A Conservation@Home Story

By Mark Luthin, NLI Vice President and Trustee

Kinsey next to her “birthday flowers”, Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Kinsey Reisetter absolutely had to show me her birthday flowers that she helped plant at their house. Of course, I had to help her off of her backyard swing first. Once she showed me her birthday flowers, she grabbed my hand, guided me back to her swing and insisted that I push her as high as possible. Saying no was not an option. Kinsey, daughter of Chris and Kim, will be 4 when her birthday flowers, Monarda, bloom again in June.

Chris, a long-time site steward at NLI’s Howard D. Colman Dells Nature Preserve, started the process of their second Conservation@Home certification 2 years ago when they moved to their new home a bit off of Rural Street in Rockford. The Reisetters had NLI’s first Conservation@Home certified site when the program was started in 2018.

Blazing Star

Chris began naturalizing their yard by “ripping out the cedars and periwinkle” that the previous owners enjoyed. An excellent mix of native ferns and forbs have been planted around the side of the house and along the driveway. Spiderwort, bluebells, bellwort, bloodroot, mayapples, prairie smoke and ginger will all show their colors early in the growing season. Of course, the birthday flowers will be attracting bees soon enough, as will Penstemons, blazing stars, mountain mint and asters. Chris also planted a witch hazel, which the long-eared rodents seem to enjoy. A small fence is in order, it seems.

Of course, the huge (black?) oak in the yard will attract a variety of insects and other wildlife, including woodpeckers that seem to enjoy the dead branch seen up high. It also makes for an excellent location from which to hang Kinsey’s swing. Having blooms from early spring through late fall provides our insect pollinator friends continuous food sources.

Providing food and water for birds, not using pesticides and managing for non-native invasive species are all important steps homeowners can do to keep our wild populations healthy.

Chris and his wife Kim, with Kinsey’s energy and assistance, are doing their part in this important work.

Editor’s Note: The Reisetter’s young daughter is learning about conservation at a young age and what a wonderful birthday gift she has with the native perennial Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), also commonly known as Bee Balm and Horse-Mint.

All Photos: Mark Luthin





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