Northtown Garden Society
Weaving left: Federal Black/CalderRed inspired by the Federal Building and the Calder sculpture in the Federal Plaza.
Weaving right: Inspired by the colors of the Northpark Village Nature Center.
Kirsten LoVerde of the Openlands Project, which serves NE Illinois, NW Indiana and SE Wisconsin, spoke about their programs with schools and community organizations. Working where the Great Lakes meet the open plains, Openlands' mission is to connect the people of the Chicago region to nature where they live. In addition to sponsoring the Tree Keepers program, they work with schools and their communities in developing community gardens or converting unused open areas such as asphalt parking lots to teaching, relaxation and play areas that use principles of good water management. For more information on the important work they do, visit their web site.
In addition to the presentation, we held our annual seed and plant exchange.
On Thursday evening, West Ridge Nature Center representative, Gary Morrisey. gave a slide presentation of the historical evolution of the nature preserve.
On the following Saturday, we had a tour of the preserve and picniked in a shady area.
The West Ridge Nature Preserve is located along the north western edge of Rosehill Cemetery (entrance is off Western Avenue just south of Peterson Avenue). The cemetery sold the property to the City of Chicago. It was then sold to the Chicago Park District who hired professional naturalists to develop it into an amazing nature preserve filled with new native plants, boardwalks and fishing area. It is 20.585 acres of restored woodland, 4.5 acre pond, a one mile multipurpose trail around the park with elevated overlook, educational and interpretive signage for easy identification of plantings and native trees. There are fishing stations, wildlife viewing opportunities, such as deer, coyotes, butterflies, turtles and a variety of birds. Pets are not allowed.
Our 2nd guest speaker, John Swenson, has been fascinated by seeds since he planted his first garden at age 5. He started collecting shallots and garlic in the 1970s and joined Seed Savers Exchange in 1984. Then he began serious collecting and research while swapping Alliums with government agencies in East Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Malaysia. The height of his collecting was reached with his participation in the three-nation Allium Expedition to Central Asia in 1989. He has since been searching out and obtaining seed of rare peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and others and has donated many of them to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where he volunteers as an interpreter in the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden.
Mr. Swenson provided seed samples for us to try at home.
Our guest speaker, Ann McIntee, who is beloved by several NGS members, is the owner of A. McIntee Landscape Design. Ann earned a Certificate of Merit in garden design from the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her business services include garden design and installation, garden renovation, maintenance and seasonal container design.
Of many useful ideas that Ann suggested for keeping your garden low maintenance, several were:
To contact Ann, look under More/Resources on this site.
We also held a drawing for a lovely flower arrangement created by NGS member, Devra Wagner.
L to R: Nancy Wieting, Pamela Feldman, Sheila Mayol and Eva Mannaberg
Jeanne Nolan spoke to us about her career as an organic farmer. Jeanne's book, "From the Ground Up" chronicles her journey from Winnetka to California, North Carolina and back again. Along the way she learned about organic farming on a large scale. Once she returned to Chicago she put her knowledge to use, starting the Organic Gardener LTD. Her accomplishments grew to include educator and consultant. She partnered with the Green City Market to design and install a 5,000 square foot vegetable garden for children at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Our first speaker, Wen-Yi Stark, accompanied by her family, entertained us with tales of raising chickens in the city. She has 14 chickens including new chicks who provide colorful eggs for the family and for sale. The color of the egg shell is determined by the breed of chicken. Her enterprise has been accepted with no complaints by her neighbors mostly because there is no rooster to wake people up in the morning. She has found that chickens will eat anything, including all of the grass in her backyard, but she gives them regular feed for chickens.
Our speaker, Pamela Feldman, captivated us with her discussion of making dyes from plants she has grown and weaving rugs from wool yarn she has dyed. Ms. Felman is a master dyer, conducts fabric dye research and teaches weaving and dyeing classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Some of the plants she grows and/or uses to make dyes are weld, madder, Japanese indigo, cota, and cutch...not your everyday plants found in a perennial garden. She maintains a garden of plants for dyeing at the North Park Village Community Garden. Her inspiration for the rugs she weaves comes from visiting sites around Chicago as shown below.
In addition, she is the designer and editor of the online news journal,
Brianne Heath spoke to us about founding and developing her "you - pick- it" Pie Patch farm; which is located at 5045 S. Laflin in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Traditional fruits and vegetables used to make pies, such as pumpkins, strawberries and apples are grown at The Pie Patch Farm.
A raffle was held giiving away potted spring plants graciously created and donated by NGS member, Dev Wagner.
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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