Cup plant, compass plant, rosinweed, senna, butterflyweed, and the largest lead plant
(call Guinness!) I’ve ever seen greeted me as I walked up to Ed Foster’s door. Centered
in the front yard of an average-sized Rockford city lot, Ed’s “island” of native plants
presented the purples of Echinacea and Monarda to the yellows of Senna and the fore-
mentioned Silphium species. It stood in stark contrast to his neighbor’s chemically
treated, manicured lawn across the street. Along the sidewalk leading up to the front
door, 3 foot tall Solomon’s seal and huge Jack-in-the-Pulpits and colorful St. John’s
Wort welcome guests (and pollinators). The neighbor’s maples provide ample shade for
a ground cover of wild ginger, wild geranium, Solomon’s seal, green dragon and a host
of other shade loving plants. A beautiful little pond is the main attraction in Ed’s
backyard, fully surrounded by native plants. Bees and dragonflies were quite active on
this warm sunny day. Speaking of bees, Ed has an active honey bee hive, and a
number of bee houses that mason bees were utilizing. Ed has 3 compost bins, including
one that feeds his herb garden. Even though it’s not on the C@H checklist, solar panels
convert the sun’s energy into electricity for Ed, his dog Roxy and his cats. Planting
native plants and not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides creates a haven for our
pollinator friends. Ed Foster has proven that you don’t need acres of land to do this.

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