Purple Prairie Favorites

Agastache scrophulariaefoliarevPurple, the color of royalty, graces our prairies throughout the season. There are many purple-flowering plants native to the Chicago area that can add richness to your landscape or natural area. We’ve chosen to highlight a mix of the common and unusual for your sunny spot. All of these species attract and support pollinators.

Agastache scrophulariifolia or Purple Giant Hyssop

Purple Giant Hyssop is a large clumping perennial in the mint family with square stems and pale lavender flower spikes from July until fall. Reaching about six feet high, this hyssop prefers prairie and savanna situations with moist soils, although it will readily adapt to average and dry areas. Its long-blooming flowers are extremely popular with bees and butterflies. Read More…

Weeds Not Wildflowers

Garlic Mustard
Garlic Mustard

Have you seen these weeds? These aggressive invaders are blooming along roadsides, in forest preserves, and in your own backyard. They are not native wildflowers and can smother our desirable species. Don’t let them get a toehold on your property. We can help! Share this so we can spread the word about invasive species.   Read More…

Featured Project: “Our Piece of the Planet”

Wild Blue Phlox, Wild Geranium, Great White Trillium
Wild Blue Phlox, Wild Geranium, Great White Trillium

In 2015 a family approached us about their newly purchased vacation property in Michigan. They had acquired 35 acres of old fields and remnant forest. They planned to build a home as well as enjoy the natural areas. They hired Pizzo & Associates, Ltd. to site the buildings and the driveway as well as craft an ecological restoration plan.  Read More…

What’s Happening Now? Spring Has Arrived to Natural Areas

trillium_woods
Trillium recurvatum

This year, spring has arrived early and Mother Nature is bursting with color and sound. You’ll see our crews out planting seed and spot-treating early season weeds like garlic mustard, thistle, and reed canary grass. We’ve packed up the burn gear as tender plants are emerging and we’ll start planting plugs beginning in mid-May. It’s a good time to ask us about drawing up plans for later in the year or 2017. Meanwhile, get outside and enjoy this beautiful season. Here’s what’s happening in our natural areas.  Read More…

Contract Growing: Plan for Plants

HHcorlanAt Pizzo Native Plant Nursery LLC, one of the ways we can deliver top quality plants when you need them is through contract grows. Contract grows are ideal for bigger orders and large installation projects. We’ll ship or deliver, too!

Contract growing allows you to specify exactly to your installation needs. We are happy to grow anywhere from a 72-cell tray up to 2-quarts and #1 containers. If you need to meet project specifications or need to secure large quantities to be ready at a particular time, it’s worth investigating a contract grow. We can also grow from your seed or seed collected from a particular county of origin. More benefits include: Read More…

Assessing a Natural Area

Monitoring flora
Monitoring flora

Successful ecological restoration begins with properly assessing a site. What kind of plants and animals are there? What is the topography? Is there water and how does it move? Walking a site and being immersed in it allows ecologists, landscape architects, and planners to get to know its special characteristics and how to maximize resources to restore its natural beauty. Sometimes, we find threatened and endangered species or particularly valuable remnant ecosystems. Read More…

Spring Clean Up: Bring Your Woods Back to Life

Ada Harmon-05 2005Spring is a special time in the Midwest where we shake off the weariness of winter and Mother Nature celebrates with a burst of color. Have you walked in the woods looking for spring wildflowers? Have you experienced the magic of Jack-in-the-Pulpit or carpets of Virginia Bluebells? Midwestern woodlands should be open so you can see through the trees. Birds forage from the tips of the branches to the ground layer covered with wildflowers and grasses. Read More…

Featured Project: Rainbow Beach, Unexpected Gem

Rainbow Beach After photo 4Rainbow Beach Park is tucked along Lake Shore Drive on the south side of Chicago and is part of the Chicago Park District. This beautiful slice of rare remnant dunes includes a unique pan environment and dry mesic prairie along with beaches, recreation areas and field house. Initially established as a park in 1908 it is named for the U.S. Army’s 42nd Rainbow Division that fought in World War I. We are delighted that it has won an Excellence in Landscape Gold Award from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. Read More…

Salt Tolerant Native Plants

b_amocan_1(2)Amorpha canescens

Winter in the Chicago area inevitably means salted roads and walkways. Fortunately, some of our native plants will happily tolerate salt and still be beautiful. We’ve chosen a list of plants we find able to not only absorb and clean polluted snowmelt and runoff, but are well-behaved in the landscape.

Amorpha canescens or Lead Plant

Lead plant gets its common name from its dusty grey green foliage that looks like oxidized lead. This short sub-shrub will surprise you with long lasting purple flower spikes covered in bright orange anthers. Plant it in the front of the border where you can reach out and touch the soft leaves. It does best in full sun to part shade and good drainage. Read More…

Pretty Penstemons for Prairies and Savannas

penstemon digitalis
Penstemon digitalis

Penstemon or beardtongue can be a beautiful addition to your prairie or savanna site. With tall clusters of white, lavender or pink tubular flowers above a mound of foliage, penstemons are lovely in natural areas or landscaped gardens. Blooming in May through June or July, they attract a wide range of long tongued bees including honeybees and bumblebees. Butterflies, sphinx moths and hummingbirds are occasional visitors. After flowering, the attractive seed capsules are often scattered by wind. These four species are commonly found in Illinois, are easy to grow, and make nice cut bouquets. Read More…

Featured Project: DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church

duuc_2015
The savanna in the foreground and raingarden in the background are teeming with life.
duuc_2013
The first year, new grasses and forbs sprouted right away.

Prompted by an addition to expand the church, native landscaping is building a greater sense of community between nature and people to DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville. Beginning in 2012, The Pizzo Group was contracted to redesign and rebuild the entire greenspace of the church. The landscape architects at ecology + vision, llc designed a planting plan using live plugs for the front entrance areas, raingarden, and parking lot. The rest was seeded by Pizzo & Associates, Ltd. “The front yard, with the savanna under the big trees on one side and the raingarden on the other, began blooming the first season and continues to impress visitors with the succession of colorful flowers throughout the growing season,” says church member Pat Clancy. Read More…

Plan a Pollinator Paradise

CoButterflies on Stiff Goldenrod 2nsider planning an area for pollinators and create your own buzzing paradise! Late fall and winter is an ideal time to take some time and decide how you can help our many beneficial insects. We welcome many species of bees and butterflies in Illinois, but don’t forget that wasps, flies, moths, bugs, and spiders are important too.

Pollinators are active from the first thaw past the first frost. Plan on nectar rich native flowers as a quick and easy food source for your insect population. Choose wildflowers thoughtfully so that you have blossoms spring to fall. For example, shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) blooms in April and is favored by bumblebees. Asters (Symphyotrichum sp.) can bloom well into November and offer an important late season stock up for migrating butterflies. Choose a variety of flower shapes to attract the most diverse array of species. Remember to add some milkweed species for monarchs, too! Read More…