The Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Wild Ones is bringing nationally-renowned documentary filmmaker and organic landscaper Catherine Zimmerman to Chattanooga on Monday, July 9, to present “Meadowscaping: A Recipe for Healthy Urban and Suburban Landscapes” at Chattanooga State Community College’s Humanities Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Ms. Zimmerman is an award-winning director of photography with over 35 years of experience as a documentary filmmaker with an emphasis in education and environmental issues. She is also an author, certified horticulturist and landscape designer based in Washington, DC who is helping urban and suburban landowners take a more natural approach to landscaping.
Using a practice called “meadowscaping,” Ms. Zimmerman inspires her clients, readers, audiences and viewers to do away with pesticides, reduce lawn and return their land to a beautiful, natural habitat for native plants and wildlife.
While many have not heard the term “meadowscaping,” it describes a landscaping movement that reintroduces the beauty and biodiversity of the meadow. Meadows help support the intricate connections between wildlife and native plant communities that serve as both food source and habitat.
The presentation will cover why meadow and prairie habitats are so beneficial both economically and environmentally, and provide a step-by-step primer on reducing lawn size and organically installing a beautiful meadow or prairie in your own yard. As Ms. Zimmerman points out in her books and films and will describe in this presentation, no space is too small for a nature area.
Ms. Zimmerman’s route to meadowscaping began in her childhood, growing up on an organic vegetable farm in Ohio where she developed a passion for flowers and launched herself as a lifelong gardener. In her professional career as a documentary filmmaker and videographer she often photographed gardens, including her own DC garden, but without attention to what she was doing to her land and environment by her use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. When she bought her home in DC the summer nights were filled with fireflies, but after her pesticide applications she found that she had killed them off -- she had been gardening thinking only about what she wanted – the perfect lawn, her choice plants – not what the soil and site conditions wanted, not what was natural to her piece of land.
In the course of her studies in the USDA certificate program in Horticulture and Landscape Design Ms. Zimmerman was introduced to the environmental costs of her gardening practices and vowed to find alternatives to her toxic turf. She traveled the country, interviewing meadow experts, researching and documenting meadows on film, educating herself about all aspects of meadows. Her book, Urban and Suburban Meadows: Bringing Meadowscaping to Big and Small Spaces (Matrix Media Press, 2010) is the result of her journey. After its publication she was interviewed by Jane Pauley on the NBC Today Show where she recounted her journey to meadows.
Why plant a meadow instead of a lawn? The simple answer to this question is that traditional lawns cost too much from an environmental and monetary standpoint. Annually, tons of fertilizers and pesticides used on lawns are carried by stormwater into our waterways and eventually into the Tennessee River, contributing along with other pollutants to destruction of aquatic life. Monetarily the cost of lawns is also very high. For example, Ms. Zimmerman compared the costs of two sites in the Chesapeake Bay area, each 1/3 acre: one was a lawn treated with chemicals and the other was a meadow, with no chemical treatment. The initial cost of the meadow was higher than the lawn, but the longer-term costs were considerably lower.
Ms. Zimmerman’s published work includes “Urban and Suburban Meadows: Bringing Meadowscaping to Big and Small Spaces” and her recent film “The Meadow Project” available on DVD. Her past documentary work includes global warming documentaries for CNN Presents and New York Times Television; Save Rainforests/Save Lives, Freshfarm Markets, Wildlife Without Borders: Connecting People and Nature in the Americas, and America’s Sustainable Garden: United States Botanic Garden. She is also a certified horticulturist and landscape designer based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and an Honorary National Director of the Wild Ones. Catherine is accredited in organic land care through the Northeast Organic Farmers Association and has designed and taught a course in organic landscaping for the USDA Graduate School Horticulture program.
The cost for the program is free to Wild Ones members and $10 (cash or check only) for the public, $5 for students and seniors. Advanced registration is not required. Wild Ones memberships will be taken at the registration desk or persons interested in joining may go to www.wildones.org/joining.html for more information and to become a member. The Chattanooga State Community College Humanities auditorium is at 4501 Amnicola Highway.
The Wild Ones is a national non-profit organization with over 50 chapters in 12 states that promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. The Tennessee Valley Chapter was recently formed from the Native Plant and Wildflower Group formerly with the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County and is the first chapter in Tennessee and southward. For more information about the Wild Ones, go to www.wildones.org. For more information about the Tennessee Valley Chapter or Ms. Zimmerman’s presentation email email@example.com or call Sally Wencel at 313-3620.