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Posts Tagged ‘Prairie plants’

Following a rather busy June and early July, I decided to make the most of some much appreciated down time to just be me.

This, of course, translates easily into me wandering off to explore nature.

So it was on an overcast Saturday afternoon that the I opted for a walk at the Dean Nature Sanctuary in Oak Brook.

The sanctuary is a wildlife habitat – hidden in plain view. It was through the generous endowment of one of the early founding residents of Oak Brook, Dorothy Dean. With the assistance of the Conservation Foundation, Dorothy Dean generously donated this expanse of land to the Oak Brook Park District.

The story of this sanctuary is an interesting history lesson as well as a unique example of land preservation and stewardship. It also provides insight into the personality and foresight of Dorothy Dean, who used the advance of the Illinois Tollway system to her – and now our – advantage and resulted in the large pond at the site which is a refuge to waterfowl and wildlife. The story is rendered with more perfection than I can do here on my little blog. I encourage you to click on the link below to learn more.

Under the threat of rain, I parked the car, and scurried to one of the paths to make a quick loop around the pond and to rejoice in midst of a riot of prairie bloom! Cone flowers and bergamot, Culver’s root and brown-eyed Susan were bending in the breeze – or stretching toward sunlight, while a

 pair of mourning doves shared a branch high atop of tree.

As I walked, I noticed plant stems bending ever-so-slowly to the will of pollinators; bees and wasps and butterflies spreading the secrets of summer. From stem-to-stem they worked their way among the blooms of the sanctuary, while a heron stalked the edge of the pond and red-winged blackbirds taunted each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I often walk the paths of the Dean Nature Sanctuary, it seemed particularly special for me on Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed getting some exercise, clearing my mind, and observing the living things surrounding me. A dog was walking its master while a gaggle of pre-teen girls passed by, giggling at something on one of their phones. Something splashed loudly in the pond and a hawk circled overhead, looking for dinner, I supposed. I needed to head home to do the same so headed to my car feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Later, at home, checking out the website for the Dean Nature Sanctuary, a visual caught my eye. Oh! Bee Parks Honey. The Oak Brook Park District was selling honey harvested from the Dean Nature Sanctuary! I prefer to use local honey whenever I can, as you may recall, and dug a little deeper into the site. I sent an email to the Park District, and promptly received a very nice response thanking me for my inquiry and informing me that I could buy the honey at the park district office. All honey money (my term) will be used to support their universal playground project. I wish them well in this endeavor. Parks that are accessible to everyone benefit all of us.

Guess where I went the next afternoon?


https://www.obparks.org/history

 

 

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IMG_0953Slogging about the mire and mud which has captured our lawn, I caught a bit of sunshine illuminating the lemon grass.

The lemon grass was one of several plants we brought home one fine day almost two years ago. They were from the Herb Garden which needed to be excavated for pipes and such when the conservatory was refurbished.

Last summer, the lemon grass struggled a bit to claim the soil, wilting and tilting, but, hanging on. This year, it has a good grasp and is established, waving among the other grasses and, in this photo, next to an indigo (baptista), which is trying to bloom in spite of the wind and rain. The indigo was one of few purchases for this area, our wildlife habitat/grassy knoll/prairie garden. Most of the plants beyond the arbor were divisions from friends, Herb Garden transplants, from my garden club’s member plant sale, or gifts.

This was two years ago. A mound of what has become known as the Thor Hill. Our friend Thor gave us day lilies which were planted on the hill.  I had just added some lemon balm here, escapees from the front island. grass-areamayThis is the same area, right after the first big planting from the Herb Garden and some grasses from our neighbor, dscn2682 My friend Jan has given us many divisions of grasses that are seen here, but also populate other areas of the yard. Friend Phyllis has also shared grasses and several clematis, which are currently twisting their way up both sides of the arbor.

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Donna gifted us with a plant called Bear’s Breaches two summers ago. It is the white flowering plant and it stands seven feet tall with the most heavenly scented blooms, just beyond the thalictrum, which is approaching eight feet in height.

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This garden has been a continuing delight. Native ageratum were divisions from Jane and have multiplied ten-fold, as has the oat grass in the center, descendants of one plant that was a Father’s Day for Tom. Several varieties of Joe Pye Weed are just starting to show blooms.

Forgive me for rambling on. It is just that I love this garden so. It has been so rewarding, in part for how fast it has grown, and more so because it is alive with the orphans and rambunctious plants of gardening friends. We have attempted to put as many natives in the garden and have among the native Joe Pye Weed a Big Blue Stem, spiderwort and further back a compass plant, which is just starting to show buds.

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