Settling in for the winter

View from Harbert Deck

Volunteers took a moment to enjoy the view from the Harbert Park overlook deck today and imagine what it will look like next summer when new shrubs have settled in and put on some new growth. With buckthorn cleared and leaves down, there is a clear view across the channel now to the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park.

Working with a city crew, we had just finished mulching shrubs that were planted last month on the steep slope. The shrubs with shiny red leaves are the native red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia. They are related to the more familiar black chokeberry, A. melanocarpa, also planted here. A. arbutifolia, with its red fall foliage, is considered a good alternative to the invasive non-native burning bush that is used in many home landscapes. These native alternatives will provide nectar and pollen for a variety of pollinators, food for caterpillars of several butterflies and moths, and berries for migrating birds in the fall.

Aronia arbutifolia at Harbert Park

The one task remaining for the year will be sowing wildflower seeds into bare patches. For that, we plan to wait for snow. Sowing into snow will protect the seeds from birds and blowing wind and help to settle them into the soil for the winter cold they need as part of the germination process.

— Wendy Pollock