Monday Memories

It’s time again for the Monday Memories Post! AKA ~ Ilex buys a day of blogging by repeating old ones…

It’s Time to Hunt For Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard can be found growing almost anywhere, but prefers a shady location. Procuring this herb is as easy as traveling to your nearest forest preserve. Removing native plants from protected parks is illegal, but because of garlic mustard’s invasive status, most parks will encourage you to take all you’d like.

Spring rain has made the ground soft which helps with removal of garlic mustard’s tap root. This root only goes down for about an inch, then takes an abrupt turn. When you pull slowly, you can feel which way the root goes and pull accordingly. If all of it is not removed, it will grow back like a dandelion. It will also start blooming in our area soon, making it easier to find.


Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper on the beach of Lake Michigan

Camping at Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach – State Park

This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650+ different plant species. Long recognized for its unique geological features, native flora and unmatched beauty, the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the “Three Fires” of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa.

This area was slated to be a preserve as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman, and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect (If you live/visit Chicago, you’ve seen a lot of his work), worked together to make the area a regional park. With industry progressing from the south, sand mining ravaging the dunes and parts of the surrounding rural area succumbing to pasture and homesteads, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in the 1920s.


Opuntia – Prickly pear – The fruit is edible.

In 1948, the state obtained the first parcels of what is now known as Illinois Beach State Park. The Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established in 1950 to protect the area. Through its efforts and the determinations of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve.

This area is unique, as it is a sand dune area, and the rest of Illinois is nothing like it. I was on the hunt for Opuntia – Prickly pear & Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper, both of these are native to this area. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark noted that trailing juniper “would make a handsome edging to the borders of a garden”

Use Landscaping to Save on Energy Bills

Landscaping can significantly reduce the costs of heating and cooling the home. Scan_Pic0002Some well-placed shade trees, evergreens and shrubs not only look great, but also keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Not much solar energy enters our homes through the walls and roof  because of the insulation. Sun shining through the windows accounts for about half of the unwanted heat in a house during the summer. Twice as much solar energy enters through the east and west windows as the south windows, particularly if there is a roof overhang on the south side of Scan_Pic0001the house.

The sun and wind both affect the temperature of residences in winter. A substantial amount of warmth can be gained from the sun shining through a southern facing window in the winter when the sun is low in the sky. East and west windows can also provide solar energy gain in the winter. The solar energy from the windows may provide 4-18% of the total energy needed to heat the home. Although, escaping warm air, along with cold wind penetrating a home, increase the heating costs and account for 24-39% of the heating requirements.

Pixel or Paper? Is Electronic Media More Environmental?

go-greenImplied is the assumption that going digital is better for the environment. However, the paper industry argues this. They are pushing companies to remove these claims, which they says are misleading consumers and are not substantiated by adequate research.

The non-profit, Two Sides, an organization representing the paper and print industry, recently published a press release that it has convinced many major U.S. companies to remove their “anti-paper” green claims promoting e-billing as more environmentally friendly than paper.

“The goal is to put an end to unsubstantiated and misleading claims that electronic communications are more environmentally friendly than print and paper.” Riebel said.

Although, Two Sides has a stake in preserving the paper industry, the organization’s movement does raise an important question: Is going paperless really better for the environment?

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

31 thoughts on “Monday Memories

  1. I love prickly pears… and I had the worst night of my life as I peeled the fruits without gloves…. we collected the fruits while we were on holiday and we used Marks t-shirt to keep them, because we had no bag. After we got a bag he put his t-shirt on… and that was probably an epic fail… the name means what it says :o(


  2. You always have so much information I need!
    Garlic Mustard? Is this a plant I will find in Texas?
    Something to think about….paperless? I realized when I was in Ontario last summer the saw mill that had operated below the international bridge had shut down. Save trees….lose jobs?? Is there a way to save both??


  3. Prickly pear cactus is sold in my local HEB grocery. PP are full of good vitamins and make a tasty dish with eggs and some meat. There’s plenty in the countryside in these “here parts” if you ever can’t find any. Of course I’m joking and know that no one in their right mind would drive south to get PP.

    Anyhoo, so much for that. You provided some good environmental ed in this post. Perhaps some folks will take heed.

    Last but not least. What do you do with garlic mustard? For salads or cooked as greens as something else?


    • I like the PP fruits, but have never tried a PP ‘steak’ 😉 I’ll have to give that a try.
      I do have some recipes in the original post. It’s great as part of a salad, a pesto sauce, season spaghetti sauce, stuffed garlic leaves… It’s a great exchange for spinach or garlic in a recipe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. You can’t miss the garlic smell. Rip a leaf and it will be obvious. Best to learn to ID it with the flowers, which will bloom very soon. After that, you’ll be able to see their little mounds from a distance.
      Many of our forest preserves are having garlic mustard hunts in the next few weeks to get it before it blooms. Believe me, if a DNR person asks you what you’re doing, say you’re picking garlic mustard and they will leave you to your business.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Excellent – I will check out at my parents’ house while we are morel hunting in a couple weeks. I’m sure I’ll find some while I’m out there.

        Does it go bad after it blooms?

        Sarah (and Choppy) –
        < a href=””>Travels with Choppy


        • Nope! Tastes the same all year long. Sometimes it can be semi evergreen in a protected location. You can score some fresh leaves in December!
          Good luck on the morels! I’ll be looking for these soon also. Did you know they prefer oak roots to grow under? Sometimes that helps to locate them.
          The garlic mustard might taste great with them! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • I actually don’t eat morels (I have a thing about mushroom texture – love the flavor of mushrooms, but eating an actual mushroom? No thanks) – I am actually thinking I would like to try the garlic mustard leaves as a wrap. The Greek in me is all about wrapping food in leaves!

            And I will keep the oak roots tip in mind – I tend toward the last few elms my parents have, as they seem to like those as well. But they have a fair number of oaks on their property. I actually already have a pair of them in mind to explore. (As you can see, just because I don’t eat morels doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the hunt – it benefits my family and friends greatly!).


  4. I worked with an eco-broker when planning my home. He recommended lots with deciduous trees by the south-facing windows, warmer in winter from sunlight, cooler in summer when the trees have leaves. He negotiated better insulation, formaldehyde free lumber, and no-VOC paint as well.
    Love the photos of flowers. Spring is shaping up well.


  5. I certainly appreciate that you share such a range of information! I learn things here that I don’t know I want to know. 😉 It’s kind of crazy to go back to a time when protected areas didn’t exist. they’re such an every day part of our lives now. Thanks for the throwback. 🙂


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