Now that spring plants are happily nestled in your landscape, it’s time to set your sights on summer blooms that will carry the color throughout the growing season and provide nectar and nesting space for pollinators.
To help get you started, The Nature Foundation of Will County is hosting its “Summer Blooms Native Plant Sale” starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 19. Orders must be placed by midnight, Saturday, July 31; however, plants may sell out prior to July 31, so order early.
An online plant list is up on the foundation’s website now, so you can peruse the plant offerings in advance of the sale. The list is subject to change and revisions will be posted as necessary by the foundation.
After ordering your summer selections, plants can be picked up on Friday, August 13, or Saturday, August 14, at Isle a la Cache Preserve, 501 E. 135th Street, in Romeoville.
This is the first year the foundation is offering a summer plant sale in addition to the annual spring plant sale, “Bringing Nature Home Native Plant Sale.”
“The spring sale was incredibly popular, and we sold out fast," said Cindy Harn, the foundation's executive director. "We never imagined we would sell over 10,000 plants so quickly. But, that’s really great news. It means more people are interested in native plants and when they purchase native plants, they are making a conscious choice to improve the amount and quality of healthy, sustainable habitat in their yards.”
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The summer sale was inspired by the work of Heather Holm, an award-winning author, biologist and pollinator conservationist, Harn explained.
“Holm emphasizes the importance of providing late-blooming native plants, which provide nectar and nesting for bees, butterflies and a wealth of other insects as they prepare for the winter or for migration,” Harn said. “Late-blooming native plants like asters provide pollen full of protein, lipids, vitamins and minerals that bees use to make bee bread, an energy rich food that they feed to growing larvae.”
The plants featured in the foundation’s sale will bloom from August through October and some might even last into November, Harn added.
“We’ve included eight different goldenrod species and eight different asters, each with its own set of sun and moisture requirements,” she said. “With that selection, almost everyone should be able to find the right goldenrod and aster for their yard, even if they have shade.”
Also on the list are black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, coreopsis, blazing stars and more, including native grasses, sedges, and collections focusing on prairie, wetland, woodland and October blooms.
In addition to the online plant sale, a select group of native plants will be available for purchase during the pickup event. These will be individual species only, Harn said. Quantities will be limited. A list of available species will be announced in early August.
The summer plant sale also includes a raffle. Prizes range from free native plants, garden essentials and artwork to nature-themed jewelry, hand-made bird houses, garden décor and VIP experiences. Raffle tickets are $5 and ticket sales close at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 31.
Finally, when plant customers pick up their orders, they will be invited to stay for a “Summer Blooms Gathering,” Harn said. Tickets are $25 per person. The event will feature food, drink, live music, an evening campfire and access to the museum, longhouse and Traders Cabin. The event will raise funds for an “all-persons” interpretive trail at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon.
This is the second of three plant sales organized by the foundation this year for spring, summer and fall. The final plant sale is called "Oaktober! Native Tree and Shrub Sale" with an online start date of September 4. Complete details will be available later this summer.
Also, if you need help with your garden, check out the foundation’s Learn and Grow page for information on planting native species, pollinators and free webinars.
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