrate Pollinator’s Week and plant a wildflower meadow.

  9. Without trying to generate negatives about some of our Town parks or about dogs, Parks & Rec. has in the past allowed an area of grass on a portion of Winslow Park to grow fairly tall. I think it is a nice touch and does not prevent the enjoyment of that lovely town space.

  10. Melissa Ceriale

    Yesterday’s comments on our meadow are all so lovely. Thank you to all who have been watching and taking notice, especially Sam & Barbara Wang. It’s been quite the adventure over almost 25 years now, starting with one acre and growing to put the original Wakeman Farm back together. We must thank Cindy, of course, but also Paul Sztremer of Wildflower Grounds Services, Judy Gardner, the most amazing perennials expert ever and Michael Sette who is teaching us beekeeping and helping to keep the kitchen garden in production. We always welcome visitors so do stop by when you are in the hood!

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