If you’ve been yearning to install a nature-friendly landscape around your home, the “Plant by Numbers: Simple Plans, Beautiful Spaces for Pollinators" initiative at Isle a la Cache in Romeoville will point you in the right direction.
The free initiative will run from Tuesday, April 6, through Sunday, June 6. Inspired by the paint-by-numbers activity we all enjoyed as kids, the program has three components:
- Stroll the trails through the preserve's pollinator garden and landscaping to look for native plants starting to emerge. Use the plant markers to see what the mature plants will look like and learn a bit about each plant. The preserve is open daily from 8 a.m.-sunset and the pollinator garden is accessible via a paved trail over uneven terrain.
- Drop by the museum to pick up full-color planting guides and check out the interactive garden design boards in the "Plant by Numbers" display. The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.
- Pick up a complimentary pack of wildflower seeds to "feed the bees" while supplies last. Limit one per household.
Once you view the Isle a la Cache garden, you can correlate the preserve plants to some of the mature plants and flowers featured in the easy-to-use, color planting templates and guides. While these reference materials can be picked up at the museum, they are also available online at the “Plant by Numbers” website created and shared by the Lexington, Kentucky, Department of Environmental Services.
“We met staff from Lexington at a conference in 2019 and thought that ‘Plant by Numbers’ was a good fit for Will County, too,” said Tina Riley, facility supervisor at Isle a la Cache.
The program is so complete, there was no need to “reinvent the wheel,” Riley added. And it’s the perfect starting point for people who have heard about the importance of pollinators and the use of native plants, but don’t know where to begin because of the overwhelming amount of information that is out there, she said.
“’Plant by Numbers’ provides a ‘grab-and-go’ garden plan that is easy to implement,” Riley said. “The first rule of success is to know the characteristics of the area where you want to plant. Is it dry and sunny? Damp and shady? Or some other combination? ‘Plant by Numbers’ provides plans for a variety of site conditions.”
The templates feature scaled-to-size plans, full-color photos of plants, their common and Latin names, and some buying, planting and maintenance tips.
“The online program beautifully complements Isle a la Cache’s terraced garden and landscaping and it helps spread the word that we need native plants for pollinators – in our preserves, in our yards, along roadsides, everywhere,” Riley said.
And don’t worry about Lexington being in a 6b planting zone and Will County being in a 5b zone, Riley explained.
“The vast majority of plants in their plans are also native to our area,” she said. “In fact, you’ll find many of them planted in the pollinator garden and landscaping here at Isle a la Cache. Just look for the blue signs marking the plants!”
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