Northtown Garden Society

Chicago, Illinois


Ann's Fans

Gardens at Bethany

Distribution pre-1800; 400-800 pairs

Distribution in 1983; 12 pairs

Adult piping plover

Parent with one of the chicks

Chick learning to fly

Photo Credits:

Above right: Tamina Itani

Left: Susan Szeszol,  both photos

Matt with fellow bird monitors and NGS members,  Jill Niland and Sig Schmidt.


Putting Your garden to Bed

Landscaper, Ann McIntee, spoke to us about preparing our gardens for the winter. Ann cares for many of NGS member gardens so we know she knows what she is talking about. Some helpful hints:
  • You do not have to cut back everything to the ground. Leaving stems adds to the garden's winter interest.
  • You do not have to cut roses back but you should cut off all buds. You can mulch around the base of the plant but do NOT use rose cones.
  • Cut back your irises and look for borers.  If you find them, get rid of the plant.

Arthur Lee and NGS Member, Jeffrey Rovner

Abigail Watkins and NGS Member, Bob Radycki


Medical Cannabis

Our two presenters were Abigail Watkins and Arthur Lee who represented Dispensary 33. They were helpful and informative about medical marijuana in Illinois. They answered our questions about qualifying for a medical cannabis card and the safety and quality of the products they offer.


Svalbord Global Seed Vault and Music of Nature

We watched a short video about the seed vault and then had a discussion afterwards led by Eva Mannaberg in reference to the book: Seeds on Ice, by Cary Fowler. After the war in Iraq, seeds from the vault were used to restore the destroyed habitat.
Afterward, we had a special musical presentation by violinist, Rebecca Boelzner, who is currently a fellow with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and her string quartet,  who entertained us with original music inspired by nature.


The Great Lakes Piping Plover Story

Starting in the late spring, the City of Chicago and, eventually the nation, was captivated by a pair of nesting Great Lakes Piping Plovers who chose Montrose Beach as the place to start a family. This particular pair, nicknamed "Monty" and "Rose", had been followed by the National Wildlife Service and local birding groups from Waukegan to the beach.Their story is full of high drama, false starts, dangerous predators, cancelled concerts and many hours of volunteers watching the nesting site of this endangered species to protect mom and dad, the 4 eggs and, ultimately, the 2 surviving chicks who fledged in the middle of August.
This story, as told by Matt Iglesias, who was a volunteer organizer for the bird monitors, was spell-binding. The conservation efforts are working.

George Titterson, President of the Illinois Orchid Society, entertained us with his delightful presentation on growing orchids, those wonderful plants that aren't as fussy as some people believe. The Orchid Society meets at the Chicago Botanic Gardens on the 2nd Sunday of the month at noon. Guests are welcome.

Things we learned:

  • Don't plant them in soil. Orchid roots need an airy mixture of pine bark chips and/or spaghnum moss. A little perlite doesn't hurt. Orchids in nature grow on trees.
  • Water your orchids weekly by soaking the  plant roots thoroughly then letting them dry out. Put them in the sink and give them several waterings with the sprayer or let them soak in a pan for awhile so that the rooting medium is thoroughly wet. Do not let them sit in water or use ice cubes - they don't like cold feet.
  • Orchids do not like salt so if you have softened water, don't use it to water your orchids.
  • Fertilize them with a weak orchid fertilizer solution weekly.
  • Repot them when there are signs that the rooting medium is breaking down or there is an abundance of aerial roots and when they are not in bloom. You do not have to repot them every year.
  • When the orchid is finished blooming, cut the stem back to the lowest node. Then keep watering it and wait patiently for it to bloom again.  Just because it doesn't bloom right away doesn't mean it is dead. It's worth the wait. Many orchids only bloom once a year or less frequently.
  • Orchids like bright light but no direct sun. An east window is ideal.
  • Let your orchids have an outdoor vacation in the summer. Hang them in a tree and make sure they are watered weekly. Rain is good for them

George Titterson

Doug Taron and NGS member, Kathy Kirn


More Butterflies

Doug Taron of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center returned for another fascinating look at butterflies we may find in the midwest in addition to the monarchs. He spoke of those who are endangered and will probably not be seen in this area again and efforts to restore the lost habitats of previously abundant species to bring them back. 


Growing Orchids

The Gardens at Bethany; Veggie Talk

NGS member, Dorothy Bird, spoke about the process (and difficulties) of developing gardens for the Bethany Retirement Home. 

NGS member, Ruth Melulis, spoke about saving seeds, starting seeds indoors and growing healthy and tasty vegetables.


Plant Considerations for the residential Landscape

Urban landscape designer, Kim Kaulas, spoke about horticultural, aesthetic and maintenance issues when designing an urban garden. She provided wonderful slides showing design mistakes as well as the components of good design.


Kim Kaulas


Our monthly programs are usually held on the 1st Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM in the Warren Park Field House, 6601 N. Western Ave. Chicago.


We usually feature a social get-together with refreshments followed by a guest speaker.

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