It takes a village to help the Monarchs

Carol Becker and Cindy Grau, from the  Go Green Park Ridge Committee
Carol Becker and Cindy Grau, from the Go Green Park Ridge Committee
A single seedling with great rooting!
A single seedling with great rooting!

Sage Advice pleased to be able to offer help to an energetic committee in Park Ridge Illinois that is working to increase awareness of sustainability in our home suburb! One of the major projects of the committee this year is their Milkweed Project. The goal is to distribute 500 milkweed plants throughout the community this summer to help support Monarch butterflies. Committee members collected seeds last fall and this spring worked with Pizzo Native Plant Nursery who generously offered to stratify and germinate the seeds at their facility in Leland, Illinois. Plants will be ready in June for distribution throughout the community. Lurvey Landscape Supply in Des Plaines has offered to provide individual pots for seedings, and plants will be ready for distribution throughout the community in June. Committee members recently donated a day to help Pizzo Nursery transplant more than 8000 seedings into plug trays.

Thousands of plugs are replanted each day in spring.
Tens of thousands of plugs are replanted each day in spring.

Daylilies always brighten the garden

We had the rare privilege of visiting recently with daylily expert Ann Redmon from Manhattan Kansas. Ms. Redmon has cross-bred many daylilies in her acerage to create new varieties, and has registered four of them. Pictured here is one of her registered lilies, called “Hannah Banana.” Daylilies are great in any garden. But remember, you want cultivated varieties, not the common and very tall orange “ditch lilies” that spread by rhizomes and crowd out cultivated plants.

Daylilies are easy to care for and add bright spots of midsummer color in shades of yellow, orange, red, white, pink, even green like this one, and combinations of these colors. Ms. Redmon specializes in creating new lilies with narrower petals and a more modern look.

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Sage Advice teaches Landscape for Life™ Classes

Carol Becker, owner at Sage Advice, will once again be teaching Landscape for Life™ this spring.

This series is designed for homeowners, and will teach you how to attract beneficial insects and birds, eliminate water problems, build healthy soil, cultivate a safe lawn, and reduce maintenance time in your garden.

Lurvey Landscape Supply 2550 Dempster St., Des Plaines, will offer the series in their new garden center starting April 2 and running for four consecutive Saturday mornings from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Ms. Becker will teach all classes. Sign up HERE

The Morton Arboretum will offer the series starting April 19 in four evening classes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and a final class on Saturday April 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ms. Becker will be teaching the final class in this series. Sign up HERE.

Join us to learn how to create a great looking garden that’s healthier for you, your family, your pets, you pocketbook and the environment.

Here’s how you can support pollinators

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Native plants play a special role for pollinators in providing habitat for their own life cycle. We are all most familiar with the necessity of having milkweed available to support the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed to support the caterpillar that eventually becomes a Monarch butterfly. Other insects, including the all-important pollinating bees, also require specific native plants for their life cycle. We can help them by including some native plants in our gardens.
Here’s a list to get you started: milkweed, including butterfly weed, swamp milkweed, and common milkweed; thistle (as pictured); coneflower, particularly the native purple coneflower; monarda, coreopsis, foxglove penstemon; black-eyed Susan, and several grasses including little bluestem, panicum, prairie dropseed, and June grass.

Roof Gardens for Residential Sites

We’re pleased to present new pictures of Sage Advice Test Gardens, where we develop design solutions, test plants, and practice sustainability techniques.

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In these views you can see the roof garden, built 4 seasons ago to test techniques for building a small roofgarden on a shed or playhouse. During the last four seasons we have tested and retested plants the work in this environment, and we’ve identified those that flouish with little or no care.

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Try these native plants for color and variety

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A customer who has lots of coneflowers and coreopsis in his native plant garden recently asked me for a list of less common wildflowers that would add color to his summer garden, and I worked up this list:
Asclepias tuberosa (shown above) — this is the midsummer blooming orange butterfly weed that goes well with coneflowers and coreopsis

Amsonia — there are several native versions of this plant, commonly called bluestar. Amsonia illustris or Amsonia tabernaemontana are two that come to mind. Amsonia bloom right alongside and among the coreopsis and spreads nicely among other plants.

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Monarda bradburiana (above) is a beautiful and less common native beebalm if you can get it. The color of the leaves is a darker almost smoky green and it forms a nice clump.

Indian physic, Porteranthus stipulatus is a delicate plant with feathery leaves that forms a nice, airy clump among your grasses and has small starry white flowers. It’s captivating among other wildflowers.

Also plant some native asters for fall color. Sky blue aster, Symphyotrychium oolentangiense is a nice, delicate blue but can spread quite annoyingly if conditions are right. New England Aster, Symphyotrychium novae-angliae or smooth blue aster Symphyotrychium laeve are also options.

The biggest rain barrel you have ever seen

Typical water collection tank, Adelaide Australia
Typical water collection tank, Adelaide Australia

This is s typical water collection tank for a home in Adelaide Australia. It holds 20,000 gallons of water and supplies all the water needs for this 3-bedroom house. Water is purified on site and made ready for all uses, including drinking and cooking. All new homes are required to have tanks such as this, and color, placement, and set-up are regulated and inspected. City water is also available, via a huge pipeline, but this household has not used any for the last 4 years. Homeowners also have a separate system for purifying sewage and using the water to irrigate the garden.