Chain O’ Lakes State Park – Fox River Kayak Trip

We decided to camp a mere 14 miles from home last weekend. Funnier still is we’ve not came here to hike or kayak either. Sometimes the best places are right in your backyard!!

image

The Chain O’ Lakes State Park, is located in northeast Illinois in both McHenry and Lake counties and became a state park in 1945 when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O’Lakes Conservation Area, and was incorporated into the state park in 1957.

The Chain O’Lakes is located in northeast Illinois and is made up of 15 lakes joined by the Fox River and man-made channels. The collection of lakes is 7,100 acres (29 km2) of water, 488 miles (785 km) of shoreline and 45 miles (72 km) of river. “The Chain is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States…” states the Fox Waterway Agency.

image

Fox River

The Chain O’Lakes were formed when the Wisconsin glacier melted. The land of Chain O’Lakes State Park is primarily freshwater bog over deep peat layers. No worries drowning here… just stand up!! The river bluff slopes softly to the moraines that rise about 200 feet. Chain O’Lakes has a mixture of oak and hickory near the waterway, then going inland; cherry, elm, birch, sumac and spruce, plus some scattered pine stands.

image

If you zoom into this photo, you may be able to see the swallow type birds (maybe a purple martin?) that were catching fish and dragonflies.

image

Time to relax, crack a beer…

image

Sloooowly creeping up on the  American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea). I didn’t want to damage any of the two foot wide lily pads. I was using my hands to paddle up to it.

The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian, Miami, Mascouten and Potawatomi tribes, then during the 1880’s, Europeans started settling in. Later, in 1901, the train came to the area from Chicago, which opened up the area to tourism. Historically, Grass Lake was once almost entirely covered with American lotus each summer, which brought in boatloads of tourists.The area is also legendary for its hosting of 1920’s prohibition gangsters, including the infamous Al Capone, who owned a cottage on Bluff Lake near Antioch.

image

There was a very large stand of them.

image
Nymphaea odorata  ~ Fragrant Water Lily

I wish I had known they were smelly, I would have stuck my nose in it!!

image

We weren’t sure what type of insect this was, possibly a robber fly?

image

If you squint really hard there is a kildeer bird and a sand piper in there. Gesh, maybe I could use a real camera with a zoom lens…

image

imageimage

imageimage

Two hundred acres of restored native prairie provide nesting habitat for grassland bird species. A check-list of the nearly 200 birds that have been identified in the park is available at the park office. Other wildlife that call the Chain home: white-tailed deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, mink, opossum, skunks, raccoons, gophers, foxes, badgers, beaver, coyotes and groundhogs.

image

We finally got to a great little bar that had wonderful, refreshing margaritas!! AND a Clean potty =-)

image

Chimney swifts build their mud nests under route 173.

image

Pretty dragonfly.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Meadow Fritillary – Boloria bellona

wpid-2015-07-05-13.29.56.jpg.jpegFemale meadow fritillary butterflies lay her eggs on violet species (viola), the preferred larval food of the species.
Adult favorite nectar sources are composite flowers, including black-eyed Susan’s, dandelions, and ox-eyed daisy. Plants from other families, such as verbena and dogbane, are visited in a pinch.
These beauties like to live in wet places like marshes and wet aspen groves.

 

Iimagen the Appalachian mountains of the United States, fritillary butterflies in particular are numerous. If you are able to correctly count the spots on a fritillary’s wings, that tells you how much money is coming your way.

An American Indian Legend

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first
capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.
Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly cannot reveal
the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all.
In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly freedom,
the Great Spirit will always grant the wish.
So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom,
the wish will be taken to the heavens to be granted.

This is where the tradition of butterfly releases at weddings and other celebrations.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-30-2015

Happy day everyone!!

Click to see what was blooming in 2013 or blooming in 2014.
image

Allium ‘Millenium’ ~ Ornamental onion

image

Phlox paniculata ‘Bright eyes’ ~ Garden phlox

image

Pinus parviflora ~ Japanese white pine

image

Astilbe arendsii ~ False Spirea

image

Rhus typhina ‘Tigereye’ or ‘Bailtiger’~ Tiger eye sumac

image

A very beautiful shrub that is underused in the landscape.

image

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bulk’ or ‘Quickfire’

image

Coreopsis verticullata ~ Tickseed

image

Geranium sanguineum ~ Cranesbill

image

Nepeta faassenii ~ Catmint

image

Phlox panicuata ‘David’ ~ Garden phlox

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Chlorosis

wpid-20150720_162838.jpg

Silver maple ~ Note the dark green veins and the bright, limey balance of the leaf.

