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September 2, 2023
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WILDFLOWER FORECAST & HIGHLIGHTS to help you plan your outdoor adventures into Chicago nature:
September is “The Month of Gold” around Chicago as sunflowers and goldenrods fill our prairies and oak savannas alongside tall grasses that take on rich autumnal tones. And the start of the month also brings breathtaking purple performances of rough blazing star. But nature isn’t just about flowers. It’s about the experience. Explore and discover a preserve from the list below. Be open to nature’s unexpected gifts, whether it be a colorful, awe-inspiring bloom, the mysterious squeak of two rubbing trees mimicking the cry of a baby animal, or the life-affirming scent of mountain mint. All of these things will open up your life to a world of wonder and intrigue.
According to my database, follow the big purple shows of rough blazing star that is taking place at Shoe Factory Road Prairie, Bluff Spring Fen, Lake in the Hills Fen, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, and Pembroke Savanna. And this is usually the week when the prairies turn to gold, especially when towering sawtooth sunflower covers much of Wolf Road Prairie and good portions at Spears Woods! And then there’s Somme Prairie Grove that offers a breathtaking array of flowers and textures. September is also the time to view sublime gentians that grow low to the ground, including cream gentian and the blue bottle gentian, our Plant of the Week.
Somme Prairie Grove and Bluff Spring Fen each feature many performance stages thanks to a fanfare of color from at least two dozen flowering species. Bluff Spring Fen offers the aforementioned rough blazing star and Somme Prairie Grove features gentians of cream and blue that hide close to the ground.
Spears Woods features wildflower shows in its prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. This preserve also provides great trails far away from traffic, with varied habitats, and dramatic vistas.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When visiting a preserve before ten o’clock in the morning, wear rain gear or you could end up soaked to the skin from the dew. A pioneer of the prairie once remarked, “Walking through a dewy stand of big bluestem is like jumpin’ in the crick.” And I can vouch for that.
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and Pembroke Savanna are famous for their shows of rough blazing star that combine with sparkling florets of flowering spurge, goldenrods, and other flowers and grasses.
TIP: I recommend visiting grasslands at the beginning or the end of the day when it’s much cooler and the sunlight is beautiful. Prairies are treeless expanses with no escape from the sun. It’s a challenge to appreciate the prairie in the blinding light of a ninety-degree afternoon.
Shoe Factory Road Prairie should be blooming strong with rough blazing star and goldenrod, while the adjacent prairie should be covered with waves of auburn grasses and the yellows of sawtooth sunflower and goldenrod.
Gensburg-Markham Prairie, located in the south suburbs, is one of the finest prairies in the world. It offers a wide array of color and blowing seas of grasses.
TIP: Here is my most profound recommendation for enjoying your time in nature. If the preserve allows, arrive before first light. A morning rendezvous with nature is a magical experience that vastly transcends what’s possible at other times of day. In the early light, the world expands beyond the usual three dimensions, as the transformation from darkness into light excites more than just the visual sense. As night gives birth to dawn, and the landscape gently turns from azure to gold, the soft and changing light is a spectacle for the eyes. A moist fog or a splash of crisp dew against your skin affirms your existence. The still atmosphere concentrates the fragrances floating in the air and provides a tranquil stage for birds to project their crystal melodies. In the morning, you’ll find all of this, along with the promise of a new day.
This is the moment to experience the beautiful and prominent grasses of our prairies and oak savannas, including big bluestem, Indian grass, side oats grama, little bluestem, and Canada wild rye. Indian grass has feather duster plumes with miniature yellow flowers. And when you find yourself under the trees, look for bottlebrush grass and the wild ryes of Virginia and silky.
