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posted: 2/11/2013 2:02 PM

Garfield Farm seminar looks at native landscaping

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Submitted by Garfield Farm Museum

Reservations are now being taken for Garfield Farm Museum's 27th annual Prairie, Woodlands and Wetlands Management Seminar from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.

From backyard gardeners, homeowner associations to owners of natural area acreage, this seminar covers all the key methods and techniques of preserving and using the best adapted plants for the Illinois environment.

Experts Al Roloff, Roy Diblik, Conner Shaw and Jerome Johnson will help explain the best techniques and methods to increase and maintain native plant communities.

There is a $50 donation for the all-day seminar, which includes lunch and refreshments. Half-day attendance without lunch is $25. The seminar will be at Garfield Farm Museum, 3N016 Garfield Road, Campton Hills. Contact (630) 584-8485 or email

The day's outline will consist of researching property history, identifying native plants, identifying invasive species and the use of fire, herbicides, cutting and brush stacking equipment. Special topics include using native species with ornamental plants and the use of native trees and shrubs in home landscaping.

The drought of 2012 does not appear to be letting up in 2013, which means maintaining landscaping will increase in time, cost and effort. Many communities may restrict watering of lawns and gardens. This is where the collective experiences of the seminar's speakers will help guide property owners in selecting plants that are genetically programmed to withstand climatic extremes.

The long-term picture is problematic, but Conner Shaw knows what trees and shrubs can thrive here and provide a food source for animals. Shaw is one of the few people who collects seed from the wild and can grow native Illinois trees and shrubs like few others.

Since 1978, his Possibilities Place Nursery in Monee is one of a kind. For homeowners in town who want just the right tree for their backyard, Shaw knows what will grow in such suburban conditions. For larger properties, his combinations of native shrubs like the viburnums and deciduous oaks or Kentucky coffee trees makes one's landscaping truly grand scale.

Roy Diblik, who has been growing native grasses and flowers from seed since the late 1970s, knows how critical soil preparation and mechanical or chemical control of "weeds" are when he installs more formal landscape plantings, be it public parks or palatial estates.

From Northwind Perennial Farm in Springfield, Wis., Diblik has consulted and supplied plants for around the country and has published a book, "Small Perennial Gardens: The Know Maintenance Approach." His approach is to cut down on the amount of unnecessary maintenance and minimize the use of water.

For property owners who are looking to turn the backyard in to a natural area to large acreage owners, Johnson will bring his 30 years of experience to the table. Jerome Johnson, executive director and museum biologist, grew up walking the fields, woods, and streams around Garfield Farm. Recalling woods full of spring flowers, little did he realize how rare such features would become with habitat loss, invasive plants, and over grazing by deer, which were once rarely seen.

Housing developments certainly caused loss, but without management Johnson quickly learned at Garfield Farm, its prairie and woods were struggling to survive.

Al Roloff, natural resource manager of the DeKalb County Forest Preserve, is joining the speakers. Roloff's experience and expertise includes natural area management, with an emphasis on wetland plants.

In the afternoon, he and Jerome Johnson, museum biologist, will conduct a discussion on methods to encourage native plants and discourage aggressive invasive species. Roloff has propagated and raised various native wetland plants and has the special knowledge of working with herbicides to control reed canary grass and phragmites or common reed, which are devastating acres of our rare surviving wetlands.

This seminar has both a history and method unlike any others. It offers information that can be directly taken to the field and put in place. Participants are welcome to return in March to gain hands-on experience in the museum's controlled burns.

Garfield Farm Museum is on Garfield Road, off Route 38 five miles west of Geneva. For reservations, call (630) 584-8485, email or visit [URL];[URL].[/URL]