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Mystery Oak Trees

Mystery Oak Trees There are three mature oaks from the Red Oak group growing on the parkway of Gertrude Street a couple of blocks from my house.  Tall and full-grown, they retained some of their leaves throughout the winter.  I could tell they weren’t Red Oak (Quercus rubra) or Black Oak (Q. velutina) and assumed […]

This Weekend in My Back Yard

This Weekend in my Back Yard   Golden-leaved Wild Grape (Vitis riparia) crawls along my neighbor’s clothes line contrasting beautifully with the scarlet leaves of my Hazelnut.  One never plants Wild Grape–it just shows up, planted by birds,   American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) is the most spectacular autumn shrub we have in the Midwest. Its […]

Spring Begins

MARCH Spring Begins March is the drabbest month of the year in the Midwest.  The snow has melted revealing vast expanses of brown grass and a winter’s accumulation of trash that’s been hidden beneath its white blanket.  March is completely unpredictable—warm and sunny in the 50’s or even 70’s one day, cold and raw the […]

Laurie Otto, Prairie Queen

Lorrie Otto, Prairie Queen At our last Northern Kane County Wild Ones meeting last month, Bret Rappaport presented a program on Lorrie Otto. Who is Lorrie Otto? She’s the inspiration for Wild Ones, widely acknowledged as the heart and soul of the natural  landscaping movement. by Carol Chew, Mandy Ploch, and Bret Rappapport After graduating […]

Robins are Back! Spring is here!

A robin! Robins are back!  Spring is here! Well, not exactly, even if we are going to have spring-like weather this coming week. We assume that all robins fly south in the fall, but some linger here all winter, particularly the males.  (They want to be the first ones here in the spring to claim […]

PAWPAW, SPIKENARD, SPICEBUSH, and WITCH HAZEL, OH MY

PAWPAW, SPIKENARD, SPICEBUSH, and WITCH HAZEL October Golden-leaved Plant Community  A group of unusual plants  grows along the south end of the  savanna in Potawatomi Park that is located between the  parkbuilding and the Fox River.  Shaded by a gigantic Linden or Basswood (Tilia americana) tree, the low ground never completely dries out. Paw Paw […]

Jens Jensen Council Ring–A Memorial

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon. A surprisingly large group of Elgin High School’s Class of 1959 gathered under a Shagbark Hickory tree at the edge of a savanna on the grounds of the high school.  They were there to dedicate a memorial to their class sponsor and former Biology teacher, Gus Stuart. The memorial […]

Why Plant Native Plants?

WHY PLANT NATIVE PLANTS?   Native Midwestern plants are sustainable.  They are well-suited to the climate and soil conditions of the area where they are found naturally–they are grown successfully with little effort.  They are adapted to extreme temperatures, blustery winds, and intense sunlight.   They are drought-resistant–once established, after 2-3 years, they need no […]

More Winter Interest:Persistant Leaves

  More Winter Interest Persistent Leaves Some deciduous trees (mostly oaks) hang on to their brown crackly leaves all winter, not dropping them until spring. 12/27/2010  Lord’s Park Lagoon.   White Oak (Quercus alba) hangs unto its leaves through the winter when it is young, but as it ages, the leaves fall off in autumn. […]

The First Thanksgiving

  Come, ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of Harvest-home; All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.  Henry Alfred  1810-187  The First Thanksgiving What is now called the First Thanksgiving was actually a Harvest Festival, popular in England, and, indeed, all over the world, including the New World. The Pilgrims and […]