Goldenrod is beginning to bloom everywhere, but don’t worry about your allergies because goldenrod is NOT responsible for triggering them. Yes, you read that right. The pollen of goldenrod is so heavy that it drops to the ground. Therefore, it can’t float through air to be inhaled. The real culprit is common ragweed that blooms at the same time. This is also when many of the asters begin to flower, which marks the end of the blooming season. There are so many asters and goldenrods that it’s hard to identify them all. Click here for a complete (pdf) list of local asters and goldenrods. And, right now, you can see white snakeroot, the deadly plant that killed thousands in the 1800’s to what was called “milk sickness,” including Mary Lincoln, mother to Abraham. You can smell it and touch it, JUST DON’T EAT IT! Watch this video to learn more:
For a greater appreciation of our native habitats, touch and smell the plants. (But don’t eat them unless you know what you’re doing.) Run your fingers across the soft tan tassels of Indian grass and atop the rough, sometimes smooth leaves of our many sunflowers. Tickle your hand as you pass through a cloudy plume of prairie dropseed. And while you’re there, stop and pay attention to its rich fragrance of slightly burnt buttered popcorn. Receive the strong and refreshing fragrance of mint from the fading flowers of mountain mint and wild bergamot. The seeds of yellow coneflower smell like licorice, while the seeds of purple prairie clover give off my favorite good smell in Chicago nature—a transfusion of lemons and carrots. So, what is my favorite bad smell? That would be the brown, teardrop seed ball of foxglove beardtongue. When in bloom, the white snapdragon flowers have no appreciable smell. But beginning around the end of August, the seeds smell exactly like vomit. Some say, “moldy socks.” Either way, it’s fabulous!
Summer is a also a wonderful time to experience green glow in the prairie. Green glow is a term that I recently invented that describes the bright-green glow of foliage from sunlight shining through it. The green glow of compass plant and prairie dock is spectacular. Prairie dock is especially delightful when its large heart-shaped leaf is transformed into a projection screen, as plants that fall between the sun and the screen cast their silhouettes in a kind of prairie shadow play.
SUMMER WILDFLOWER GETAWAYS AROUND CHICAGO:
I’ve ranked the preserves on this week’s list based on the information predicted by my one-of-a-kind propriety database of wildflowers blooming events, starting out with the best or “Go!” The “Go, if You’re in the Neighborhood” section is for sites that are worth visiting if you can’t make it to the top-rated preserves.
LIKELY, THIS WEEK’S BEST CHOICES (“GO!”):
Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester: Golden! The prairie reaches peak golden bloom somewhere between the last days of August and the second week of September. Normally, I’d have you park at the kiosk along 31st Street on the south end. But to best immerse yourself into the deep sea of gold is to follow the narrow southbound trail located behind the prairie house on Constitution Avenue at the north end of the preserve. Quite quickly, the trail immerses you in swaying waves of towering sawtooth sunflower. Take your tape measure or a child on your shoulders to find the tallest one. The scientific literature states that they can grow as high as twelve feet. But I’ve found thirteen-footers here! That’s taller than two of me. (See picture below.) Large stands of tall boneset represent the most dominant display of white. Adding to the golds are flowers of tall coreopsis, rosinweed, and various species of goldenrod that include stiff, tall, grass-leaved, field, plus elm-leaved in the savanna. And depending on the year, prairie dock can create a magnificent show as they push up hundreds of skyward stalks of golden flowers. The aortic foliage of this plant is wonderful to behold. Take note of the bob hairdos of prairie dropseed and its feather duster plume that smells like slightly burnt buttered popcorn. And appreciate the warm hues of the coming season with the turkey-footed tassels of big bluestem and the flowering feathery plumes of Indian grass. Along your hike to the south end, you’ll experience cream gentian, bottle gentian, obedient plant, pasture thistle, rough blazing star, ironweed, and the soft green flower heads of round-headed bush clover. The oak savanna at the south end offers bottlebrush grass, goldenrod, the last of fading woodland sunflower, and the occasional ironweed. Note: Theodore Stone Preserve and Spears Woods are located close by.
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve in Zion: Wilderness! September often brings the stunning show starring the purples of rough blazing star that carry throughout the preserve, especially in the sand prairie. Starting at the parking lot of the nature preserve, the savanna is also flowering beautifully with the aforementioned rough blazing star alongside western sunflower, flowering spurge, and the yellow megaphone blossoms of large flowered false foxglove. However, the finest shows should be taking place in the sunny sand prairie where rough blazing star is joined by a breathtaking cast of western sunflower, flowering spurge, beach wormwood, white goldenrod and field goldenrod, and blooming bushes of shrubby cinquefoil amidst a sandy landscape of feathery Indian grass and sand reed, flowering little bluestem, and a sprawling groundcover of creeping juniper and bearberry. Note: Consider visiting Chiwaukee Prairie while you’re already in the area.
