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25th Annual Native Plant Seminar

CAMPTON HILLS, IL -- Garfield Farm Museum’s 25th annual Prairie, Woodlands, and Wetlands Management Seminar will be held on Saturday, February 19 from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm. From backyard gardeners 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 Roy Diblik, Cathy McGlynn, Conner Shaw, John Engstrom 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.

    Living in Illinois requires developing an eye for the subtle beauty and uniqueness of this the Prairie State. Even long time residents have yet to fully develop such vision and in part it is no fault of their own. So much of what Illinois was has disappeared. Even the once plentiful farmsteads that dotted the horizon that turned oceans of prairie into fields of corn are themselves disappearing.  So, ironically, the average gardener who calls out heavy artillery when a single dandelion makes its appearance would be aghast if they could as readily see the forests of buckthorn, the mat of garlic mustard, the jungle of false chervil that are dominating our natural areas. This is such a dilemma that simply planting native plants is not enough. Even the federal government has recognized the great damage invasive species of plants are doing to our economics and environment. At the regional level the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) has been established to prevent and control new and existing plant invasions.

    Cathy McGlynn of the NIIPP will be a special featured speaker at the 25th annual seminar. The other season veteran speakers already know that management of these invasive plants is an ongoing battle that neglected makes effort to plant native species almost fruitless. McGlynn will offer up the latest challenges and methods.

     Roy Diblik who has been growing native grasses and flowers from seed since the late 1970s, knows how critical soil preparation and mechanical or chemical control of weeds are when he installs more formal landscape plantings be it public parks or palatial estates. From Northwind Perennial Farm in Springfield, WI, Diblik has consulted and supplied plants for around the country and has published a book “Small Perennial Gardens: The Know Maintenance Approach.”

     Connor Shaw is one of the few people who collect 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 used 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.

     The day’s outline will consist of researching property history, identifying native plants, soil preparation for planting in garden settings, use of native trees and shrubs, identifying invasive species and the use of fire, herbicides, and cutting and brush stacking equipment. 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.