Tag Archive | illinois

Enjoying the Climate Roller Coaster!

This is kinda crazy weather for February in the Midwest. In my experience, when Mother Nature teases us with a week like this in the middle of winter… She will generally rain down a hellion’s dose of rag-ass on us during April – May. I know. Just try to schedule outdoor construction for a living!=-O
Granted, things have started early and hung on to transition right into summer. It was as recent as 2012, when I had lilacs blooming on April 13, instead of the average time of late May.

I hope that we have another 2012, I’m ready for it =-)

Oranges in December


I just looked in the mirror
And things aren’t looking so good
I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota, oh yeah….

Outshined by Soundgarden

It’s been a long winter, however not as bad as others. Global warming had our average temperature at 32F/0C for most of January. Usually February is pretty cold… Let’s hope not =-)

Have a wonderful Monday!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Real Snow

Breck loves snowballs!!

Although we had our first little frosting last November 19, we had some real snow yesterday! It was still snowing while I was writing this! I hope you’re enjoying these photos, Scifihammy!!

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It was fun watching the birds land on this and spin… Not so ‘Wheee’.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus

imageEastern American toads can easily be identified by their dry rough skin and large bumps behind their eyes called paratoid glands. Size can range from about 2” – 3” (5-8 cm) on average, but can get as large as 5” (13 cm)

‘Merican toads can be sporting colors from yellow to brown to black, from solid colors to speckled, many times they have dark circles around the bumps on their back. Toads have thick skin that traps in body fluids better than most amphibians, which allows them to live farther away from water.

Toads live in a wide variety of habitats ranging from prairies to wetlands to forests. They are somewhat adapted to urban settings where they occasionally shack-up in gardens and parks. They really like my front perennial garden. I leave broken, overturned pots for them to hideout in.

A toad’s call can last up to 30 seconds and each male has a slightly different pitch. Can you hold a note for 30 seconds? Exactly, that’s a pretty amazing thing.

Toads don’t have to worry much about getting eaten as toxic skin secretions are distasteful to predators. And no, the toxins do not cause warts in humans.

They are a beneficial species in garden by eating many insect pests. A average-sized toad will eat about 3,300 insects in a season. I find many toads near my outside lights (like the one above)… They’re not dumb!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

“Prairie Week” (September 18th – 24th) in Illinois

wp-1468781049081.jpgLet’s keep Illinois “The Prairie State

In the advent of the Green Movement, it’s surprising there’s confusion on what “Prairie Restoration” is. Some say, “Eh, just leave it be, it’ll go back…” Sadly, it won’t.

When the settlers first arrived in the Illinois area, the amount of grasslands or “seas of grass” stunned them. European settlers felt the need to tame the land and develop it for their needs. They plowed the prairie for their crops, cultivated plants from their homeland and suppressed the life giving fires once started by the local Native American Indians. Again, the natural lands were altered to suit the needs of man.

Many years have past since the first European pioneer ventured their way to the Midwest, however the influences of this invasion have lived on. Many of the areas that the general public sees, i.e. rights-of-way, unused farmland and even some forest preserves are almost void of native species. The Queen Anne’s lace, chicory, and phragmites are commonly thought of as natives, but are not. Most of these imported plants have become dominant in the landscape, with some plants turning downright invasive. This is the basic reasoning that if area’s were left to go “back to nature” they would not, as nature has been altered by man. Since the prairies were once disrupted by humans, if would be fair to say we would need the help of humans to return it to the way it was.

The transformation of a prairie has more importance than to just return the area to native plants. By returning an environment to its former, native state, an ecosystem is developed and many of the native biota (plants, animals, and microorganisms) can flourish. Once you’ve returned the land to its native balance, the magic begins. “Build it, and they will come”, also applies to restoration. Native species of insects, amphibians and birds will try to return and populate the newly found Eden.wp-1468781051672.jpg

There are many other uses for a prairie other than general aesthetics and the activities we enjoy at our local forest preserves. Prairie and native grasses clean the polluted air of toxins, but also from the soil itself. Aside from reducing erosion, native species can diminish the amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen in the soil. This in turn would decrease problems associated with fertilizers entering water systems.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of a prairie restoration sometimes isn’t the prairie itself. Volunteers, people who get nothing but pride out of a dirty, hard day of labor, conduct most restorations.

