July Meeting Recap – Made for the Shade

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Our July 11 chapter meeting program Made for the Shade was co-presented by Charlotte Adelman and Monica Buckley. Charlotte is the author of, The Midwestern Native Garden and the companion book, Midwest Native Shrubs and Trees. Monica is the owner of Red Stem Native Landscapes, a Chicago based company that creates landscapes using our regions native plant species.

Charlotte began the program talking about the harmonious relationships between woodland native plants and pollinators. Woody species host more moths and butterflies than herbaceous plants. Many of these woody natives are shade loving. 

 Some examples she provided of this pollinator-to-woodland native plant connection were:

  • The ruby-throated humming bird migrating north following the blooming of native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) .
  • The spring azure butterfly and Eastern Tiger swallowtail are provided nectar by woodland Wild Geranium(Geranium maculatum) which blooms early and long. These butterflies then lay their eggs on the neighboring viburnums, dogwoods, and a variety of fruit trees.
  • Fritillary butterfly caterpillars can feed only on violets including several shade loving species such as the Downy Yellow and Birdfoot violets.

Our native species can work well in even the most difficult, hard-to-plant shady areas. Monica offered examples of some of these urban dead spots.

She first discussed this once sad looking residential front yard with water always pooling on the main walkway.  It was transformed when the Red Stem Native Landscapes team redirected the water by installing a swale and
adding an array of moisture-loving native shade plants under the Serviceberry.

 

 

Monica then went on to talk of this parkway, originally ugly and barren where foot traffic had erased the lawn. This landscape solution involved several steps.   

 

  • First the area under the tree was temporarily fenced off.
  • A 3 inch deep mulch made up of leaf compost was laid down for a few weeks (this works better than ordinary mulch as leaf mulch  encourages the growth of necessary bacterial and fungal components).
  • Finally gorgeous but tough shade-loving native plants were added that handled the stresses of the location just fine, while being pleasing to passersby. 

 

 

 

Charlotte & Monica’s suggestions on creating woodland gardens include: 

Put sedges to work in your landscape. Their roots hold water and break through heavy soils. They provide support for other taller plants. Since one-third die every year, they replenish the soil. Although they are cool season plants, you can use them in varying places, wet or dry, sun or shade, spreading or contained. Choose with care from the 114 native species. Some favorites mentioned were Plantain sedge (Carex plantaginea), Star sedge (Carex radii) which grow to 8 inches high. Long- beaked sedge (Carex springle) that grows up to 18 inches tall, and Gray’s sedge (Carex grayi) .  

 

When adding or replacing a tree, choose from our native oak, hickory, sugar maple or white pine. They advise against planting Norway maples which take up a lot of the water around them. If you cannot remove them, remediate the understory with leaf compost as mentioned above and plant sedges or woodland plants that can co-exist with them. Perhaps ferns and Virginia bluebells in combination. Under pines, you might succeed with, jack-in-the-pulpit, native hydrangea, Bellwort and Star sedge.

 

 On the subject of ground covers, both speakers strongly suggest that we avoid all cultivars which are defined as “plant species‘clones altered for our esthetic”. These include vinca minor, English ivy and winter creeper. Their colored or variegated leaves, minimal fragrance and lack of fruit provide little nutrition for insects & birds. Some can strangle yourtree. In their place experiment with a slate of shade loving native plants such as Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Big Leaf Aster (Aster macrophyllus), Wild Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum)   orPennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica). These add color plus wildlife food and residences fromearly spring to late fall.

 

 

 

 

June Meeting Recap – The Buzz on Native Bees

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Our native bees are in trouble. Habitat loss, heavy pesticide use, urbanization and the effects of climate change are just some of the factors contributing to our native bee population declines. Today one quarter of all bee species are in danger of disappearing. Without pollination, 2 of 3 agricultural crops worldwide will not produce food. That means 1 of every 3 bites on your plate will go missing. 

Our presenter for the evening  Jean Foley, bee enthusiast and horticulture student at the College of Lake County, began the program by sharing with us her experiences in the summer of 2015 when she helped research native bees in Somme Prairie Preserve, near Northbrook, Illinois. Somme Prairie is a high quality open grassland prairie community, having been actively restored since the 1970’s.

