Parish members always called the wild, unkempt area on the northwest corner of church property “the forest.” It was dark, crowded and overgrown. When we decided to turn it into a pollinator garden, we knew it would need a lot of clean-up. The first thing we did was start to cut down what we thought were weed bushes. It turned out that they were tree stumps sprouting limbs from the ground, so they only looked like bushes. We removed many invasive species. There were times we thought we’d never finish with the clean-up.
The garden floor needed a mulch base. We sent email to local tree services asking for donations. Companies generously donated three large wood chip loads. The companies were happy to donate because, we learned, that they had to pay to dispose of wood chips. They were able to help our project and we all saved money. It took nearly two months to spread the wood chips because the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. We had a snowstorm in April. We had record rainfall in May. High school students volunteered to receive community service hours, which is the only reason we were able to spread all the wood chips.
There were a lot of stumps from previously removed trees. We added to the stump collection when we took down more than a dozen small ash trees because they were dying from the Emerald ash borer.
It’s starting to take shape. We can see where we might put plants donated to us from local garden clubs. Many generous members of the Palos Heights and Oak Lawn Garden Clubs donated plants from their gardens. In addition, the church Altar Guild started buying potted plants for altar flowers. These were donated to the garden.
The original pollinator garden edge had a curve that went behind the outdoor cross. We moved the garden edge to include the cross. This expanded the full sun area we could use for native Midwest plants. It also made practical sense to include the cross and straighten out the edge.
One of the goals was to make the garden a place for local wildlife. We were thinking about attracting birds and bees and butterflies. A doe had a different idea.
Come back again to see our progress!