Monday, February 18, 2008

Chicago and Water,It Defines The City

Retreating over 10,000 years ago ice sculpted the land of Chicago during the last glacial period. A continental divide perched at the cities edge flows the watershed either toward
Lake Michigan(One of the five large connecting North American Great Lakes) and ultimately the Atlantic ocean to the east or the Mississippi river west and then on to the gulf coast to the south. A natural waterway central that helped Chicago become the transportation hub that it is today.
Digging canals to connect the larger bodies of water, reversing the flow of the Chicago river to draw sewage away from Lake Michigan and building the locks to control the amount of water leaving Lake Michigan ,even raising the city street level above the marsh like condition of the surrounding land and later with the
Deep Tunnel Works for storm water control,our history revolves around how we direct and utilize the watersways of Chicago.


The prairie and savannas of the midwest were lure to farmers looking for land.The waterways gave them a way to move all they produced.Soon the Chicago Board of Trade was commisioned, originally a not for profit group comprised of the business men themselves. Today four hundred million bushels of grain flow from producer to consumer annually.
The Futures markets here in Chicago are for wheat, corn, oats, rye, barley, provisions, and stocks and bonds. The cotton and securities markets have been added recently. The Chicago Board of Trade's biggest money market have been soybeans and soybean oil, corn, wheat, and silver.

The Stock yards and slaughter houses processed all the animals farmers brought to market.
Stockyard History

Then the industrial revolution brought the steel mills and factories.

The railroad took over, no longer needing the waterways but following the business and millions of people already in place.
And today O'Hare International airport keeps travelers permitting...
the tourist abound.

Places to see...


Chicago Board of Trade/The Mercantile Exchange

Some History


Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Other Prairie spaces to explore

Canal Corridor Driving Tour
Miles of trails ,parks, nature centers.

Explore Wetlands

Calumet Open Space Reserve

The Calumet area wetlands were once one of the largest and most diverse natural wetland complexes in lower North America. Now, approximately 4,800 acres will be managed as the Calumet Open Space Reserve.
The City of Chicago has acquired the 117-acre Van Vlissingen Prairie, two-thirds of the 195-acre Indian Ridge Marsh complex, and is in the process of acquiring 460 acres at Hegewisch and Big Marsh.


A Natural History of the Chicago Region by Joel Greenberg
In A Natural History of the Chicago Region, Joel Greenberg takes readers on a journey that begins in 1673 with Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet—the first Europeans known to have visited the Chicago region—and that we're still on today. This is a fascinating story, told with humor and passion, of forests battling prairies for dominance; of grasslands plowed, wetlands drained, and species driven to extinction in the settlement of the Midwest; and of caring conservationists fighting to preserve and restore the native plants and animals. Intermingling historical anecdotes and episodes straight from the words of early settlers and naturalists with current scientific information, Greenberg places the natural history of the region in a human context, showing how it affects our everyday existence in even the most urbanized landscape of Chicago.

Jodi at Bloomingwriter has a list of all those contributing to the Garden Blogger Geography Project.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day February 15 2008

OK, so there are still no blooms out in the garden. There is life, waiting for the perfect moment to burst forth and grow. Buds everywhere...leaf buds...flower buds...poised...waiting.

To see what is happening in the rest of the Garden Blogger world this mid-February day, check in with our host Carol at May Dreams Garden.

Nanking Cherry blooms in late March/early April.

The Maple tree blooms are even earlier, sometimes as early as late February though probably a bit later this year.

A young Lilac bush will leaf out later in spring.

The Hawthorn lives up to its name.

A male Holly getting ready to produce pollen for the female.

A berry producing female holly.

Light brown winter buds will swell in spring then burst into soft new needle growth of a beautiful silvery blue on this young Blue Spruce.

Stand back a bit and it is still winter.

Grass still holding seeds and

old Oak-leaf hydrangea blooms in the snow and cold will wait for summer and a warmer sun.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Reason To Build A Wood Pile In The Garden

You can read and know that most butterflies do not migrate so must manage to survive some pretty cold and snowy winters somewhere near where you see them each year,but to actually come across an adult butterfly in a state of hibernation really must be a thrill. Tom, a naturalist, field biologist and nature photographer at Allegany State Park has pictures and just such a story to relate at his excellent nature blog.

When temperatures reach - 0°F you don’t expect to find any adult butterflies in your back yard. Ok, here is my story . . . Yesterday I planned on starting a fire in the fireplace to help defray the cost of my gas bill (because temperatures are soo cold). I brought my first load of wood into the house and then returned for my second load! I notice in the white snow something that looked exactly like a butterfly standing up! Naa, it had to be bark right? Nope, with a closer inspection it was an Eastern Comma that fallen out of the woodpile and into the snow!

For pictures and the rest of the story visit

mon@rch nature blog

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pollinator Research LREC

I have been reading these and other reports about the research being conducted on pollinators, trying to determine if there is evidence that backyard habitats provide adaquate corridors of food and nesting or overwintering, for insects moving from one area to another as habitat is futher fractured.

The last in this list of links provided below is of particular interest providing information on pollinators traveling between patches of native plantings.
Three separate areas of eryngium yuccafolium are monitored after dayglow powder is dusted onto inflorescene using a different color (pink,blue or green) on each patch. Insects are collected at intervals over the bloom time.
Any insects having more than one color of Day Glow powder had visited more than one patch of eryngium yuccafolium.

Insects need a lot of energy to travel and will use the closest patches of preferred plant populations. Small pollinators have small foraging ranges and need to nest relatively close to sources. Larger pollinators move over larger distances moving futher away as need arises but using closer patches first.
Since most native pollinators tend to be solitary the smaller patches of plantings available in home gardens can be of use to insects if the home owner is also amiable to providing requirements for nesting and overwintering .
Of course the more gardeners providing these plants the better for pollinators looking for a home.

Litzsinger Road Ecology Center St Louis MO

The Litzsinger Road Ecology Center (LREC) is an established educational site with land and facilities dedicated to promoting science teaching and learning, environmental literacy, and stewardship of the Earth. While located in the heart of the St. Louis metropolitan area, just 10 miles west of downtown St. Louis, this unique 34-acre study center encompasses a rich variety of habitats including bottomland forest, restored prairie, and an urban creek. In addition, classrooms and an on-site computer laboratory offer research and instructional experiences that increase the scope of learning for students and teachers.
The Litzsinger Road Ecology Center is under the management of the Missouri Botanical Garden .

Foraging Ecology of Selected Prairie Wildflowers (Echinacea, Liatris, Monarda, and Veronicastrum) in Missouri Prairie Remnants and Restorations by Richard R. Clinebell II, 1998

Proposed Litzsinger Road Ecology Center Pollinator Survey by Malinda Slagle, 2004

Methodology of Transect Netting versus Use of Sugar Bait for Surveying Butterfly Assemblages in Tall Grass Prairie by John P. Lawler, LREC Intern, 2004

Insect Size and Foraging Distances for Insects Visiting Eryngium yuccifolium by Valerie Slegesky, Elmhurst College, Chicago, IL, 2007

Beneficial insects and native plants

Previous Pollinator Postings