This spring Citizens for Conservation's Habitat Corridors program moved forward with its native plant enthusiasts visiting many Barrington-area properties to make suggestions for using more natives as well as earth-friendly maintenance practices. Volunteers accomplished more than 35 visits during that time.
We are inspired by the enthusiasm with which homeowners are embracing native plants and the birds, pollinators, amphibians and other small creatures which use them. People get excited when they see that the milkweed they planted is actually acting as host for monarch butterflies and their larvae. They are thrilled to see individuals of our declining populations of bumblebees, honey bees, and assorted butterflies using their native plants.
In turn we are thrilled to see so many more homeowners using their fall leaves as mulch, raking them under trees and bushes to provide winter shelter for the myriad soil denizens who help break down organic matter and enrich the earth. Many more residents are using rain barrels and making compost. Many homes have birdbaths and feeders, but most important is that they are eagerly including native plants in their landscape plans.
One of the homes I enjoyed visiting had a standard-size yard in a nearby suburb. The homeowner had just purchased the home and wanted his new stepchildren to experience the joys of nature – birds, bees, butterflies, and all the others. We discussed trees and shrubs he could install, but I specifically suggested a pedestal birdbath in a sunny area with cardinal flower planted around the base. He could dump the birdbath and refill it daily allowing the cardinal flower to stay moist as it requires. I could almost guarantee they would see hummingbirds during the summer. I was pleased to hear that the homeowner implemented my suggestions. The children will love the increased activity from local critters attracted by his efforts.
Let's keep it up. Habitat Corridors will continue visiting homes and other properties throughout the growing season. To schedule a visit, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call CFC at 847-382-SAVE. I had hoped to visit these yards to inspire homeowners to healthier environmental practices, but somewhere along the way they are inspiring me! Their enthusiasm is marvelous.
Meredith Tucker is a member of the board of directors of Citizens for Conservation, co-chair of the Community Education Committee, and managing editor of CFC News.