A Conservation@Home Story

By Mark Luthin, NLI Trustee and Vice President

As Greg and Jamie Zimmerman are quickly learning, naturalizing their yard takes a lot of time and effort. For the past 7 years, Greg and Jamie have worked on their 5 acre tract of land in Roscoe, seeding and planting plugs of native plants and working on eradicating invasive species. They realize that they can only do so much, so their focus is on smaller chunks of land, allowing them to witness the progress that they’ve made. What a wonderful piece of land they live on, too.

The drive up to the house crosses a small stream, possibly a tributary of Kinnikinnick Creek. The driveway is well-shaded with a mix of mature oaks, walnuts, and maples providing most of the shade. The strong, perfumed smell of peonies is hard to ignore. Native hydrangea are incorporated along the path as well.

Most of the tour involved hiking on a mowed path through their pollinator gardens. Periodic metal tags line the path, identifying where desirable plants have been discovered or planted. The nice thing about pollinator gardens is that they change on a weekly basis. While lupine and spiderwort are currently blooming, Culver’s root, senna, bergamot, coreopsis and Spotted Joe-Pye weed will start their show as summer progresses. Of course, what would a pollinator garden be without milkweeds ready to feed hungry monarch caterpillars? The compass plant was already sending up its flower stalk as well.

A number of fruit trees, herbs, teas and vegetables were growing in an enclosure. When asked if the enclosed garden was for humans or wildlife, the answer was a hearty “Both!” Soon, the enclosed plantings will be watered via two rain barrels hooked up to downspouts on a nearby shed.

After the recent rains, their little creek was a bit cloudy. However, it normally runs clear and cool. Having a handy water source is so beneficial to wildlife. Providing homes for our winged friends is also important. A TV antenna had a variety of bird houses lashed onto it.  Bat houses and martin houses are also found on the Zimmerman property.

A discovery of a patch of reed canary grass (oh no!) and crown vetch will likely dictate their next little battle. We laughed that there is always something to work on.

Greg and Jamie are deservedly proud of what they’ve been able to do with their property. They would like to extend their thanks and acknowledgment to the previous owners, George and Violet Bane, who had the foresight and awareness to keep the property wildlife friendly. Providing food, water and shelter helps a variety of species survive on their property. Of course, Greg and Jamie are able to enjoy watching the changes take place, and observe who comes to visit.

Editor’s Note:
Learn about the Conseration@Home, Work and School programs here. If you would like to talk to someone about getting your yard recoginzed as a Conservation@Home, Work or School site call the NLI office at 815/964-6666 and ask for Kim. 






All above photos by Mark Lulthin

Bird houses photo provided by the Zimmermans

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