Native gardens an Illinois insects’ paradise

Heather Poppe’s native garden has grown over her 17 years of living in Homewood. Poppe, who works as a caregiver, said she loves growing her favorites — echinacea, milkweed, asters, goldenrod, liatris and Joe pye weed — from seed.

Heather Poppe sure appreciates the echinacea, also called purple cone flower, in her native garden. (Provided photo)
  Heather Poppe sure appreciates
  the echinacea, also called
  purple cone flower, in her
  native garden.
(Provided photos)
 

“I’m very passionate about growing native plants. I got my first native plants from Possibility Place in Monee,” Poppe said. “I was so excited when I found out about the Irons Oaks native plant sale, and I try to go every year.”

She avoids herbicides and pesticides, letting her collection of native trees, shrubs and flowers go a bit wild around her property. Poppe said she enjoys the unpredictability of native plants and how they attract pollinating insects and birds to her yard. 

  Heather Poppe loves to
  photograph the hummingbirds
  that drop by to feed on flowers.

 

“My yard is now a breeding ground for monarch butterflies, and I love to take pictures of the wildlife, especially the hummingbirds,” Poppe said. “One of the best things about my native garden is that I never know what’s going to pop up, or where.”

Sometimes she worries about what her neighbors think of her thicket of native plants, but she said most of them seem tolerant of her passion. Maybe they know how serious she is.

“I am one of the few people on my block who has dandelions, but I eat them,” she said. 

“The bees love them and they look so pretty mixed with the native violets in the spring.”

 

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