 

 

Somme Prairie Preserve

That summer from June 19 through Aug 16 Jean photographed and collected bees and the flowers they were pollinating. These were saved in vials of alcohol which were labeled with bee name/flower name (if known), date, and location and returned for scientific identification to Laura Rericha, a wildlife biologist at the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Laura is the co-author of, Flora of the Chicago Region: A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis.

 

This research yielded specimens from 6 families of native bees  

Megachilidae on Sawtooth Sunflower 

  •  Melittidae –  3 native species in our region. These are oil collecting bees. They do not collect nectar but prefer to feed plant oils mixed with pollen to their young.
  • Colletidae –  26 native species in our region. This family includes plasterer and yellow-faced bees. They smooth the walls of their nest cells with secretions which dry into a cellophane-like lining.
  • Megachilidae – 51 native species in our region. This family includes the Leafcutter, Mason, and Resin Bees. Known as the builder bees, they cut, collect and carry material back to make nests.
  • Halictidae – 98 native species in our region. These are known as Sweat Bees and Little Green Bees. Some species are  easily recognizable due to their beautiful, iridescent green or golden colors. Although they feed on pollen and nectar, many of these bee species are also attracted to the salt in human perspiration.
  • Andrenidae – 78 native species in our region. These are the mining bees. Many are specialists preferring only 1 plant species. One example is Andrene arigenea. This bee lives a short life above ground coordinated with the flowering of the Spring Beauty (Clayton virginica), then goes underground for its inactive life span.
  • Apidae – 80 native species in our region. This family includes the Carpenter, Digger, Squash, Cuckoo, and Bumble Bees (the non native honey bee is also in this family).

 

Bumble bee on New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Since bumble bees are a favorite of Jean’s, she listed a number of ‘Bombus’ facts that may be new to you:

Bumble Bees (genus Bombus) live social lives for less than 1 year. Only one new queen overwinters.

“Social“ may mean 2 insects or 100 in a bee colony.

Because of their large body size their season is quite long and they can fly in poor or adverse weather conditions.

They can detect nectar levels with their antennae without landing on a flower. This saves energy and time.

They “buzz pollinate” meaning they vibrate to make pollen fall on them.

 

It bears repeating that the numbers of these essential, amazing creatures are declining at an alarming rate. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee is our most compelling example. Listed as ‘rare’ in 1997, its numbers are down 96% and its status was changed to ‘endangered ’on March 21, 2017 by the US Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.  It is extirpated in many areas.

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affines) queen

 

 

Researchers are doing their part. We can help too!

  • Bees need healthy air and plants. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. Avoid neonicotinoids, a class of garden chemicals which are linked to pollinator decline. There are ideas for safer, less toxic alternatives. Read this fact sheet ManagingPestsWithoutNeonics
  • Bees need flowers for foraging. Beautify your yard with native plants for pollinators Native Plant list Pollinators . Did you know that bees prefer white, yellow, or blue flowers with large petals and a mild scent? Wild Bergamot, blazing star, Lead Plant, foxglove, spiderwort, and goldenrods are just a few examples of the”Bee Friendly” flowers that are blooming throughout the growing season. 
  • Bees need nests for spring broods and also nests for overwintering queens. Leave some dead wood and plant matter in your garden for them to use.

 

Learn more: Consult the list of books and websites provided here. Native Bee Resources

Do more: Become a citizen scientist. Report at BeeSpotter.org

 Say more: Talk to neighbors, friends, and children about all that bees do for us.

Fear less: Many of us are anxious about being stung but most bees are focused on their work. Don’t get in their way and don’t mess with their nests. Other insects, such as wasps, hornets and yellow jackets may be more likely to sting people. Learn how to identify and give them more space.

Thank you all for joining us for the latest “buzz” on bees.                                                     ~ Y.K.

May Meeting Recap – Water Doesn’t Lie: A Native Plant Solution to Drainage Problems

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It was another well-attended meeting for our May 2017 chapter program. Amy Dickinson and Jim Futransky presented their informative and interesting story on how they managed stormwater runoff and flooding problems using rain gardens and bioswales.  

 

Here is a couple who love their 1953 home on a 1+ acre near the Des Plaines River but hated their wet basement and flooded garage. Over 30 years, they fixed, re-fixed, overlooked, or tolerated these problems and strove to understand them until finally, in 2009 they were determined to find the solution. 

