Sunday, July 19, 2015

Midewin Tallgrass Prairie - Restored lands park

Midewin Tallgrass Prairie - July, 2015

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie has been on my bucket list for a while. It's about an hour and a half from Chicago. That's close enough to have a nice day trip and just far enough to take some planning. 

Thus, when I had the opportunity to take a trip to Joliet area to participate in a charity bike ride, naturally I took a side trip over to see this prairie restoration. 

Despite the near 100 degree weather and thunderstorms - I loved it! Around every turn were wide open spaces, blooms, bugs and a restorative calm. 

This location is the first national tallgrass prairie. It's massive at 19,000 acres, the largest piece of contiguous open space in northeastern Illinois.  The panorama below does little justice to the feeling you get talking around the park.  On this hot hot day - there were hardly any other people there. I felt like an explorer or pioneer woman!

Midewin Tallgrass Prairie - July 2015

I have a very small section of garden I'm trying to make into a prairie with lots of native plants. This area was such an inspiration. It was started 20 years ago on the site of a military Arsenal.  Several areas are completely blocked odd as they are "under construction" - this area above in in process. The photos below are other areas which were considered fully restored. 

Compass Plant on the Prairie



They said the most vibrant plants are:

  • Tall Coreopsis
  • Pale Purple Coneflower
  • Purple Prairie Clover
  • Rattlesnake Master
  • Rough Blazing star
  • Wild Quinine
  • Pasture Rose
  • Spiderwort
  • Compass Plant
  • Golden Alexanders

I was a particular fan of the Royal Catchfly. The bright red color stood out so well amongst the yellow and white of all the other flowers.



The section above had a high number of Queen's Anne Lace. This is a plant that I regularly pull out of my garden / restoration area. In this setting, it looked so nice. I think I may need to reconsider.

Part of the park, as part of restoration, is still planted in farmland. Certain crops or rotations help to restore balance to the soil. 


I'm a big fan.  I think I hit the timing just right - everything blooming. 

I also visited the near-by Bird Haven Conservatory (review post coming.)

Next time maybe in the fall and take my bike. Would be nice to ride around here and the locks/river trails. 

Happy Day,

Teresa Marie