Even as snow can be found on the ground, some people are still looking for gardening tips.
In an hour-long program on Jan. 11, native plant landscaper Monica Buckley, the owner of Chicago’s Red Stem Native Landscapes, spoke about the types of plants that will not only thrive in shade, but are native to the region and thus beneficial to the environment.
During the program, sponsored by the Friends of the Green Bay Trail and held at the Glencoe Park District’s Takiff Center headquarters, Buckley ticked off a number of possibilities for the aspiring shade gardener such as wild geranium, merry bells or spring beauty.
“They are part of the native habitat, which means they co-evolve with bees and butterflies in the region and thus support increasingly threatened species, such as the monarch butterfly,” Buckley said.
Buckley said some flowers that used to be abundant and thrived in shade are now being crowded out by invasive species, such as garlic mustard.
She cautioned against using ground covers, or plants that are low growing, such as English ivy and winter creeper, which are commonly found at garden centers.
“They can wreak havoc and take over a native woodland garden,” Buckley said.
Buckley, echoing an apprehension expressed by FGBT officials, also talked about the spread of buckthorn, an invasive shrub seen in gardens throughout the North Shore. Buckthorn takes over an area to the exclusion of other plants, according to Buckley and other plant experts.
“You see green earlier in the season than is normal for the area’s plants,” Buckley said, noting that the buckthorn shades out other species.
Removing buckthorn is an aim for the FGBT as the organization seeks to restore Glencoe’s portion of the Green Bay Trail.
FGBT board member Diane Greening said talks such as the one featuring Buckley bring out a larger point.
“We want to restore the Green Bay Trail, but we also want to have that bigger view that it all matters,” she said. “What you do in your own yard matters.”
Among those in the audience was Glencoe’s Anne Frank.
“I got excited about (the idea of) growing more native plants in my yard. I have a few and I want to help support the environment,” Frank said.
Also in the crowd was Glencoe’s Eileen Sirkin, who has a shade garden. She came away with ideas for different options when she starts to plant again.
“I’m always looking for different plants that you can plant in your garden,” Sirkin said.
Despite the January chill, the talk served as a reminder that spring would eventually come.
“The weather will get better,” Sirkin said. “We will be able to enjoy our garden.”
Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelancer for Pioneer Press.