Area’s left to fend for themselves will become ravaged by invasive, non-native plant species, driving out the native insects, birds, and animals without the help of humanity. Let us continue to be able to celebrate “Prairie Week” (September 18th – 24st) in Illinois by nurturing our prairies and grasslands. It’s not called “The Prairie State” for nothing!

Get out there and enjoy  prairie near youuuuuuu!

Summer Blooming Flowers 9-8-2016

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. Evelyn Waugh

Don’t be bored… see what I found blooming in 201320142015

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Eupatorium perfoliatum ~ Common boneset   ||  Persicaria lapathifolia ~ Nodding Smartweed


Apios americana ~ Groundnut

Tubers are more nutritious than potatoes and the seeds are edible also.

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Impatiens capensis ~ orange jewelweed, common jewelweed, spotted jewelweed, spotted touch-me-not, or orange balsam

The grass only has one name Panicum virgatum ‘Hot Rod’ ~ Switch grass

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Erigeron philadelphicus ~ Philadelphia Fleabane   ||   This bee was resting…. I petted him! He woke up & flew away.

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Silphium perfoliatum ~ Cup plant     ||   Unknown weed


hibiscus moscheutos ‘Midnight Marvel’ I just planted two of these in my front yard. Love the leaf color.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Pearl Crescent ~ Phyciodes tharos

The Pearl Crescent is a very common butterfly in the eastern United States. It is also one of the hardest butterflies to identify with certainty, because of two very similar looking cousins, the Northern and Tawny Crescents. I’m hoping I picked the right one with this ID 😉

They love to inhabit woodland edges, roadsides, and open fields. I saw this one at Illinois State Beach.

They usually have two broods a season. The first occurs from early May through early July, with the second brood occurring in August through mid September.

Caterpillars like to eat species of smooth-leaved true asters.
Nectar from a many of flowers feed the adults including shepherd’s needle, dogbane, swamp milkweeds, asters and winter cress.

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This one was enjoying some clover.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-10-2016

I have seen a flower blooming in beauty in a secluded vale, and, ere I had a chance to look again, a chilly breath of air had scattered its petals and left it a ruin. ~ Charles Lanman, “Musings,” 1840

You don’t have to search a secluded vale to what I found blooming in 201320142015


Echinacea ~ Coneflower (look familiar? See above!)

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Campsis radicans ~ Trumpet Vine   ||   Hemerocallis fulva ~ Ditch lilies or Tiger lilies


Maclura pomifera ~ Osage orange

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Silphium perfoliatum ~ Cup plant   ||   Liatris spicata ‘Floristan White’ & ‘Floristan Violet’

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Lobelia cardinalis ~ Cardinal flowers   ||   Nepeta


Hibiscus syriacus ~ Rose of Sharon, althea or hardy hibiscus.

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We had a bit of rain recently. We rarely see our ditch filled, so of course I had to photograph it!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Blooming Flowers 8-8-2016

Today is my hubby’s birthday!! Happy Birthday Honey!!pig roast

Ah, another fine year to celebrate. We’ll be having the pig roast party Saturday. Mmmmm. Bacon bread! What’s bacon bread, you ask? Well, we cook the pig above ground on a spit, opposed to the Hawaiian method of burying it in the ground with coals on top.  After the skin gets a bit crispy (thus ‘safe’ to eat) we take crusty bread and pat the pig with it. The bacon fat, mixed with the copious amounts of garlic and salt my hubby prepared the pig with flavors the bread like bacon. Oh my, I totally look like Homer over there!! You’re all invited! Email me for the address =-)

“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.”  ― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

Face  what I found blooming in 201320142015


When you have flowers in your yard, you’re always ready to deliver a bouquet to a neighbor.

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Hosta   ||   Asclepias incarnata ~ Milkweed

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Look! Two bumble bees!!   ||   Hypericum perforatum ~ St. John’s Wort

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Potentilla fruticosa ~ Shrubby Cinquefoil   ||  Hmmm.

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Not sure    ||   Rudbeckia triloba  ~ Brown-eyed Susan


Asparagus!!!! All grown-up


Phemeranthus rugospermus ~ Rough-seeded Fameflower

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl