Native Plant Demonstration Garden
Located in Pottawatomie Park, west of the Community Center along the Fox River
| Only small remnants of native Illinois vegetation survive today. Many native species are unfamiliar to Illinois residents and are considered noxious weeds. These plants are often destroyed instead of being cherished and enjoyed. Native plants thrive on little care and do not require large quantities of water or fertilizer. They are not susceptible to the extreme heat of summer or the rigors of cold winters in Northern Illinois. They show their beauty year round. The use of native plants should be encouraged, not discouraged.
For these reasons, the St. Charles Park District has developed and nurtured its Native Plant Demonstration Garden, which is located along the shores of the Fox River. The Park District's Native Plant Demonstration Garden is unique in that it features the exclusive use of native plants in landscaping. In addition, interpretive signs and a self-guided plant walk brochure add an educational component that is unique and highly unusual. Another important aspect of this project is that it reaches thousands of individuals who visit Pottawatomie Community Center annually, many of whom would not normally be drawn to environmental displays.
There are many native plant community restorations in the Chicagoland area, as well as large and small arboretums and botanic gardens, but there are not many places where people can see only native trees, shrubs, wild flowers, grasses, ferns, groundcovers and sedges as they might look in a more formal, landscaped setting. This project offers that opportunity. The garden is set up so that there are some areas, which are clearly well maintained, and others that are less so. People may view the various areas and then make determination about how they wish to introduce native plants in their own backyards.
The Native Plant Demonstration Garden was started behind the Pottawatomie Community Center in the early 1990s. Armed with some documents that recalled the days when the land along the Fox River was dotted with vacation cottages for people coming out from Chicago, and augmented by a specific site plan drawn up for the demonstration garden, the naturalist department team went about establishing a garden that would help restore the riverfront and encourage people to appreciate the many attributes of native plants.
The goals of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden include:
Native Plant Demonstration Garden featured in City of St. Charles America in Bloom Award Submission and onsite judging tours in 2015 & 2016
Illinois Park & Recreation Association’s Conservation Program Award for the Native Plant Demonstration Garden in 2006
Chicago Wilderness Conservation and Native Landscaping Award for the Native Plant Demonstration Garden in 2005
St. Charles Chamber of Commerce Civic Image Award for the District’s Native Plant and Education Services in 1999