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February 2021


Top 10 Things Native Gardeners Need To Know

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Sunday, February 21st, 2021
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Top 10 Things Native Gardeners Need To Know

Presenter: Chicago-based horticulturist Ken Williams

Sunday, February 21, 2:30-4:30 pm

Tickets here: Eventbrite

Even if you are an experienced gardener, using native plants is somewhat different. This talk by Chicago-based horticulturist Ken Williams will give you an overview of what native plant gardening is, why it is important, and how it is different from other types of residential gardening. You will need a computer with access to the internet for this presentation.

March 2021


Native Plants Through the Seasons

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Sunday, March 21st, 2021
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“Native Plants Through the Seasons”
Presenter: Denise Sandoval of Good Natured Landscapes in Naperville, Illinois

March 21, 2:30-4:30 pm

Tickets here:  Eventbrite

Take a journey through the seasons to discover native plants every gardener should try because they are great for wildlife, grow well in a range of conditions and look beautiful in most gardens, including small-medium landscapes. Plus, they’re easy to find or purchase locally. Also learn design tips for each, and receive a helpful handout summarizing this information.

April 2021


Native Plant Gardening Q and A

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Sunday, April 18th, 2021
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“Native Plant Gardening Q&A” 

Monica Buckley of Red Stem Native Landscapes in Chicago, Illinois
Sarah Michehl with The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Illinois

April 18, 2:30-4:30 pm

Tickets here: Eventbrite

Are you curious about native plants? Are you a veteran gardener and want to jump into this world? Or maybe you're looking for an activity to do with your kids that's earth-friendly -- but you've never planted a thing? Get your questions answered! All questions -- simple to complex-- are welcome. How do I plant natives? Where do I buy them? How often should I water them? Which plants are best to start with? Which plants are easiest to propagate by cuttings vs. seeds? What's the best way to incorporate natives into an established garden? Our experts will help you address these questions and more.

May 2021


Be The Super Generation That Saves the Monarch Butterfly!

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Sunday, May 16th, 2021
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Terri Treacy
The Illinois Monarch Project

May 16, 2:30-4:30

Register Here on Eventbrite

You can help save the iconic monarch butterfly!

Please join us for a webinar to celebrate The Year of the Butterfly in Oak Park and River Forest.

"Be the Super Generation That Saves the Monarch Butterfly"

You may have heard that the monarch butterfly faces steep population decline, but there is hope and we can help!

Our speaker Terri Treacy of the Illinois Monarch Project will teach us about the monarch's unique lifecycle, migration patterns, and increasing survival threats. In particular, she will discuss the problem of loss of habitat and The Illinois Monarch Project's plan of action for individuals, organizations and local governments to protect the monarch by planting milkweed and other native plants.

Please register to attend and you will receive a Zoom link 2 days before the presentation.

June 2021


Birds in the Garden: Creating and Enjoying a Bird Oasis

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Sunday, June 13th, 2021
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Meet Chicago's Bird Whisperer Pam Karlson and Learn Her Secrets!

Program Description

Inviting birds into gardens by creating healthy habitat is a joyful way to connect with nature and help support bird populations. This presentation features Pam’s photographs of the Chicago bird garden she created and its bird visitors, illustrating how it’s possible to attract over 100 bird species.

Tips include landscape enhancements, practices and plant selection, with an emphasis on natives and nativars. Chicagoland’s importance along the migratory route, bird species diversity, habitat, diet/foraging, nesting, supplemental support and citizen science will also be discussed. Doug Tallamy’s latest book “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard”, includes Pam’s city garden, exemplifying the power of urban lots.

Register here: Eventbrite

Zoom link will be provided a few days prior to presentation.

Speaker Bio

Pam Karlson is a career artist and certified professional gardener/garden designer. Art, nature and gardening have been her passions since early childhood. She has been rescuing migratory birds since 2004 as a volunteer with licensed wildlife rescue/rehabilitation organizations. Residing in Chicago, she co-owns Waxwing Studio, inc., with her artist husband, specializing in design, illustration, gardening/garden design, and landscape watercolor painting.

July 2021


Native Predatory Wasps: Their Role as Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

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Sunday, July 18th, 2021
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Zoom Town Map

Learn why wasps are good insects for your native garden from Heather Holm, biologist and award-winning author!

