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Create Your Own Pollinator-friendly Garden with ‘Plant by Numbers’ Templates

Photo for: Create Your Own Pollinator-friendly Garden with ‘Plant by Numbers’ Templates

Photo by Tina Riley

If you’ve been yearning to install a nature-friendly landscape around your home, the “Plant by Numbers” initiative starting June 1 at Isle a la Cache preserve in Romeoville will point you in the right direction.

Inspired by the paint-by-numbers activity we all enjoyed as kids, the program provides templates for planting in full sun, full shade and partial shade areas. Plans also are available for both streetside gardens designed for easements and streamside gardens designed for areas with wet soil. Participants who join the initiative will be on their way to creating beautiful, low-maintenance, and pollinator-friendly landscaping. 

The initiative also will feature on-site signage at Isle a la Cache to help introduce people to the native, pollinator-friendly plants growing in the preserve.

Participants are invited to visit Isle a la Cache preserve to get inspired by the terraced pollinator garden, now in its second year, and the museum landscaping. The emerging plants in the pollinator garden will be labeled. The pollinator garden is accessible via a paved trail over uneven terrain. Please note: While the preserve is open from 8 a.m. to sunset, Isle a la Cache Museum remains closed due to COVID-19 precautions.

Once you view the Isle a la Cache garden, you can correlate the plants to some of the mature plants and flowers featured in the easy-to-use, color planting templates and guides available online at 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 provide size-scaled plans, full-color photos of plants, 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!”


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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