Chlorosis is starting to rear it’s ugly head on a number of plants in the Midwest. Chlorosis is a yellowing of the leaf due to low levels of chlorophyll (the green pigment in leaves). It starts by leaf tissue appearing paler green; however the veins of the leaf stay green. Leaf tissue progressively turns yellow, and may turn white in advanced cases. Leaf margins may develop a scorched look with symmetrical brown spots between veins. Trees that commonly show chlorosis include:

Pin, Red and White oak ~ Quercus varieties

Red and silver maples ~ Acer rubra or Acer saccharinum

River birch ~ Betula nigra

Tulip-tree ~ Liriodendron tulipifera

Sweet gum ~ Liquidambar styraciflua

Bald cypress ~ Taxodium distichum

White pine ~ Pinus strobes

Magnolia

 

 

There are many causes of chlorosis. The most common cause of chlorosis in the Midwest is due to iron and manganese deficiencies resulting from alkaline soils. High soil pH causes iron and manganese that is present in the soil to become unavailable to the plant.

Where soils are alkaline, avoid planting trees that do not tolerate alkaline soils. For existing trees, fertilize soil with a nitrogen and sulfur-based fertilizer from early spring through mid-May, use chelated iron which is not affected by soil pH (this is best used in spring), or have the tree injected with iron or manganese.

Anything that negatively impacts the root system (physical damage, flooded soils and dry soils) can also lead to chlorosis. The abundant rains this year are starting to affect the ability of roots to take up nutrients, so a treatment of iron to the soil may not work in all cases. The best management practices is in dry seasons, be sure to provide enough moisture to plants and when the season is wet, there is not much to do but wait for drier weather.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-28-2015

Good day everyone!!

Click to see what was blooming in 2013 or blooming in 2014.

image

Cephalanthus occidentalis ~ Buttonbush

I feel these are underused in the landscape. Likes moist soil and partly sunny skies.

image

Lobelia cardinalis  ~ cardinal flower

image

I should know this. It was in client’s rain garden.

image

I’m going to guess this is a weed of some sort. I can’t find it in my wildflower keys. I don’t have any weed keys!!

image

Plantago major ~ broadleaf plantain or greater plantain

image

Portulaca oleracea ~ purslane  This is in my annual pot. love all the pollinators it attracts.

image

image

Campanula rapunculoides ~ creeping bellflower or rampion bellflower

image

Phlox subulata ‘Millstream Daphne’

image

Hosta!

 

image

Rudbeckia fugida ‘Goldstrum’ ~ Black Eyed Susan’s

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta

imageimageThe Red Admiral butterfly’s irregular flight pattern may have started the nickname ‘flutter-by’s’.

Males like to perch high in plants waiting for a female to lay eggs on the preferred host plants.
Red Admiral catapillars like plants in the nettle family: (Urticaceae) including stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), tall wild nettle (Urtica gracilis), wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), pellitory (Parietoria pennsylvanica), mamaki (Pipturus albidus).

Adult Red Admirals prefer sap found on trees, fermenting fruit, and bird droppings! Yuk!! They only visit flowers (milkweed, red clover, aster, and alfalfa) when the former are not available.
Most Red Admirals can be found in most places in North America; however they prefer a moister area to dry.

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Brownie House Garden

My husband built a Brownie House a few months ago, hoping to attract a nice family of Brownies to help us fix the many broken items we have at our home.
imagewpid-20150701_122637.jpgBrownies are flightless fairy folk, similar to a hobgoblin, who love to fix things that are broken and improving them where possible. They do not like to be seen and will only work at night, traditionally in exchange for small gifts of food. Among food, they especially enjoy porridge and honey. Also, when ingredients are left out, they will bake something delicious, although they always attempt to make it into a dessert. I must have been a Brownie in a past life….

The Brownies that moved in didn’t seem to like the front walk and re-laid it more to their liking. I wanted their home to be a lovely retreat to enjoy during the day while they were resting from all the hard work they put into our broken items at night. I thought the flowers were a great touch. The Brownies must have agreed, as they added shiny glass gazing balls to their yard.

wpid-20150701_122821.jpgwpid-20150701_122510.jpg

image

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Civil War Days

wpid-20150711_125015.jpgThere has been a lot of controversy over the Confederate flag being flown over some of the southern states. They are starting to come off the poles like drunk strippers. Personally, I don’t understand the big deal. The flag didn’t stand for slavery, it stood for a democracy and a way of life. It’s our history, like it or not.

Having lived in Florida for a spell, I understand what it means to be Southern. No one is in a hurry, always use your best manners, respect your elders and God. What’s not to love? I did enjoy my time having doors opened for me and being called ma’am.