Program Description

Native bees and predatory wasps share the same lineage and also share many behaviors and habitat requirements. Predatory wasps feed their offspring invertebrates (insects and spiders) and bees diverged from this carnivorous diet to feed their offspring plant-based food (pollen and nectar). Flower-rich landscapes provide critical habitat for both adult bees and wasps because they each consume flower nectar; in addition, wasps need diverse, flower-rich landscapes to hunt for their prey. Heather will highlight many amazing natural history and biology facts about native wasps illustrating their nesting habitat, prey specificity, and the ecosystems services they provide—pest insect population control and pollination.

Register here: Eventbrite

Zoom link will be sent a two days prior to the presentation.

Speaker Bio

Heather Holm is a biologist, pollinator conservationist, and award-winning author. In addition to assisting with native bee research projects, she informs and educates audiences nationwide, through her writing and many presentations, about the fascinating world of native pollinators and beneficial insects, and the native plant communities that support them.

Her first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, was published in 2014, and her second book, Bees, published in 2017, has won six book awards including the 2018 American Horticultural Society Book Award. Her latest book, Wasps, was published in February 2021. Heather’s expertise includes the interactions between native pollinators and native plants, and the natural history and biology of native bees and predatory wasps occurring in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

Heather's outstanding, award-winning books are available for purchase online at Pollinator Press.


Birds, Bees and Butterflies: A Native Garden Tour

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Saturday, July 24th, 2021
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Near West Suburbs of Chicago, PO Box 1148, Oak Park, IL, 60304 Map

Celebrate the Year of the Butterfly -
Tour 8 Lively Native Gardens July 24!

Buy Tickets at Eventbrite
We are back to an in-person event in 2021! Join us for a tour of lovely, color-filled gardens in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and Berwyn during our Birds, Bees & Butterflies Native Garden Tour July 24, 2021 from 1 to 5 p.m.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: We’re celebrating the Year of the Butterfly! Meet eight passionate and knowledgeable home gardeners who have been experimenting with and observing butterfly habitat and native plants for many years. They’ll give you guided overviews of their gardens and answer your specific questions about native gardening, as well as sustainable landscaping, edible gardening, D-I-Y-ing it vs. hiring designers, and urban homesteading, complete with chicken coops. Whether you’re a beginning gardener or have more soil between your toes than you care to reveal, you’ll walk away with practical, hands-on information and tips you can apply to your own yard.

COST: This program is $10 for West Cook Wild Ones members and $15 for non-members. Kids attend for free! Purchase your tickets here: Tickets. Become a member : Join here.

TOUR MAP: Ticket holders will receive a tour map two days before the event. We recommend biking or driving; the locations are spread among four nearby communities this year.

COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES: Each garden will have a separate entrance and exit, to encourage social distancing.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT! The Year of the Butterfly is a local effort to bring awareness about how to support healthy habitat for butterflies and other pollinators. This tour is one of dozens of activities happening this summer in and around the Village of Oak Park, Illinois. At this tour, you’ll also learn about our fall native tree and shrub sale, where you can purchase butterfly-supporting plants at affordable prices. Finally, join our West Cook Wildlife Corridor: More than 800 gardeners in the near-west suburbs have pledged to grow native plants in support of it. You can, too! Growing native plants is a rewarding family activity. Learn about and help nurture the plants and animals that have lived here for thousands of years.

VOLUNTEER WITH US: You’ll receive a free tour ticket. Native Garden Tour Volunteer Sign-up.

BENEFITS OF NATIVE GARDENING: Discover how affordable, beautiful, and exciting gardening with native plants can be! Native gardens are high-performance, lower-maintenance gardens that bring huge benefits to a home landscape: they eliminate the need for poisonous pesticides or expensive commercial fertilizers, reduce home energy consumption, help reduce flooding after storms, and decrease the need for sprinklers and other outdoor water use. In addition, growing a large native garden is a powerful way to combat climate change by helping capture carbon dioxide from the air and storing it in your soil. And perhaps most importantly, by growing native plants, you can provide essential habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and threatened pollinators. Habitat loss is among the primary factors driving population declines of important local and migratory species. Every additional native plant garden, no matter how small, can help preserve this biodiversity.

PRESENTERS: West Cook Wild Ones and the Interfaith Green Network are proud to present this in-person garden tour.

August 2021


Soil: It Is Not Dirt!

This event has ended
Sunday, August 15th, 2021
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Please join us for our August presentation
"Soil: It Is Not Dirt!"
Sunday, August 15, 2021
2:30-4:30 pm CT

Dwayne Anderson, University of Illinois Master Gardener, and Gemini Bhalsod, Educator for University of Illinois Master Gardener Program, will discuss the importance of soil health for ecosystems and native plant gardens.

