This fall, our Teaching Garden area will be expanding with a Prairie. If you’ve ever walked through our Teaching Garden, you’ve probably already seen the area we’ll be using, a grassy space along the tree line between the library and the Garlands. Before we created our Teaching Garden in 2021, the site was home to a wooded area overgrown with buckthorn and weeds slowly choking out healthy trees and understory plants. Our landscape architects planted native plant plugs in the area nearest the trees, and while those thrived in the sunny spaces near the garden, they struggled to survive in the shade of the trees. Over the past year or so, weeds have started to compete with the native plants, so we’re taking a more active role in the area to preserve this space for our vital pollinators. We’re partnering with the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists to clean the area up and maintain it going forward. To begin, we’ll remove all the weeds from the spaces. Then we’ll be collecting seed from the sunny area and resowing it to promote new growth. Finally, our landscapers will mow the shadiest portion of the area, and we’ll seed it with local seed gathered by the Citizens for Conservation. A light layer of mulch will hold the seed in place until it has a chance to germinate in spring.

Going forward, the Teaching Prairie will host regular workdays and classes taught by Master Naturalists, designed to teach you to identify native plant species, provide habitat for vulnerable pollinators, and create and care for your own prairie spaces. Watch our newsletter for more information!