Two Bur Oaks and a Crawdad

A group of swamp white oaks Healthy soil is important, but for whom?  In the Garden  The young bur oak would not be kept down. Yet again it revealed itself among the standing dead stalks of a large patch of purple bee balm, a good three feet tall and leafing out. In spring, a bur oak’s leaves look like sharp-edged, glossy cutouts. They are not green, but shade delicately among soft corals, tans and pinks. The green comes a bit later, like a slow-motion wave gently pervading each leathery leaf. The question, as it had been for several years, was what to do with this young newcomer to the garden.  About ten feet away and across the walk from house to garage stands a second bur oak that I’d started from an acorn some twelve years ago. I’ve enjoyed watching it grow its first sets of true leaves, become large enough to attract birds and then mature enough to bear acorns. This winter I limbed it up three feet from the ground, mainly to give the sedges and wild geraniums growing underneath a

Cook County Forest Preserve Stewards Mini-Conference


On Saturday, I attended a stewards' mini-conference at Cook County Forest Preserve headquarters. This is a beautiful old arts and crafts-style buildng on Harlem Ave. just north of Lake in River Forest. I had been invited by Victor and Jean Guarino, the stewards of Thatcher Woods (along the Des Plaines River), with whom I've worked for years, chopping buckthorn, pulling garlic mustard, and celebrating the beauties of our riparian woodland/prairie/savanna landscape.

The room was full of casually-dressed people, most of whom looked like they spend much time out of doors in all weathers. I favor gatherings at which the preferred attire includes hiking shoes and the conversation centers around bird monitoring, conservative plant species, and burn regimins. This one met my expectations; my working group discussed the pros and cons of photo vs. transect monitoring, and how to access information from various monitoring groups such as Audobon and the Habitat Project for use in restoration activities.

I came away newly impressed by the level of dedication and commitment that the stewards display in their volunteer work of managing the wild areas of the Chicago Wilderness region, especially in the face of all the environmental threats we suffer, from global warming to over-development.

We gardeners can learn a great deal from these dedicated folks who put the health of our eco-system and all its creatures ahead of so much else. We can look at our gardens with new eyes, and ask ourselves how best to knit our backyards back into the ecosystem, and by doing so, help repair and nurture the health of the land.

Comments

Dave Coulter said…
Sounds like a day well spent!
It was very informative.