Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wild Ones Fox Valley yard tours begin

The first first yard tour of the season for Wild Ones Fox Valley chapter was a late May visit to two contrasting properties rich with native plants that attract native butterflies, birds, and insects. At the first yard, spring-flowering native ephemerals miraculously emerged after the owners eradicated buckthorn, garlic mustard, Virginia creeper, grape vine, black locust,  and other invasives from their woodland lot.   Buckthorn removal involved using extraction, a chain saw, painting with Roundup immediately after cutting back stems, and a weed wrench. Native plants that appeared after removal of buckthorn and other invasives include violets, wild geranium, false Solomon's seal and milkweed.  Others native plants have been purchased from wild Ones & Prairie Nursery and grown from seed share by neighbors.

Shooting Star
Golden Alexanders
Prairie Smoke
Wild Columbine towering above carpet of violets
Shagbark Hickory surrounded by spring ephemerals
Pagoda Dogwood

A short distance up the road, neighbors had chosen to clear native vegetation from around the existing trees to plant lawn, a very different approach , most likely requiring substantial maintenance in the shady conditions, with few of the seasonal blooms to enjoy through the changing seasons.

Further up the road another Wild ones member have lupines blooming on an open, sunny two acres in front of the home.  The owners began converting this former hayfield to native plants in 1997.

In back of their home they had established their first prairie planting with native seed with the help of Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery.  Most of these plants will bloom in late summer into the fall, giving them blooms to enjoy throughout the growing season.   They have paths mowed through the prairie allowing visitors to wander sitting to rest in a circle of Aldo Leopold benches surrounding a fire pit  

While the owners have devoted the majority of their acreage to native plantings, they have a traditional lawn and foundation plantings immediately surrounding their home as well as a vegetable garden adjacent to their shed and a number of small, more traditional gardens with adjacent seating areas allowing them to enjoy some of their favorite non-natives as well.

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