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    Saturday, June 4 | St. Charles Park District’s 2nd Annual Native Plant Sale

    Shop for your garden and discover which plants will thrive best during the St. Charles Park District’s 2nd annual Native Plant Sale.

    The Jack in the Pulpit can be found growing in the forest in moist soil near streams.

    This year’s sale will feature more than 60 species of plants, said Chris Gingrich, assistant superintendent of outdoor education.

    “All of the plants are native to Illinois and suited to our local climate and local ecosystems,” Gingrich said.

    He said the park district’s naturalists, who help restore natural areas and parks, have selected a variety of plants that will be included in the sale. Selecting native plants is beneficial to local wildlife.

    “Typically, a greater variety of insects make use of natives than of non-native varieties. Insects in turn are a food source for birds and other animals. If you think of it in terms of how much value a plant brings to the area, natives provide more benefit to more creatures than non-natives,” Gingrich said. “In addition, since they are adapted to our area, these plants often require less watering and chemicals to sustain them in the garden.”

    One example of a popular native plant is milkweed, which monarch butterflies rely on as egg laying sites and which provide food to their caterpillars. Gingrich said the sale will include several species of milkweed as well as other plants that benefit pollinators.

    “Research shows that a wider variety of native insects benefit more from the native plants that they have adapted to live with over time than newer ornamental plants introduced from other parts of the world,” Gingrich said.

    And native plants are hardly boring, as there are plenty of species that offer beautiful color and decoration for your garden.

    “There are so many gorgeous and unique plants that bloom in different colors and throughout different times of the year and that have interesting structure in addition to their blooms,” Gingrich said. “I am a huge fan of the deep blue blossoms of the spiderwort which are open in the mornings but close up by midday. The tall purple stalks of prairie blazing star are great pop of color in mid-summer. You can’t beat Virginia bluebells for an early splash of color in the spring that can fill in those shady spots in your yard. And even some of the less colorful plants can have appeal with their leaves and stature and these include grasses, sedges and ferns.”

    The sale is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4 at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in St. Charles. Park district staff will be available to answer questions and help shoppers understand the various plants, benefits and of course, which work best in shade, sun and different soil types.

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