You will learn about soil components, soil inhabitants and why soil should be viewed as a living system. The speakers will explain the soil food web and two key cycles for dynamic, living soil: the carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle. They will examine factors required for good soil health and discuss practices you can use to maintain and improve your soil for the benefit of your native plantings.

This Zoom presentation is free to the public. Registrants will receive a Zoom link via e-mail two days before the presentation. Register here: Eventbrite


Dwayne Anderson grew up on a small Great Plains farm where he developed a love for the natural world. When approaching retirement from a career in federal service, he became a Master Gardener with the University of Illinois Extension Service. Dwayne's Master Gardener work focuses on soil management and vegetable gardening. He volunteers intensively with local school and community gardens to educate others and help provide fresh produce to cafeterias and farmer's markets. Dwayne's soil management practices include minimal tilling, crop rotation, cover crops and organic material replenishment.

Gemini Bhalsod is a Cook County Horticulture Educator with the University of Illinois Extension Service. Gemini educates youths and adults on plants, gardening and environmental stewardship. She leads and trains Northern Cook County Suburban Master Gardeners who educate the community on high-quality, researched-based horticulture information from composting to native plants.

Gemini holds a Masters’ Degree in Crop and Soil Science and a Bachelors’ Degree in Plant and Environmental Biology with a specialization in Science, Technology, and Environmental Public Policy from Michigan State.

Her professional affiliations include the American Horticultural Society, the American Society of Horticultural Science and the Environmentalists of Color Network.

September 2021


Creating Butterfly Habitat: Through the Seasons

This event has ended
Sunday, September 19th, 2021
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Please join us for
"Creating Butterfly Habitats: Through the Seasons"
with Stephanie Walquist
Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 2:30 pm CT.

Celebrate Year of the Butterfly: Learn how to provide year-round habitat for our local butterflies in your garden! 

Butterflies add extra beauty and interest to the garden. They are not only beautiful but incredibly fascinating and complex animals.

From this presentation, the general gardener will learn how to create habitat gardens for some of the area's butterflies who need year-round homes to complete their life cycles. Participants will not only learn the basic requirements and essential practices for butterfly gardens, they will also learn about the diversity of local butterfly species, some species-specific behaviors, and how they complete their life cycles.

There will be a particular focus on the impact fall and spring-clean up can have on these garden inhabitants. Stephanie will share strategies she uses that balances their survival with the need for gardens to look cared for.

Registration for this event is free. Registrants will receive a Zoom link two days (9/17) and 2 hours (9/19) before the presentation begins. Register here: Eventbrite

Presenter Bio

Stephanie Walquist has been gardening for and observing butterflies for over 15 years. She has raised multiple species of butterflies which has given her a depth of understanding that goes beyond watching the adults in the garden. Her interest in butterflies naturally brought her into the world of native plants, which led her to co-founding the West Cook chapter of Wild Ones.

October 2021


October Membership Meeting: How Did Your Garden Grow?

This event has ended
Sunday, October 17th, 2021
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Whatever your experience level, from new to expert native gardener, we hope you will share your garden tales with our community!

We plan an informal meeting to connect with each other as well as chat about native plants and our gardens. The session will be interactive and hopefully brimming with your photos.

To help the meeting run smoothly, we ask that you please add your slides to a shared Google file so we can present them at the meeting. Please click here to add photos: October 2021 Garden Chat Photos. We will organize the photos into groups, share the photos over Zoom and invite you to talk about the photos! Here are some ideas for categories that are already in the slides file: Rain Gardens, Shade Gardens, Sunny Gardens, Favorite Native Plant(s!), and Cool or Uncool Insects. If you need help adding your photo to the shared file, please email us and we can load the photos for you.

Please note though that if you want to come only to look and listen that is great too!

Please be sure to register for your free ticket via Eventbrite. Registration is required for this event.

This meeting will be held ONLINE via Zoom. You will receive a link to attend and participate 2 days before the meeting.

Not a member but would like to join in the fun? Go here and join Wild Ones: Join

November 2021


Wild City, Human Ecosystem: Wolf Road Prairie, Westchester, Illinois

This event has ended
Sunday, November 21st, 2021
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Public Welcome Will be Recorded Program/Speaker Presentation

  Please join us as Wyatt Widmer, steward of Wolf Road Prairie, discusses the ecosystem of the prairie.





Wyatt will teach us about its biodiverse species and will explore how the prairie and humans can exist together as mutually beneficial parts of the ecosystem.

Please be sure to register for your free ticket on Eventbrite. Registration is required for this event.

This meeting will be held ONLINE via Zoom. You will receive a link to attend and participate 2 days before the meeting.