Northtown Garden Society

Chicago, Illinois


Nancy Wieting, Lauren Umek and Eva Mannaberg

Monarch Caterpillar

Liatris  ligulistylis with Monarchs at West Ridge Nature Preserve

Speaker, Doug Taron and NGS member, Kathy Kirn

Shelly Greenberg and Nancy Weiting, seed exchange


The Monarch and Its Migration

Speaker, Doug Taron, of the Peggy Notebaert Museum, enthralled  his audience with the breadth and depth of his knowledge and research on the migration patterns of the Monarch butterfly. Did you know that the butterflies who arrive in Chicago in May-June are not the same ones that leave on their winter migration to Mexico via Arizona? The ones who migrate in September are the "grandchildren" of the ones who arrive here  in the summer.  And, in Mexico, they winter by the millions in the same area northwest of Mexico City near Quadalajara.

Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed where the caterpillar hatches and feeds on the leaves. The adult monarchs feed on sweet nectar provided by plants such as Butterrfly Bush or  Liatris.

Following the program, we conducted a seed exchange.



Julie Peterson

Photo from PHNRC website


Chicago River Restoration


Our featured October meeting guest speaker was Lauren Umek who joined the Chicago Park District in 2014 as a Project Manager  in the Department of Cultural and Natural Resources working on the Natural Areas team. She has 15 years of experience in natural area restoration and recently completed her PhD in Plant Biology and Conservation at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Lauren discussed the River Riparian Restoration along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District, the Chicago Park District is working to restore the North Branch of the Chicago River to its pre-1910 state by removing the last dam on the river where it joins the North Shore Channel at Foster Avenue. The dam is being replaced by a series of rock  "dams" to gently lower the river level to the level of the channel as well as aerate the water. Native plantings are planned along the shoreline to stabilize it as well as attract birds, insects and people.  It will mean you can get your kayak or canoe and go all the way from the Skokie lagoons to the Riverwalk.


We appreciate NGS members who brought seeds and perennials to share.


Sandy Wentworth, Ruth Melulis and Eva Mannaberg


Julie Peterson, manager of the garden at Waters School, shared the process of native seed gathering that can be done by anyone who grows native plants and gave an overview of the need for native seed collecting in the Chicago region, honoring the work of many seed experts and efforts such as the North Branch Restoration Project and its leaders. Her presentation then moved to heirloom crop seed saving for backyard gardeners and regional and worldwide efforts to protect seeds, drawing connections to the work of the Seed Freedom Movement and the important issues of patented and heirloom seeds. 

Saving Seeds


Prospect heights Slough Restoration

Five members of the Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission led by Agnes Wojnarski amazed us with their descriptions of the process of restoring a slough to its native state.  This all-volunteer group went from concept to gaining city support to obtaining funding to removing non-native invasive plants to slough restoration. The  actual slough restoration started in 2014 and in 3 years, native plants and wild life are back!

For more information visit their website.


Proven Winners


Sandra Wentworth from Proven Winners, a developer and supplier of patented annuals and perennials to nurseries, spoke to us about their process for developing and sustaining new plant varieties. We learned that:

  1. Proven Winners plants start out as cuttings, not seeds, to maintain their colors and growing habits
  2. Proven Winners plants do not go to seed and generally don't need dead-heading
  3. The plant cuttings are started at the Proven Winners facility and then sent to growers for maturation, potting and distribution to garden centers
  4. Proven Winners plants always have a Proven Winners label


It was a most informative discussion.


Gardening Panel

NGS members, Gordon Stromberg, Ruth Melulis and Ginny Davis, answered a variety of gardening questions posed by audience members. There were a few "stumpers" but other NGS members jumped right in and shared their knowledge.


Travels in the Pantanal


Patricia Weiner is a retired CPS teacher, photographer, naturalist, gardener and avid traveler. Patricia shared stories and photos of her trip to the Pantanal which is an immense tropical wetland located mostly in Brazil. It is home to hundreds of species of birds and fauna such as jaguars, caimans and capybaras. Patricia has won numerous awards for her photographs of animals and birds.
A beautiful selection of mounted photographs of Ms. Weiner's travels  was available for sale.



Patricia Weiner


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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