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Spring Wildflower Walk May 3

    Join museum biologist Jerome Johnson for a spring wild flower tour of the Garfield Harley Pond and Woods on Sunday, May 3 at 9:30 am. Participants will meet at Garfield Farm Museum are encouraged to wear long pants, hiking shoes, and their favorite insect repellant.

    Though skunk cabbage already started blooming back in late February, most people associate spring beauties and blood root as the first signs of spring. The blooming schedule started mostly on time this year with blood root in full bloom by April 15 but other spring flowers have come forward in fits and starts. Cooler temperatures have prolonged their bloom though the last week of Aprils warm temperatures may hasten the full flush of the spring bloom. There should still be plenty of samples left this first few days of May to warm the most chilled of winter hearts.

    Spring ephemerals as they are known must quickly grow, flower and set seed before the woodland trees leaf out and shade the plants at the woodland floor. The Garfield Harley Pond and Woods is also an ephemeral situation, as winter melt and spring rains initially fill this acre plus sized wetland but the coming dry days of summer will eliminate any pooling of water. This is perfect habitat for native frogs and salamanders to safely lay their eggs in and then develop as there are no fish to eat the young. Chorus frogs, American toads, and tree frogs are the most typical inhabitants with their fellow amphibian, the tiger salamander, in this remnant oak savanna. Being the first week of May, migrating birds, especially warblers should be overhead as life rebounds from the snows of winter.

    Ephemeral ponds or vernal pools are the most endangered wetlands because typically they can be very small and temporary so landowners may not even recognize their importance for wildlife. There are no regulations to protect the smallest ones that might not be much more than a low spot most of the year in one’s yard. Rainfall levels are also critical for them as some may only exist in the wettest springs just long enough for tadpoles to become frogs.

    The 9 acre Garfield Harley Pond and Woods was purchased by the museum’s Campton Historic Agricultural Lands in 2002 with the help of a Kane County Riverboat grant, an Army Corps of Enigneers/U.S.Fish and Wildlife grant and funds from museum donors. It served as a nucleus to make the minimum of 41 adjacent acres eligible for the Campton Township Open Space Program which established the Harley Woods Preserve in 2008.

    There is a $6 donation for the walk and reservations can be made by calling 630 584-8485 or e-mail Garfield Farm Museum. Garfield Farm Museum’s three inseparable themes of history, farming and nature make this woodland walk a relevant piece of historic farming that called for woodlots amongst the treeless prairies to sustain the need for building materials and firewood. Garfield Farm Museum is a historically intact 375 acre former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn that is being restored as an 1840s working farm. It will celebrate its 38th anniversary this May. The museum is located at 3N016 Garfield Road off Ill Rt. 38 in Campton Hills, IL, just west of Geneva, IL.