Shoe Factory Road Prairie in Hoffman Estates: A gem! This Illinois Nature Preserve is located atop the hill inside the fence, where the color is often dominated by pink, yellow, and white. The purple spikes of rough blazing star are usually the show-stealer. And it’s especially gorgeous if joined by the field goldenrod and the flamboyant showy goldenrod. Beautiful blushing displays of obedient plant and cylindrical blazing star might still be prominent alongside a smattering of nodding wild onion. And you should also find the golden blooms tall coreopsis, western sunflower, the goldenrods of stiff, field and showy, and the cousins of rosinweed, prairie dock and compass plant. I simply love the sea of short curving grass known as tall dropseed. The subtle, yet gorgeous, round-headed bush clover is showing off its fuzzy green head. And then there’s the ivory displays of flowering spurge and white goldenrod, which looks nothing like goldenrod and more like an aster. The savanna is overflowing with yellow and white, mostly comprised of tall goldenrod and tall boneset along with cup plant and tall coreopsis. From the overlook atop the hill, soak up the colors and textures of the vast grassland vista to the south, where the celebration continues. Venturing out into the prairie panorama, you’ll find an abundance of goldenrods and large strips of towering sawtooth sunflower that combine with golden tall coreopsis and rosinweed, the grasses of big bluestem and Indian grass, round-headed bush clover, flowering spurge, and lots of browning rattlesnake master and wild quinine. Note: Consider visiting Bluff Spring Fen while you’re here. It’s roughly in the neighborhood.
Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin: Peaceful! You can usually find tremendous beauty around this time, with at least twenty flower species blooming across the preserve. The trail begins by the kiosk where the oak savanna greets you and where you’ll find yourself protected under the warm embrace of majestic oaks. The trail winds you through the trees and along the kames, around the sunny prairie, and through the main wetland known as a fen. At first, you should see the fluffy and tall sweet Joe-Pye weed, towering white pale Indian plantain, the aptly named bottlebrush grass, silky wild rye and its larger cousin Canada wild rye. Look for the buttery blooms of large flowered false foxglove and mullein foxglove, as well as the towering stands of white pale Indian plantain and stunning mauve sweet Joe-Pye weed. At the troll bridge, where friendly trolls have helped to restore the adjacent wetland habitat, look to your right for a grand expanse of spotted Joe-Pye weed alongside towering white cowbane, gorgeous great blue lobelia, swamp thistle, sawtooth sunflower, cup plant, plus New England aster and others of that ilk. Continuing under the protection of oaks, you should find pasture thistle, and to your right at the base of the kame, you’ll find a glorious golden show of tall cutleaf coneflower and wingstem. And you might find the poisonous white snakeroot. (See video below.) On your left is a narrow trail that takes you to the top of the “big kame.” On your way up, look for the whimsical displays of the aptly named bottlebrush grass. Once atop the gravelly peak, you’ll experience a unique view of the preserve and a nice display of rough blazing star along with the remaining pinks of cylindrical blazing star and nodding wild onion. After returning to ground level, as you pass the savanna, I recommend making a right turn into the open prairie and moving counter-clockwise around the preserve back to this spot. Now under the sun, you’ll find blue vervain, sparkling flowering spurge, the fading flowers of wild quinine and rattlesnake master, the three flowering grasses of big bluestem, side oats grama, and Indian grass, plus sprays of switch grass and the wonderful bristled heads of Canada wild rye that will soak you to the skin when loaded with morning dew.
As the trail veers left to the east, you’ll again pass through sprawling stands of blooming big bluestem and then into a gravelly area. Ahead to your right is the “transplant kame.” In 1990, Healy Road Prairie, located six miles away, was being mined for its gravel, and a community of hundreds of volunteers dug it up and transplanted it here. (Read more about it here and here.) Years before, the transplant kame was also mined to the ground, but it was reconstructed to become the new home of Healy Road Prairie. On that kame, you should find some showy goldenrod and stiff goldenrod alongside many plants changing into their autumn wardrobes. Make a left at the end of the kame to descend into the bowl of the fen. Move slowly and watch your step as you pass through dense willows (which always need trimming) that also hides a narrow boardwalk that’s easy to trip over. Crossing the boardwalk will take you towards a gravelly bowl with pools of trickling water. That’s the main seep of the fen and one of the rarest habitats on earth. There, you’ll discover goldenrods, swamp betony, flat-topped aster, swamp thistle, Kalm’s lobelia, fringed gentian, and great blue lobelia. As you pass through the dense willows, move slowly and watch your step. (which desperately need trimming). Be careful not to trip on the narrow boardwalk that immediately awaits you by the willows!
