Native Plant Garden

Discover ideas for using native Illinois plants in your home landscape.

The Native Plant Garden displays three distinct areas — a woodland garden with native plants preferring part shade, a prairie garden showcasing sun-loving native prairie plants, and a habitat garden designed to appeal to birds and butterflies.

The woodland garden displays native plants that prefer part shade. Layers of plants with sequential bloom times range from tall trees to tiny wildflowers. Look for shagbark hickory, American hop hornbeam, and swamp white oak. Companion understory shrubs include witch hazel, spicebush, buttonbush, and native raspberry. A few of the perennials and spring ephemerals include wild ginger, Christmas fern, and red and yellow trillium.

The prairie garden was designed with low-growing plants in front and taller ones in back to allow visitors to "look through" the entire community of plants. This open, inviting garden blooms first with shooting star and prairie smoke, followed by short grasses and perennials such as wild indigo, early coreopsis, wild petunia, and little bluestem. Last to bloom are gentian, flowering spurge, butterfly weed, and the tall grasses. The grasses and wildflowers growing here are all suitable plants for backyard naturalistic gardens. The grasses have an added benefit of attracting birds to feast on the mature seedheads in fall.

The habitat garden, complete with birdhouses, feeders, and beautiful statuary, showcases native plants that will encourage birds and butterflies to frequent your yard. In addition to forbs and grasses, many shrubs or vines with berries are also attractive to wildlife. Rose, hawthorn, bittersweet, winterberry, chokeberry, and serviceberry provide welcome food sources and nesting sites for birds.

Throughout, the garden shows off the special beauty of the state's native flora. This garden is an official demonstration site for Chicago Wilderness.