Looking for creative inspiration for your backyard garden? Ponder the possibilities as you stroll through the Native Plant Demonstration Garden on the west side of the Pottawatomie Community Center.
Featuring native trees, shrubs, wild flowers, grasses, sedges, ferns and vines, the 35,000-square-foot garden situated along the Fox River will give you plenty of ideas to begin imagining how the different varieties will add to your current landscape.
“We make it look like a garden you could have in your own backyard,” said Naturalist Joan Kramer, explaining how the garden shows native plants, growing naturally, grouped with the same plant and mixed with other plants. Not to mention the pathways throughout and benches that add to the natural, relaxing setting.
The garden is self-guided with brochures located by the paddlewheel riverboat launch, and signs throughout that provide the plants’ botanical and common names. Some natives to look forward to blooming this summer are sand coreopsis, spikenard, swamp milkweed, yellow coneflower and showy black-eyed Susan – to name a few of the varieties.
Comprised of woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna conditions, the garden casts a wide net for the type of species residents can plant at home, dependent on their particular conditions.
“Native plants belong here, so they can survive many of the conditions non-native plants cannot; even perennials which are supposed to come up each year, sometimes do not survive the winters,” Kramer said.
As the garden is situated by the river and is/can be underwater three weeks at a time, native plants are even able to withstand floods.
“Native plants will survive – that’s an important factor,” Kramer stressed. As such, natives are low maintenance, not requiring excessive watering or chemical treatments.
Natives also help pollinators survive and are vital in supporting a diverse population of other native species including birds, insects and bees – allowing them to thrive in their natural environment.
Throughout the year, educational programs are held for all ages in the garden, but even on a day with nothing scheduled, residents are encouraged to pick up a brochure and view the display boards that highlight “What’s Blooming in the Native Plant Garden.” Staff availability and access to the community center will depend on COVID-19 restrictions.
For more information, visit www.stcparks.org. Pottawatomie Park is located at 8 North Ave., St. Charles.