 Their home is located on land lower than their neighbors, on a private road without drainage ditches, in a township with no agency to guide them and in a state whose law says, “Water? Send it all down stream!” Well, they were very much “downstream”! They felt they were on their own until they found Marcus delafleur, a landscape architect who recommended bioswales and rain gardens to solve the problem. 

 A bio-swale is generally long and narrow, like a ditch, and designed to help collect water but allow it to flow out slowly, limiting erosion. A rain garden is more pond-like, intended to capture water and allow it to flow out or be absorbed over a period of days.  Both are planted with sedges, grasses and native flowers. The root systems of these grow deep and can break up the clay layer under much of our soil, allowing for better absorption and retention of  water.

For budget purposes the work was divided into 3 phases:  

 

Phase 1, 2010– Three bioswales were constructed along their eastern property boundary and the private road, directing water north to the highway ditch.  A rain garden divided from the swales by a berm was also dug out on the eastern side of the property to catch water coming off the garage and house roof.  These were planted with a cover crop of rye and oats so Marcus could fine-tune any flow issues.

 In 2011, they took a year off from major projects. The time was used to check on the water flow and fix any elevation issues.

 In June of 2012, the rain garden and swales were prepped with herbicide, topsoil was added and 9000 plugs of grasses and sedges were planted. ( Bioswale & Rain Garden Plant & Seed List ) All this was topped off with pea gravel as mulch. To protect the young plants in case of too much rainfall, a temporary sump was installed where a portable pump could be set to pump out water.
 

Ironically, that summer we suffered from drought conditions and they needed to water the rain garden to save their impressive investment.  It took 5 hours a day!

 

Phase 2, 2013– A second rain garden was built on the west side to take rooftop water. Spring produced maximum rain, caused flooding and some leaks
(or breaches) to show up in the system.  A ‘turf channel’ was added along their highest boundary (south side) to send water to the west side of their lot and to the 2nd rain garden and finally to another wetland just before Rockland Road ditch.Three I-beams now act as super gutter carrying run-off  from house to turf channel and 2nd rain garden. Since one of the house sump pumps exits into the west rain garden and provides a wetland environment, a decision is made to increase the size and depth of the rain garden and add wetland plants. 

In 2014, they paused any new planting and watched for any design issues. At the end of the season they excavated the west rain garden.

 

Phase 3, 2015– Goal: To prevent the garage and a separate circle drive from flooding. Solution: Dig and create a concrete channel in front of garage & connect it (by a new turf channel) to wetlands.

 Is the work  done?  Of course not. There is the regular mowing of  lawn, swales & turf channels.…plus weeding, mulching and adding of new plants.

 

 In 2017, they plan to build up/repair the Phase 1 berm.

An annual spring burn of native plant areas (by professionals) to control growth.

When will the project be complete? They have adopted a” Wait and see” attitude. Each season differs. Each year brings surprises.

Have they met their goal to improve their space without negatively impacting others? Definitely.

Are the owners happy with their decisions? Yes! It was expensive… but they are dry and surrounded by a native paradise of flowers & frog song and that is very, very good! 

 

Our thanks to Jim and Amy for taking us on a walk in their world without getting our feet wet. 

~Y.K.

April Meeting Recap – Traditional Landscaping Using Native Plants

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It was a full house, with 65 people attending April Nielsen’s excellent presentation on creating a traditional looking landscape using native plants. She began the program talking about native plant ecology defining ‘natives’ as plants that have evolved and thrived here before European settlers arrived, going on to describe how our native species are perfectly suited for our climate, our soil types, and for our wildlife.  

 

April also pointed out that native plants are better than invasive ornamentals or native cultivars  for multiple reasons:

  • They require less water and soon become self-sufficient.

  • They need less fertilizer which help keep our run-off water clean of chemicals.

  • They out-compete weeds and save us maintenance time.

  •  Their deep roots provide erosion control and build better soil.

  • The plants themselves become a community for a variety of insects.

 

She explained that to begin ‘going native’ on your land, the operative word may be forethought. April advised us that we should take the time to observe a site through all the seasons, noting the sun-exposed areas and the shady ones. We also need to know the soil hydrology. Next consider the bloom times, plant height, color combinations and various textures.    