There was a Civil War reenactment going on at a nearby forest preserve. It was very interesting to see how little the Confederates lived on compared to the Union soldiers.

CONFEDERATE CAMP:

They were lucky to have a table with them. Many just used the ground.
image

image

An old surveying device.

image

Fires were burning all day for hot water and to make a cornbread type pancake. No one had flour here for bread. They tended to reuse coffee beans a few times, then chew them. Chicory, a pretty, blue roadside weed has roots that can be boiled for a coffee substitute.

image

Gunsmith ~ The rifle you see in the front was about 40 pounds… If you were good, you could fire it three times a minute.

image

 

imageFour score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

imageFarewell to the Army of Northern Virginia

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles who have remained steadfast to the last that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged.

You may take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection. With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.

by Robert E. Lee

UNION CAMP:

In the Northern camps, things were a bit cushier.image

What a beautiful kitchen area.

image

Blacksmiths

image

Many of these were actually used in the war!

image

Left, left, left-right-left!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 7-22-2015

Happy Hump Day!!
I hope everyone’s week is going well. We’re going camping this weekend.. about 13 miles away from home and only 1 mile from work. Is this a ‘stay-cation’? We haven’t hiked at the area et, however there is supposed to be OSPREY nesting here!! If you are wondering what these majestic birds look like, check out Emily’s blog at Bella Remy Photography for some wonderful photos of them!!

image

Look at those begonias go!

image

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’ or it’s copyrighted name ‘Endless Summer’

image

Hemerocallis ‘Barbara Mitchell’ ~ Daylily

image

Rosa rugosa ‘First Lady’ ~ Shrub rose

image

Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ ~ Smoke bush

image

Such a nice mix! Annabelle hydrangeas and red beebalm. LOVE, Love, Love it!

image

More monarda (Beebalm) and joe pye weed.

image

Sagittaria latifolia is a plant found in shallow wetlands and is sometimes known as broadleaf arrowhead, duck-potato, Indian potato, or wapato. They are edible, and may be boiled or baked and eaten as a potato-like food. Native Americans harvested and consumed these tubers, which in some areas were known as wapato. The tubers are also an important food source for waterfowl, hence the name duck potato.

image

Sparganium eurycarpum ~ Giant bur-reed

image

Sorbaria sorbifolia ~ False spiraea

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

Common Signs of Lawn Fungus Diseases

  • Spots and patches
  • Underdeveloped growth
  • Bleached or light colored turf
  • Shredded or curled grass blades
  • Circular lesions on the blades
  • Dark growth at the base/thatch line

In general, the damage from a fungus will be circular. Correctly identifying the damage is crucial. For if the damage is actually grubs, treating them with fungicide won’t work, duh! Fungi that damage the lawns are parasitic and steal nutrients from grass, which causes it to decline, turn colors or in some cases die. When a fungal spore encounters a host in the right environmental conditions think: pathogen + environment + host =  disease disease Triangle

Common Lawn Fungus Diseases

snow mold

Pink Snow Mold – White to pink fungal growth that feels slimy, favored by abundant moisture.

gray snow mold

Gray Snow Mold – White to gray fungal growth that may form large irregular patches, favored by abundant moisture or snow cover.

yellow patch

Yellow Patch – Circular patches of light tan to brown grass, favored by cool, wet conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

brown spt

Brown Patch – Circular, light brown patches, favored by moist conditions or areas that remain wet.

necrotic spot

Necrotic Patch – Circular yellow patches or tan to brown grass, favored by cool, wet weather.

red thread

Red Thread/Pink Patch – Small, light pink to red patches, favored by cooler weather and moist conditions.

rust

Rust – Small, yellow flecks on leaves, sometimes enlarged to form rust-colored pustules, favored by moderately warm and humid conditions or stressed turf.

dollar spot

Dollar Spot – Circular patches with reddish-brown borders, favored by humidity.

fairy ring

Fairy Ring – Circular patches of dark green, often enlarged into rings, favored by mild temperatures and moisture, and sometimes in dry, hot conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A nitrogen-based fertilizer applied annually (in the fall) supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

Generally, a homeowner doesn’t have many choices in the self-help isle of the Big Depot. You also don’t go to the store until you notice there is a fungus among-us in your lawn. There are many products, however most home-use products will cure most fungi. ALWAYS read the labels thoroughly.

The first thing you must do is to cure or the CURATIVE treatment. Which, in general, is either a stronger mixture, applied more often or both than the PREVENTATIVE. Be aware, you will need to apply this curatively, every 3 weeks, preventatively, every 4-5 weeks.

Organically, I’ve heard of putting corn meal on the lawn. I’ve got no experience using this. Has anyone tried this??

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl