Spring into Summer Family Fest welcomes native plants specialist

Mundelein's Beautification Committee has planned a Spring into Summer Family Fest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at Tighthead Brewery.

One of the festival highlights will be the keynote speaker Kelsay Shaw, who will present a discussion about native plants and pollinators at 12:30 p.m. Shaw has a Bachelor of Science degree in botany from Eastern Illinois University and has been doing work in the industry for more than 25 years.

He has taught classes on native plants and lectured about their uses and environmental impacts.

He is the owner of Possibility Place Nursery, which specializes in growing trees, shrubs and perennials that are indigenous to northeast Illinois. Ninety percent of Possibility Place plants' seeds are collected in Northern Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Plants grown from seed collected in these areas are better adapted to the greater Chicago area than plants grown from seed collected further east and south. The soil and climate have tested these plants for 8,000 years and only the strong have survived.

Currently, the nursery raises over 150 species of trees and shrubs and nearly 200 species of grasses and sedges.

Shaw also serves as botanist and sales consultant with municipalities, park districts, forest preserves and golf courses, as well as homeowners. He speaks on many topics, including wetland design and species, native plants in the landscape, shade gardening, woody production, garden borders and trees and shrubs for the Midwest.

"Some say that just because a plant is native, it won't necessarily grow in our urban soil. We have often wondered how anything will grow on some new urban sites," Shaw said.

"On some of these sites, the only difference between the soil and brick is the color! However, for every site, urban or otherwise, there is a native plant that will fit it. It is just a question of putting the right plant in the right place."

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