As you continue to the north, watch for another narrow hard-to-see boardwalk. After crossing it, stay straight (don’t veer left), as the trail ducks under a low tree and up the “switchback kame.” On your way to the top, you’ll likely find a glorious purple display of rough blazing star and one of the main reasons to visit. As the trails steers left and down into the shade, you’ll see some of the same species as before, including especially nice stands of pale Indian plantain, and sweet Joe-Pye weed. At the top of the kame, head west towards the savanna. Soon, you’ll reach an intersection that you’ll take to the left and across a small creek with stepping stones. This is the place to experience plants from the fen, the prairie, and oak savanna. As you reach the kame, stay left with the kame to your right and you’ll soon find yourself back where you started and into the sun. If you visit early in the morning, wear rain gear or you’ll end up soaked to the skin from dew. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Note: While you’re here, consider checking out nearby Shoe Factory Road Prairie.
Lake in the Hills Fen in Lake in the Hills: Panoramic beauty! This preserve offers a dramatic panoramic view that is best enjoyed at edges of daylight, when it’s not hot and sunny. Enjoy the array of flowers that flow along the vast rolling landscape of the prairie and fen. Right now, dramatic shows of rough blazing star often take center stage in waves of purple and the golden hues of late summer exuded by the many goldenrods including Riddell’s, tall, and grass-leaved, plus the sunflower-like blooms of tall coreopsis, rosinweed, and vast colonies of sawtooth sunflower. Oceans of tall grasses wave in the warm prairie winds, including flowering, feathery Indian grass, turkey-foot tasseled big bluestem, and the breathtaking reddening little bluestem. As you walk the high and low trails, you’ll find many more blossoms, including the pinks of obedient plant and spotted Joe-Pye weed, and the purples of pasture thistle. White goldenrod may still be blooming blooming on a gravelly kame near the entrance. The plant looks nothing like goldenrod and more like an aster. Next to the the fens you may find grass-of-Parnassus, great blue lobelia, swamp thistle, shrubby cinquefoil, swamp betony, the cream, bottle and fringed gentians, and spotted Joe-Pye weed that also grows in abundance in most of the wet areas. Along your way, you’ll also notice a significant amount of ivory tall boneset. And you might find a small forest of prairie dock along the far southern trail. When you enter the preserve through the zig-zag opening, consider taking a left and hiking the short looping trail that ends right back at the entrance. Then take the longer trail (making a right at the entrance) that takes the high ground into the southern section of the fen and all the way to “Barbara’s Bench.” This memorial bench pays tribute to the late Barbara Wilson, who dedicated much of her life to the stewardship and protection of this preserve, and to her favorite area of the preserve. In 2004, Barb escorted me to this spot that’s overlooks the seep of a hanging fen that she described as “nirvana” and the “holiest of holy.” NOTE: If you visit in the morning, wear waterproof pants and shoes, otherwise you’ll likely get soaked to the skin with the dew.
Somme Prairie Grove in Northbrook: Resplendent! Somme Prairie Grove is known for the simultaneous blooms of many species, and that’s what you’ll find right now. However, most of the flowering is taking place in the sunny oak savanna. The woodland offers big displays of woodland sunflower and many more flowers and grasses that include the pink-plumed sweet Joe-Pye weed, lofty pale Indian plantain, the yellow-petaled sweet coneflower, brown-eyed Susan, black-eyed Susan, and large flowered false foxglove, plus the purple buttons of Missouri ironweed, and the perfectly named bottlebrush grass. Under the open sky of the savanna, golden rays of prairie dock, compass plant, and tall coreopsis reach for the clouds. Closer to Earth, you’ll find scores of other flowers that will take your breath away with sparkling textures and colors that include the following species: white filigrees of flowering spurge, faded wild quinine, mountain mint and rattlesnake master, the goldenrods (including early and grass-leaved), the wonderfully woolly flower heads of round-headed bush clover, and the pinks and purples of showy tick trefoil, nodding wild onion, swamp milkweed, obedient plant, spotted Joe-Pye weed, and a smattering of rough blazing star. And closest to earth are the glorious low-lying blooms of four gorgeous gentians: cream, bottle, stiff, and prairie. If you run into the yellow-flowered rosinweed, run your fingers over the stiff foliage and you’ll instantly understand the name. Along your walk, you may also find these flowering plants: blue vervain, self heal, the gorgeous red cardinal flower, and the miniature blooms of big bluestem and Indian grass. As is common during the late-summer months, you’ll travel through tunnels of big bluestem grass and Indian grass, which is probably the reason for the misnomer “tallgrass prairie.” It’s a misnomer because most species in a prairie are actually forbs (flowering plants). Still, when the first settlers travelling from the forests of the east, the towering grasses of Illinois would have been an unexpected obstacle. The floppy stringy hairdos of prairie dropseed is growing everywhere under the sun, but watch your step. It’s very easy to trip over. Come early or late in the day to experience green glow from compass plant and prairie dock. And finally, don’t miss the dramatic displays of rattlesnake master “skeletons.” While long past bloom, these decaying cadavers prove that even decay can be beautiful at Somme Prairie Grove! NOTE: The trails are narrow and can be somewhat overgrown. So watch your step. If you visit in the morning, wear rain gear or the plants will drench you with dew.
