Good service and wicked plants

August 26, 2012

Give back to nature on September 29

September 29, 2012 happens to be National Public Lands Day (NPLD), the nation’s largest, sIngle-day volunteer for public lands. NPLD will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. To register a public land site, click here. To volunteer, view our Find a Site map here.

It began rather inauspiciously in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. In 2011, more than 170,000 volunteers worked at 2,067 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories. NPLD volunteers: This is just some of what those volunteers accomplished:

  • Collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants
  • Built and maintained an estimated 1,500 miles of trails
  • Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants
  • Removed an estimated 500 tons of trash from trails and other places
  • Contributed an estimated $17 million through volunteer services to improve public lands across the country

In the Chicago Wilderness area, there are plenty of places where you can give back to nature and offer residents a chance to help protect and restore the region’s natural areas. In fact, it is being called the Chicago Wilderness Corporate Council Day of Service.

But you need to register to be part of the action. Simply complete this form , then email to ; fax to 630.829.6547 ; or mail to Patricia Cassady, Chicago Wilderness, c/o Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle IL 60532 . Registration deadline is September 19, 2012. Unless otherwise noted, all activities are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Meredith Cywinski of SET Environmental, Inc. is a Chicago Wilderness Corporate Council officer, who has served as our Day of Service coordinator in the City. She stops by today to talk about the valuable work that will be done in little more than a month.

Wicked Amy Stewart returns to the show

Any person who has written books titled Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects and Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities (among others) is always welcome on my radio show.

Let’s face it, Amy Stewart is probably the best horticultural writer in the business right now. Normally, that would make me jealous. But she’s also smart, cute and has always been very kind to me. It would be a little ungrateful to be that petty, don’t you think? (Not that I’m not capable of being very, very petty.)

And now she is appearing at the lovely Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles, Michigan on Saturday, September 8 for a talk called A Natural Murder: Using Poisonous Plants and Venomous Bugs to Create the Perfect Crime. If you’re a mystery writer, you’re going to plotz. But if you’re just a gardener or even thinking of doing in your spouse, this talk is for you.

The talk will be from 3:00 to 4:00 pm on the 8th. The cost is $25, or $20 if you’re a Fernwood Member. Click Here to register, which you need to do by September 6.

However, I happen to have a pair of tickets to this event in my hot little hands, which I will be giving away on today’s show. I will also be sending some luck people copies of Amy’s books Wicked Plants, Wicked Bugs and The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms.

Amy is also going to be in Normal, Illinois, on the campus of Illinois State University for almost a full day of events on September 6. They include a talk on Wicked Bugs at 9:30 a.m., a Garden Soiree with Amy Stewart from 4 to 6 p.m., and a Midwestern Night in the Garden of (not so) Good and Evil, where Amy talks about Wicked Plants.

Unfortunately, I don’t have tix for those events. But if you hit the above link, you can get more information on how to reserve tickets.

Congratulations to Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge

As I like to say, sometime the good guys win. That’s the case of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, which I’ve discussed on my show and which became a reality on August 15 when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made the announcement.

It’s hard to believe that this will be the first refuge in our region, which is why so many groups, like the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, Openlands, Friends of Hackmatack, The Trust for Public Land and people like Senator Richard Durbin fought so hard for its establishment.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior press release:

The refuge, which will not be officially established until the first parcel of land is purchased, will provide for restoration of wetlands, prairie and oak savanna habitat and provide a home for 109 species of animals and plants that are of concern. The list includes 49 birds, five fishes, five mussels, one amphibian, two reptiles and 47 plants.

The Service will also provide ample environmental education and recreational opportunities for visitors, including the 3.5 million people within 30 miles of the refuge.

Good stuff, folks. Congratulations to all!

The return of Beth Botts and Heather Frey…

…for a week, at least. I’m taking the day off next Sunday, September 2 and leaving my show in the capable hands of horticultural writer Beth Botts and good buddy Heather Frey. Be nice to them, okay? Of course, the enigmatic Denny Schetter will be spinning the dials. You don’t have to be quite as nice to him. I’m not exactly sure why.