 

  Before you begin digging, here are some things to consider:

  • Placing shrubs and trees with adequate space from house or structures

  •  Leaving generous space-to-grow around each plant

  •  Planning for the narrowing of sidewalks or pathways after a few years of plant growth

Woody natives that are chosen correctly and placed with forethought and plenty of room from your house and other plantings will reward you in the future.  (See Native Herbaceous Plants guide below, Pgs. 6-10)   

 

 

Lastly, she shared with us an inexpensive and environmentally friendly weed barrier alternative to landscape fabric: flatten cardboard boxes, cut holes for placement of plants and then cover with 3″- 4″ of organic mulch or leaf litter.  

 

 

April left us with beautiful images of many of her favorite native species and a very useful 10 page plant guide to help us get started on a bit of our own traditional looking landscape using native plants. 

 

Click below for April’s plant guide. 

Native Herbaceous Plants pg. 1-2 

Native Herbaceous Plants pg. 3-4

Native Herbaceous Plants pg. 5-6

Native Herbaceous Plants pg. 7-8

Native Herbaceous Plants pg. 9-10

             

Illinois Native Plant Sales

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Looking to add native plants to your landscape this year? Here is a list of  Illinois native plant sales by county plus a few in nearby Indiana and Wisconsin.  Within county, they are listed by date of the sale.  A list of nurseries that sell native plants follows.

Lake County

Citizens for Conservation
First weekend in May, 2017 will be May 6 and 7, held on the grounds of Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. Lake County. Over 200 varieties of forbs, ferns, grasses, trees and shrubs. Pre-orders on line until April 12. Also, fall tree and shrub sale by pre-order only in August for delivery in September each year.

Lake County Forest Preserves Native Plant Sale
Saturday, May 13th, 2017 9AM-12PM
16490 Buckley Rd, Libertyville, IL 60048

Lake Forest Open Lands Go Native! Plant Sale
Saturday, May 13th, 2017 8AM-1PM
350 North Waukegan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045

Conserve Lake County
Please check the website for details.  On-site shopping  May 19 to June 3.

Lake County Master Gardeners Annual Plant Sale
Saturday, May 20, 9AM-2PM
Lake County Extension Office,
100 S. Highway 45, Grayslake, IL
Sale includes a selection of native plants.

McHenry County

Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee
First Sunday in May – 2017 will be May 7, at McHenry County College
Noon to 3 PM. 150 Species of forbs, grasses and ferns. Sale has enjoyed an excellent reputation for 30 years. Excellent Selection.  Native trees and shrubs from Ohana Farms, plus Organic Heirloom Vegetables and Herbs from W & M Landcorp Organic Nursery available.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County Spring Plant Sale
This is a pre-order plant sale with pick-up on May 19th-20th, 2017
4622 Dean St., Woodstock, IL 60098

Winnebago County

Wild Ones: Rock River Valley Chapter – Rockford area
Constance McCarthy, President
Chapter Contact: (815) 627-0344 or Email Rock River Valley President
Please check the website for information and dates of sales.

Cook County

Skokie Park District Earth Day Plant Sale
Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
4650 Brummel St, Skokie, IL 60076

Go Green Wilmette
Order online by May 5th, 2017, in-person sale and pickup May 13th, 2017

2017 Native Plant Sale Pick-up Location #1
3555 Lake Avenue, Wilmette, IL

2017 Native Plant Sale Pick-up Location #2
999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe, IL

Irons Oaks Native Plant Sale
Saturday, May 13th, 2017 9AM-12PM
20000 Western Avenue, Olympia Fields, IL 60461

Schaumburg Community Garden Club Native Plant Sale
Sunday, May 21st, 2017 10am-2pm
1111 E. Schaumburg Rd. Schaumburg, IL 60193

Wild Ones West Cook Chapter Native Plant Sale
Order by May 24th, 2017, pick up June 3rd
405 S Euclid Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302

DuPage County

Kane-Dupage Soil and Water Conservation District Native Plant Sale
Order due Monday, April 24th, 2017, Pick up May 18th
2315 Dean St, St. Charles, IL 60175

Wheaton Park District Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 29th from 8:30AM-12PM
821 W. Liberty Dr, Wheaton, IL

DuPage Forest Preserve District Native Plant Sale
May 12th 11-7PM, May 13th 9-2
717 31st St, Oak Brook, IL 60523

Conservation Foundation Native Plant Sale
Saturday, May 13th, 2017 from 9AM-1PM
McDonald Farm, 10S404 Knoch Knolls Road, Naperville, IL 60565