Pembroke Savanna in Hopkins Park: Paradise! This black oak/sand savanna should be putting on its finest performance of the season that can be described as purple with splashes of gold and white. The spectacular purple spikes of rough blazing star are the star of the show with a glowing cast that includes white flowering spurge, flashy field goldenrod, and the floating yellow rays of western sunflower. You’ll also find the buttery trumpets of large flowered false foxglove, the elegantly understated flower heads of round-headed bush clover, and many beautiful grasses.
Spears Woods in Willow Springs: An adventure! I love this preserve for its varied habitats, topography, and personalities. And it’s big enough to fill a good part of your day with hiking. The golds of September are now on display in the prairies as sawtooth sunflower and its shorter red-stemmed counterpart, long-bracted tickseed sunflower, are joined by tall coreopsis, stiff goldenrod, and others of that ilk. There should be a beautiful display of ivory false aster in the westmost prairie where it’s a little wet. There are some other flowers that should catch your eye along the way, including the ivories of tall boneset and the purplish hues of pasture thistle, ironweed, rough blazing star, New England aster, and slender false foxglove. And the turkey-foot tassels of big bluestem and feathered plumes of Indian grass fill the prairie with early tones of autumn. They sway in the prairie winds amongst a subtle color palette of plants that have exited the main stage. While the ivory Tinker Toy shapes of rattlesnake master and the cauliflower-heads of wild quinine have faded, they still maintain their whimsical nature. The white button flower heads of mountain mint don’t have many flowers left, but they still retain their stimulating scent. The woodlands have a bit of a sparkle, with elm-leaved goldenrod, white snakeroot, and a variety of asters. And finally, a small colony of American lotus in Hogwash Slough may still be seen from a high point along the trail. Note: Theodore Stone Preserve and Wolf Road Prairie is not too far away.
Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest: Golden! The prairie is overflowing golden flowers, mainly dominated sawtooth sunflower and many goldenrods that include tall, grass-leaved, and stiff. Also adding to the yellow mix is rosinweed, sneezeweed, brown-eyed Susan, and a towering combination of cup plant, tall coreopsis, sweet coneflower, and prairie dock. Highlights of pearl can be seen in flowering spurge and tall boneset alongside the browning rattlesnake master mountain mint, and the towering pale Indian plantain. The dramatic deep purples of ironweed add some visual excitement. And there’s much more to see: colonies of obedient plant, some remaining wild bergamot and mountain mint, the sublime cream gentian, and the start of New England aster. In the wetter areas, you may still find spires of great blue lobelia, halberd-leaved rose mallow, the brilliantly red cardinal flower, and the gorgeous pink blooms of swamp milkweed and spotted Joe-Pye weed. And finally, this is the perfect time to experience the many grasses that include Canada wild rye, big bluestem, and Indian grass.
