2017 reflections. 2018 inspirations. 
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2017 Accomplishments

We are grateful for all of the joyful energy of our members, volunteers, and supporters over this past year.  Thanks to all of you 2017 was a year of action!  We wanted to reflect on what 2017 meant to us.  

Embracing senescence
It’s hard to believe it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2017, though those of us working in gardens and natural systems have been saying goodbye for a while. Fewer and fewer pollinators have visited the last remaining asters. Butterflies and their caterpillars have found their winter refuges in our gardens. We have watched flowers going to seed and the seasonal shifts of our residential birds. Dark-eyed Juncoes have arrived, formed their flocks, and marked out their foraging spots. Our gardens have functioned as waystations, making lives easier or even possible for migratory birds who are traversing continents, cultures, and habitats to their overwintering grounds in South and Central America. 

Photo right: Augochlora pura on Aromatic Aster (Read about this fascinating bee: Pure Golden Green Sweat Bee. )

Pollinator footsteps
As I cleaned milkweed seed, it occurred to me that these seeds are actually footsteps of a bee or a butterfly. When you begin to question milkweed pollination, a complex mystery unfolds. For details, see Milkweed Pollination. Put simply here, a pollen structure must attach to a pollinator’s foot. The pollinator then must carry it to another flower, where it inserts this pollen package. A milkweed flower is really a cluster of many small flowers, and one flower will produce a pod of over a hundred seeds. Thanks to tiny feet (or tarsi), we can receive the next generation of milkweed. 

Many such footsteps mark our gardens, whether visibly or invisibly. They might change our garden in surprising ways, bringing unexpected, wonderful visitors. Our plants continue to give all winter and support life, so please keep plants standing if you can. Everything is connected.

As you will see in the list below of what we’ve been up to, we joined forces with Green Community Connections (GCC) to spread the “Monarch Magic.” GCC’s programs around Monarchs were incredibly successful. Because of Sally Stovall, Oak Park is now a Mayors for Monarchs village. The village worked hard to plant milkweed and nectar plants to support Monarchs and other pollinators. This level of collaboration was immensely gratifying as we met mutual goals and strengthened each other’s mission. It is vital that our organizations support each other so that we can continue to benefit from our distinctive strengths.

Our speakers make us smarter

One hallmark of Wild Ones is the speaker series. As you will notice, scientists are important to us. We are so lucky to live in an area where professors are willing to share their research and knowledge with the public. We have also heard from professionals in the native landscaping or peers deeply experienced in living with native plants. Each contributes to our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for the natural world. Thank you to all of our wonderful speakers.

Read the entire post and long list of our activities: WCWO 2017 Accomplishments

--Stephanie and the rest of the WCWO Board


My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago: A Celebration of Chicagoland's Startling Natural Wonders
by Mike MacDonald

Get inspired by Mike MacDonald's coffee-table book that gives an in-depth view of Chicago's natural areas. The Chicago region is home to more native plants species than ANY national park.Yes! Chicagoland is home to 1,867 species, while the Grand Canyon comes in at just 1,544, the highest of any national park. This means that every single day between April and mid-September, there's a national-park quality blooming event taking place somewhere around Chicago.

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