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26th Annual Native Plant Seminar
Native Solutions to Manage Retention Ponds, Canada Geese and Ash Tree Loss

CAMPTON HILLS, IL     Reservations for Garfield Farm Museum's 26th annual Prairie, Woodlands, and Wetlands Management Seminar to be held on Saturday, February 18, from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm are now being taken. From backyard gardeners, home owner associations to owners of natural area acreage, this seminar covers all the key methods and techniques of preserving and using the best adapted plants for the Illinois environment. Experts Jack Pizzo, John Engstrom, Conner Shaw and Jerome Johnson will help explain the best techniques and methods to increase and maintain native plants communities. There is a $50 donation for the all day seminar which includes lunch and refreshments. Attending two presentations without lunch is $25.

     The day's outline will consist of researching property history, identifying native plants, identifying invasive species and the use of fire, herbicides, cutting and brush stacking equipment. Special topics include, managing ponds and common areas and the use of native trees and shrubs.

     As modern development has occurred in urban and rural areas, the impact and scale of that change calls for affordable solutions. The 1990s flooding of suburban neighborhoods called for new development policies. Storm water management programs required water to be held back on site and so retention ponds became a new feature in growing neighborhoods. Yet digging a hole to collect excess run off begs the question of how does a neighborhood take responsibility for its long term care. Common area mowing, bank erosion, herbicide run off into the pooled water, safety issues, and an unexpected consequence, over wintering Canada geese, have made these suburban oases into aquatic nightmares. For the homeowner lucky enough to own a pond with several acres of clipped grass, the problems can loom just as large. Jack Pizzo of Pizzo & Associates, Ltd. of Leland, IL will speak on “Managing Natural Areas and Ponds: A Primer for the Landowner and Homeowners Association”. His firm is one of the few that can deal with small to large scale management and restoration issues.

     All wild plants and animals are not equal when it comes to the natural world. A plant or insect from half way around the world might be a bigger threat in its new location than where it originated. Non-native species can suddenly thrive in a new locale where none of its predators, pathogens (diseases)or competition exists. In addition, native insects will typically not eat plants from other parts of the world, so the nonnative plant decreases food availability which in turn means less food for birds.  This is no new story to residents of northern Illinois as the Asian emerald ash borer is killing all ash trees in towns and forests. The long term picture is problematic but Conner Shaw knows what trees and shrubs can thrive here and provide a food source for animals. Shaw is one of the few people who collects seed from the wild and can grow native Illinois trees and shrubs like few others. Since 1978, his Possibilities Place Nursery in Monee, IL is one of a kind. For homeowners in town who want just the right tree for their backyard, Shaw knows what will grow in such suburban conditions. For larger properties, his combinations of native shrubs like the viburnums and deciduous oaks or Kentucky coffee trees makes one's landscaping truly grand scale.

    For property owners who are looking to turn the backyard in to a natural area to large acreage owners, Johnson and Engstrom will bring their years of experience to the table. Jerome Johnson, executive director and museum biologist grew up walking the fields, woods, and streams around Garfield Farm. Recalling woods full of spring flowers little did he realize how rare such features would become with habitat loss, invasive plants, and over grazing by deer which were once rarely seen. Housing developments certainly caused loss but without management, Johnson quickly learned at Garfield Farm, its prairie and woods were struggling to survive. With the addition of John Engstrom as natural area manager to the museum's staff, Engstrom's knowledge of chemical control methods has complemented Johnson's increase use of mechanical means to aid the classic use of controlled burns. Their combined management experience will offer the property owners or aspiring volunteer restorationists the necessary tools to be successful and avoid re-inventing the wheel.

     This seminar has both a history and method unlike any others. It offers information that can be directly taken to the field and put in place. Participants are welcome to return in March to gain hands on experience in the museum's controlled burns.

   Garfield Farm Museum is located five miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. For reservations call 630 584-8485 or email

For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.