As the days get warmer, I start dreaming about a summer vacation. Often, my family will pack up and set off in our pop-up camper to stay a few nights in one of our national or state parks. The natural places in our country hold so much beauty! This year we probably won’t be heading out (maybe next year?) but that’s OK, because I’m working on making my own little park — right in my backyard!
We can’t bring mountains or oceans to Illinois, but we can use our personal spaces to house some of the things that make Illinois beautiful. Have a sunny spot? Try making your own micro-prairie! You may not have space for a huge tall-grass prairie, but there are quite a few native prairie plants that can do the job in a suburban yard: Black-eyed susan(Rudbeckia hirta), Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Coreopsis (Coreopsis leavenworthii), Blazing Star (Liatris), Butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa), or Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) to name a few.
Does your “personal park” need to stay in pots on a patio? That’s OK too! Try Wild blue phlox (phlox divaricata), swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata), turtlehead (chelone), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), or even some of our native ferns.
Your little state park will attract our Illinois butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds… And you’ll have access to it whenever you like!