Greater DuPage Chapter 2023 Program Recaps

Annual Seed Exchange
Saturday November 4th, 2023 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
The Growing Place, 2000 Montgomery Road, Aurora, Il 60542

We held our 2023 annual seed exchange at The Growing Place in Aurora. The weather was beautiful so we were able to start the event outside with the annual election of our chapter’s board president, secretary and treasurer. We then moved inside to shop for over 100 species of native plant seeds. The event also included an opportunity to purchase Wild Ones yard signs and t-shirts and to participate in a silent auction for some great books and other items. Special thanks goes out to The Growing Place for hosting our event in such a lovely setting!

Click here to view pictures from our event.

Here is a list of the species that we exchanged this year.

To learn more about collecting seeds visit our Seed Harvest page. To learn more about sowing native plant seeds check out the Prairie Moon Nursery Cultural Guide and Seed Starting Basics which includes germination codes and instructions. The Seed Propagation Information page on the Prairie Nursery site is also a good source for starting seeds. Click here to watch a recording of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Winter Sowing program with Jan Gricus & Cynthia Cieckiewicz hosted by the Lisle Library District.

How to Handle Weed Ordinances
Thursday, October 19th, 2023 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Glen Ellyn Police Department, 65 S Park Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL, 60137

The receptivity to natural landscapes is much better than it was 20 years ago, but there are still uninformed neighbors that might complain to City Hall. Our group held a very informative panel discussion aimed at empowering attendees with valuable insights on preventing weed ordinance complaints and navigating through them if they arise. First, two individuals shared their real-life experiences facing citations from their municipalities. Next, Pat Armstrong, a trailblazer in home natural landscapes, offered a firsthand account of navigating through what is often perceived as a negative situation. Her insights provided attendees with practical strategies to achieve positive outcomes when confronted with weed ordinance complaints. We then heard from two local officials from Glen Ellyn who discussed the intention behind ordinances in their community, but also how native plantings are not only acceptable in their community but also encouraged. Glen Ellyn appears to be a very progressive community in supporting native plantings. The program concluded with a comprehensive discussion on proactive measures to reduce the likelihood of receiving complaints. Attendees left armed with practical knowledge on maintaining harmony with neighbors and local authorities while pursuing their passion for natural landscapes.

Here are some helpful resources on how to handle native plant weed ordinances:
Pat Armstrong’s Handout: How to Get Around Weed Ordinances
Wild Ones Presents “Weed Ordinances,” a webinar with Rosanne Plante
Wild Ones National News: What to do when the ‘weed police’ knock on your door
Joe Gardener Podcast 314: Native Gardeners vs. the HOA: An Important Victory for Wildlife
Joe Gardener Podcast 317: Native Gardeners vs. the HOA, Part II

Nature RX: The Positive Effect on Humans When We Experience Nature
Thursday, September 21st, 2023 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Covenant Living at Windsor Park, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL, 60188

Amy Phillips, from The Conservation Foundation, spoke to use about the positive effects our natural surroundings have on humans and we learned about Forest Therapy Walks from a certified therapy guide.

Click here to learn more about the health benefits of nature and The Conservation Foundation’s Nature Rx Initiatives.

Jan Smith Park Work Day
Saturday September 9, 2023 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Wild Ones members joined Jan Smith for another fun, successful work day at Jan Smith Park.

Wild Ones volunteers have really made a difference, and Jan thanks everyone who has participated in one of the work days at Jan Smith Park!

Hinsdale Prairie Walk and Talk
Saturday August 12, 2023 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Kath Thomas, the founder and volunteer steward of Friends of Hinsdale Prairie led a tour of the Hinsdale Prairie which is a 2-acre remnant prairie located between Illinois Route 83 and the Village of Hinsdale, showcased its unique ecological characteristics during this educational event. The prairie extends along Jackson Street, bounded by 8th and 7th Streets, and notably, its beauty can be observed from the suburban sidewalk on the eastern edge.

Dr. Robert F. Betz successfully advocated for this prairie’s preservation and long-term study with the Village of Hinsdale from the mid-1970s; he studied Hinsdale Prairie’s plants and soils, identifying an Illinois endangered species, Lespedeza leptostachya (Prairie Bush Clover), and later welcoming Dr. Marlin Bowles from the Morton Arboretum who in 2000 planted a population of the endangered Asclepias meadii (Mead’s Milkweed). Clues were found recently, but these species have not been sighted for many years.