Kane County

Northern Kane County Wild Ones Native Plant Sale
Saturday, May 6th, 2017
28 Brookside Dr, Elgin, IL 60123

Kendall County

Plano Middle School Native Plant Sale
Order by May 1st, 2017, pick up May 17th or June 15th
802 S. Hale St., Plano, IL 60545

Will County

Bringing Nature Home Native Plant Sale
Saturday, May 20th, 2017 9AM-3PM
17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433

Kankakee County

Illinois Native Plant Society Kankakee Torrent Chapter Native Plant Sale
Sunday, May 21st, 2017
Small Memorial Park during Rhubarb Festival
S 8th Ave, Kankakee, Illinois 60901

Indiana

Friends of Indiana Dunes Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 8th, 2017 8AM-1PM
1215 N. State Road 49, Porter, IN 46304

Gibson Woods Wild Ones 16th Annual Native Plant Sale
Saturday, May 6th, 2017
6201 Parrish Ave, Hammond, IN 46323

Wisconsin

Wild Ones Menomonee River Area Native Plant Sale
June 1st-30th, 2017
W180 N6275 Marcy Road, Menomonee Falls, WI 53052

Area Nurseries Selling Native Plants

*Items with asterisk are not exclusively natives, but are shown in listings of resources selling native plants. There may be additional full-service nurseries that carry some natives.

West Suburban Locations

*The Growing Place (Two Locations) NGN

Natural Garden Native brand
25 W 471 Plank Road, Naperville, IL 60563
Naperville: (630) 355-4000

2000 Montgomery Road, Aurora, IL 60504
Aurora: (630) 820-8088

NOTE: Natural Garden Natives TM (NGN) is a true native brand that represents natives sourced from within 90 miles of St. Charles. They can be purchased directly from the warehouse of Midwest Groundcovers (below). They can also be found at numerous nurseries as listed here. Look for NGN

*Planters Palette
28 West 571 Roosevelt Road
Winfield, IL 60190
630-293-1040

Natural Communities
No brick and mortar location. Order online and pick up on Route 25 in Batavia or at various plant sales they supply. See the website FAQs for more information.
Tel: (331) 248-1016

*Midwest Groundcovers LLC Natural Garden Natives
6N800 Illinois Route 25
P.O. Box 748 , St. Charles, IL 60174 (near Bartlett)
Tel: 847/742-1790 Fax: 847/742-2655

*Wasco Nursery
41W781 Route 64, St. Charles, IL 60175
Tel: (630) 584-4424 (West of Randall Road)

Byron Nursery (Wholesale only)
POBox 125
St. Charles, IL 60174
630-513-5105

Linda’s Loves (charitable)
4509 Wilson Ave., Downers Grove.
Tel: (630) 971-2411 by appointment only.
Email: Linda at melin80@sbcglobal.net

Northwest Suburban Locations

Glacier Oaks Nursery
8216 White Oaks Road
Harvard, IL, 60033
815-482-7404

Blazing Star Nursery
2107 Edgewood Drive
Woodstock, IL 60098
815-338-4716

Ohana Farms
Tree and Shrub Nursery in Marengo, IL
They have a selection of natives included in their stock.

Natives Haven Native Wildflower Nursery
13809 Durkee Rd, Harvard, IL 60033
(815) 344-6623
http://www.nativeshaven.com

Red Buffalo Nursery
5515 Hill Rd., Richmond, IL, McHenry County
Tel: 815-678-4848 
Email:jack@redbuffalonursery.com

South

Possibility Place Nursery
7548 W. Monee-Manhattan Road, Monee, IL 60449
Tel: 708/534-3988 Fax: 708/534-6272 By appointment only.
Web: http://www.possibilityplace.com

Further Afield: Other native plant nurseries can be found through the Plant Native website, the Illinois listing is here.

Mail Order Native Plant Nurseries

Prairie Moon Nursery – highly-respected nursery with all native plants, pure species. Selling seeds, potted trays and bare root stock. About 700 Species. Online catalog, (great Plant Finder feature) or physical catalog. http://www.prairiemoon.com

Prairie Nursery – another highly-respected nursery with a long history or selling native plants. Pure species. Seeds and plants. Plant finder feature for the online catalog, or request a catalog.

Thank You to Chicago Living Corridors https://chicagolivingcorridors.org for providing this extensive native plant resource list.