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If only a picture could convey the intense fragrance of a wild rose—this one is Rosa setigera, Illinois Rose

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Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans) glows in the springtime shade

A Rain Garden at Work

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A pipe conveys downspout water via an underground pipe into this front yard rain garden…


That spring, the garden captured heavy rainfall

We love our front yard garden landscaping—three years after the initial planting it has flourished and is always beautiful!
— Mark L.


Black swallowtail nectaring on common milkweed (Asclepius syriaca)

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A tranquil woodland scene, where blooming Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptant) supports spring pollinators

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The brilliant orange of butterfly milkweed (Asclepius tuberosa) echoes the orange cone of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Smoke on the Prairie

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The buds of the diminutive prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) begin to open, and a few weeks later, the styles elongate and they’re “a-smokin’!”


Who says city parkways have to be boring?

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I’m happy every time I see our parkway when I walk up to our house.
— Mary S.
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Planting a native garden in the parkway brightens up your entire street and welcomes you home.

We especially like the ‘seasonality’ of the plants - there is something new popping up every season. The butterflies love it!
— Paul K.

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The Thing About Native Plants…

The region’s native plants evolved over millennia, once covering prairies, woodlands, savannas, marshes, beaches, and other habitats. They thrive on diverse soils, in varied light situations, on slopes and flatland, and in every moisture gradient. There is a suite of natives for every modern landscape. Native plants are champions at flood control, drought resistance, carbon sequestration, and thriving without chemical input. They’ve been doing all that for thousands of years!

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We asked our customers to send us photos from their gardens. We wish we could post them all!

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Monarch on lead plant—one of a very few true prairie shrubs. Thank you, Diane J., for snapping and sharing this image.

Thank you to everyone who shared images: Donna B., Nick D., Scott E., Diane J., Paul F., Mark L., and Mary S. Through these photos, we sense your delight!

Honoring the botanical heritage of our region

Each native Red Stem garden provides shelter, food, and breeding space to wildlife while celebrating the beauty of our native plants. While a garden can never have the species diversity of a true native remnant* that has never been grazed or plowed, we hope to honor the character of our region, using only native plants and drawing inspiration from the prairies, wetlands, woodlands and other habitats that once graced the region.

*Though extremely rare, native remnants exist in many places in and around Chicago—some tiny and others many acres—but they now must be protected and carefully managed to keep them from becoming overrun by invasive species and suffering other indignities. These preserved remnants represent an irreplaceable treasure. There are butterfly and other insect species, for example, that cannot exist anywhere else, as well as microorganisms and countless relationships between floral and faunal organisms, many of which we have yet to understand or even name.

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