Dr. Gerould Wilhelm and Dr. Laura Rericha (now Dr. Rericha Anchor) conducted a research visit in the summer of 2015 while researching for their 2017 book, Flora of the Chicago Region. Dr. Wilhelm teaches here often.

The Hinsdale Historical Society has retained a newspaper clipping with chapter founder Pat Armstrong working alongside Betz at HP.

The diversity and richness of species at Hinsdale Prairie speaks strongly for advocacy to preserve and protect all remnant prairies especially in Illinois, the Prairie State.

Click here for pictures from the Hinsdale Prairie Walk and Talk.

Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve Guided Tour
Saturday July 8, 2023 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Kevin Collins, a former volunteer at Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin led us on a captivating tour of this beautiful Illinois Nature Preserve.

Bluff Spring Fen has an interesting history. It was used for gravel and sand mining and other industrial operations. People also illegally dumped abandoned vehicles and landscape debris and the site became inundated with invasive species. In 1980, dedicated volunteers embraced the stewardship of Bluff Spring Fen, diligently removing debris, eradicating invasive species, and actively contributing to the resurgence of native flora and fauna.

The Fen contains over 450 native plant species and is a one-hundred-acre mosaic of gravel hill prairies (Kames), sedge meadows, oak savannas, marshes, mesic prairies, and cold alkaline springs dotting the landscape. The fen is a rare Illinois gem because of its composite of ecosystems: prairie, woodland, ponds, streams, and wetlands all in one location. As part of the Cook County Forest Preserve, this Illinois Nature Preserve is home to a rich diversity of various native plants, amphibians, insects, and birds.

Click here for pictures from the Bluff Spring Fen guided tour.

June Yard Tours
Saturday June 17, 2023 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

The Greater Kane County Chapter joined us for a tour of two member yards in June. In between the tours we enjoyed a picnic at Mather Woods in Plainfield in which Pat Armstrong led the group on a short walk in the woods to see the bridge over Spring Hole Creek, a tributary to the DuPage River.

Yard One
Jill acquired her nearly-an-acre property almost 4 years ago. Its many berms and borders were full of dead & dying trees and many invasives like buckthorn, honeysuckle, and garlic mustard. She has been removing all of that (along with dreaded landscape fabric!) and planting natives to attract the bees, butterflies, and birds. It is still a work in progress and a big learning curve, but the property has come a long way to being a haven for wildlife. She also answered questions about her rain garden, raising Monarchs, raising native solitary bees, composting, vermiculture, and biochar.

Yard Two
Dawn’s yard was originally a corn field. The first year of the gardens began with a base of wood chips and some native plants. The next year, she begged a neighbor for leaves. Then, subsequent years of plentiful spring rains, more leaves and winter snow has resulted in her native gardens with a few “others” mixed in. She is constantly adding new plants and enjoyed getting input from the group on what to do and improve.

Click here to view pictures from the June yard tours.

Work and Learn at Jan Smith Park
Saturday June 10, 2023 9:00 am – 11:00 am 

Long-time member of Wild Ones, Jan Smith, has created a native landscape in a public park which has been described as a native plant museum. The Carol Stream Park District has honored Jan by giving the park her name. We met in June to help Jan plant and weed and we learned about the native plants in the park while we worked.

Click here for more information about Jan Smith Park and here for pictures from our work day events.

Spring Yard Tours
Saturday, May 13, 2023 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Two long-time members of DuPage Wild Ones opened their yards to us to show what was popping up in May and to learn from these experienced native gardeners.

The Paulus’ front yard features a Fruit Guild, which is an ancient technique where mutually beneficial species are planted around a fruit tree to create a thriving, supportive mini-ecosystem. The Paulus’ backyard is home to many woodland plants, including five oak trees on the property.

The Whitney property was located on a cul-de-sac with an island planting created by the Whitneys. They had a curb prairie, and there were many front yard plantings. In the rear yard, there was a nearby stream that added to the ambience.

Click here to view pictures from the Spring yard tours.