Gensburg-Markham Prairie in Markham: First of all, the preserve is NOT LOCKED. It only looks that way. The chain is just draped over the top of the gate. Just move the chain to enter, and then move it back when you leave. Once inside, I suggest walking all of the trails to enjoy the many flowers that vary along the way. In August, you can often find at least two dozen species in bloom at the same time, while the textures of the grasses and sedges add to the grand experience. Stop to appreciate the purple waves of big bluestem and oceans of prairie cordgrass that rise and fall like waves in the wind. Experience the whimsical plumes of Canada wild rye, big bluestem, Indian grass, switch grass, and prairie dropseed. Spend a moment to inhale dropseed‘s feather duster. It smells like slightly burnt buttered popcorn. Start by taking the path to your left, and travel clockwise around the square mowed trail. Along your way, you should find a beautiful mix of yellow, white, and pink. Grass-leaved, tall, and stiff goldenrod combine with sympathetic hues of long-bracted tickseed sunflower sawtooth sunflower, rosinweed, tall coreopsis, prairie dock, and sneezeweed. Large white blooms of tall boneset fall amidst the now-brown flowers of rattlesnake master, wild quinine, and mountain mint. And the pinks are provided by ironweed, slender false foxglove, and the start of New England aster, and spotted Joe-Pye weed in the wet areas, and the occasional appearances of rough blazing star and pasture thistle. As you peruse the prairie, see if you can find the fluffy greenish heads of round-headed bush clover. As you return on the final leg of the square, the scenery turns to shrubs and royal ferns.
“GO, IF YOU’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD”:
Theodore Stone Preserve in Hodgkins: A glorious grassland! The main show should be taking place in small patch of dolomite prairie on the eastern half of the preserve, where rough blazing star is blooming strong alongside reddish sprays of the beautiful little bluestem grass, pink blooms of nodding wild onion, yellow highlights of field goldenrod and prairie dock, and a good amount of the unusual white goldenrod. Aside from that little show, the sea of grasses and the mix of yellow flowers dominates the vast majority of the prairie panorama. You’ll experience the beautiful flowing grasses that includes: Indian grass, big bluestem, little bluestem, switch grass, Canada wild rye, prairie dropseed, and side oats grama. And you’ll see a variety of flowers, too, like tall coreopsis, goldenrods, smooth ironweed, spotted Joe-Pye weed, great blue lobelia, sneezeweed, sweet coneflower, swamp rose mallow, pasture thistle, swamp thistle, and stands of late boneset. NOTE: Spears Woods and Wolf Road Prairie are not too far away.
Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove: Right now, this intimate remnant prairie is not nearly as showy as the preserves on our “Go” list (above). Currently, you’ll find a scattered display of rough blazing star alongside the pinks of nodding wild onion, the occasional pasture thistle, and the seas of towering grasses that give the forb-rich tallgrass prairie its misleading name. A tunnel of big bluestem takes over much of the southern path, obscuring everything from view. If you visit in the morning, make sure to wear rain gear or you’ll get drenched from head to toe. You’ll see tall goldenrod and skyward sawtooth sunflower with other goldenrod species beginning their blooms. There are sparkles of ivory in a late-blooming patch of wild quinine, the whitish pink blooms of nodding wild onion, and the sublime cream gentian. To find this cream-colored flower that resembles blue bottle gentian (see pictures below), keep your eyes down and pay careful attention as you walk the trail.
Chiwaukee Prairie in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin (8/29=): This gorgeous prairie-by-the-lake offers various goldenrods, some very nice patches of western sunflower, a smattering of rough blazing star, and sparkling sprays of flowering spurge. Also, blooms of Goldenrod, sawtooth sunflower, and Kalm’s St. John’s wort are in keeping with the month of gold. And you may find the purples of the sublime prairie and fringed gentian. Note: Definitely consider visiting Illinois Beach Nature Preserve while you’re already in the area.
The hummingbirds are here! You can find them buzzing about at many nature centers including: Sagawau Canyon, Pilcher Park (at the nature center and south of the greenhouse), and Little Red Schoolhouse.
Miller Woods, Tolleston Dunes, Cowles Bog Trail, and Hoosier Prairie (all in northwestern Indiana) are leaping with gymnastic ferns that are beginning to change into their autumn colors.
SEE A SUMMER SUNSET
Saganashkee Slough in Palos Hills: Sensational for sunsets, as our celestial star—a bright, burning brass ball—slowly sinks in the sky to start a sultry summer eve.
PLANT OF THE WEEK: BOTTLE GENTIAN
Wolf Road Prairie
Bluff Spring Fen
Shoe Factory Road Prairie
Lake in the Hills Fen
Illinois Beach Nature Preserve
Rough Blazing Star
Cylindrical Blazing Star
Spotted Joe-Pye Weed
Sweet Joe-Pye Weed
Canada Wild Rye
Swamp Rose Mallow
The Charismatic Foliage of Compass Plant & Prairie Dock
Prairie Root System
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