Meacham Grove Forest Preserve Nature Walk and Member Garden Tour
Saturday, April 29, 2023 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Steve Windsor, the past chapter president, led us on a leisurely 1.1-mile walk at the Meacham Grove Forest Preserve in Bloomingdale. The Meacham Grove FP was designated as a Nature Preserve in 2012, and our trail was located in a completely forested area. We looked for the Spring ephemeral wildflowers as they bloomed and completed their above-ground life cycle before the trees above leafed out. There were bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, trout lily, and other species. However, what made this place really special was an abundance of white trillium at the back of our trail.

We finished the walk by 10:20 AM. From there, one of our Wild Ones member couples invited us to see their yard, which was adjacent to this forest preserve! They hosted us at 10:30 with coffee and pastries from a lovely gazebo deck built with pavers.

Our hosts were in their second season as homeowners and had already begun adding natives to their yard. They shared their recent plantings with us and welcomed suggestions. Their yard was specially located with a ravine at the back, as well as facing the forest preserve in front. We also had the opportunity to see their two-stage compost system. Pavers gave us access to the whole yard!

It was a leisurely hike and a hosted yard gathering with time to socialize. We joined and had our questions about native plants answered by other Wild Ones members.

Early Spring Tree Identification
Sunday, March 19, 2023 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Long time Wild Ones Member Pat Armstrong held an outdoor workshop on how to identify trees, with a focus on evergreen species. During the afternoon walk, Pat pointed out the identifying characteristics of trees encountered in a suburban neighborhood.

Having a Master’s Degree in Botany and Ecology from the University of Chicago, Pat Armstrong has been teaching classes on all aspects of nature for many years.

The Why, The Where & The How of Rain Gardening
Thursday, April 20, 2023 7:00 pm

When you hear ‘rain garden,’ does it conjure up visions of standing wet places and open water? Well, that is typically not a rain garden at all! Usually, a rain garden is a dry place, except after a rainstorm. Simply put, rain gardens are designated as low, shallow ‘bowls’ in the ground that can receive runoff from your roof, driveway, or sump pump, giving the water just enough time to soak into the ground.

Rain is a valuable resource. Jim Kleinwachter, Land Preservation Specialist for The Conservation Foundation and manager of the Conservation@Home Program, presented to us why it’s a great idea to incorporate a rain garden within your landscape. He also discussed how to find the best location in your yard to temporarily use/store the rainwater and how a rain garden would beautify your landscape while benefiting wildlife, providing habitat and food for birds and pollinators.

The Conservation Foundation Build Your Own Rain Garden Guide

Wild Orchids of Illinois
Thursday, February 23, 2023 7:00 pm

Illinois is home to over 50 species of orchids and many are very rare.  Join botanist Chris Benda, aka Illinois Botanizer, as he discusses the natural history of orchids and presents photos of all the species native to Illinois.  You can visit Chris Benda’s website at https://illinoisbotanizer.com and his Facebook page at

Click here to view a recording of the program.

Here are some books that Chris recommends to learn more about the orchids in Illinois:
Wild Orchids of Illinois by Glen Spelman Winterringer, 1967
An Introduction to the Ecology of the Illinois Orchidaceae by Charles J. Sheviak, 1974
Vascular Flora of Illinois: a field guide by Robert H. Mohlenbrock, 2014

The Cranes Over Illinois
Thursday January 19, 2023 7:00 pm 

lllinois’ wetlands are home to Sandhill Cranes and endangered Whooping Cranes. In the not-so-distant past, both Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes faced near extinction throughout North America as they battled with increasing threats of unregulated hunting and habitat loss. Thanks to widespread conservation efforts, Sandhill Cranes are now one of the most populous crane species in the world and Whooping Crane populations, while still endangered, are slowly growing. Today DuPage County residents see around 20,000 Sandhill Cranes and 80 Whooping Cranes during migration each year! Unfortunately, Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes continue to face threats in Illinois and across their flyway. Stephanie Schmidt, Whooping Crane outreach coordinator for the International Crane Foundation showed us how to identify Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes, talked about the history of both crane species, the current work crane conservation partners are doing to protect cranes in Illinois and throughout their flyways, and about how you can be an ambassador for cranes in Illinois as a volunteer and citizen scientist.

Click here to view a recording of the program.

Click here to sign a pledge to protect Whooping Cranes and to learn more about other things you can do to protect them.

Click here to participate in the Midwest Crane Count.