TLC's Blog (146)
June Keibler returns to TLC's board of directors in 2019 after serving on the board from 1991-96. She and her husband Steve live in Dundee and have a grown son and daughter and five grandchildren.
How do you spend your days?
I am retired. I volunteer for Dundee Township Open Space helping to coordinate volunteer workdays for ecological restoration.
What are your ties to McHenry County?
We own a 73-acre farm held in a conservation easement in Alden that we are restoring to prairie and savanna. The strong land/environmental ethic is a defining characteristic of the county, and I like that.
Why did you decide to join TLC board?
I am a founding member of The Land Conservancy, and having the land in Alden has given me a new connection to McHenry County. Also, I think the work TLC is doing is extremely valuable.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I'm looking forward to getting to know the board and staff and working to protect land in McHenry County.
Becky Walkington, daughter of Dick & Betty Babcock, passed away Jan. 16, 2018 after a struggle with cancer.
Many people tell me they don't think that trees need care or attention.
They think that trees in the woods don't need help to survive, so they don’t do anything to help them. I can appreciate this perspective, but I disagree with it. A healthy woods is sustainable but suburban backyard conditions are far from healthy for trees.
Our soils are often compacted, lack organic matter, and have been drastically changed from a healthy woodland soil. Poor soil conditions can lead to all sorts of problems like girdling roots, chlorosis, root rot and other stress-related problems. About 80 percent of all tree health problems are due to soil-related issues. Most other tree problems are due to imported insect and disease issues.
To help improve soil conditions we can properly mulch our trees. The mulch decomposes, and as it does, it replicates soil conditions a tree would find in a woodland environment. Please no “volcano” mulching, though. We are trying to mulch the roots and soil, not the tree trunk. A layer of mulch that is a few inches thick to the edge of the canopy is a great start..
If a tree falls over in the woods it’s probably not going to hurt anyone or cause damage. Landscape trees pose a risk of failing and creating safety concerns. Pruning is recommended to lessen the risks associated with trees in the suburban environment. In some situations trees need to be removed because the risk associated with them is too high.
We can also help our trees by watering in drought, fertilizing them and managing insect and disease issues. A certified arborist can help you determine what your trees need. The International Society of Arboriculture administers a proficiency test and continuing education to qualify a person as a certified arborist.
Trees are an important part of our environment, and properly caring for them maximizes the benefits they provide while minimizing the risks. Do what you can to care for your trees!
Shawn Kingzette, Certified Arborist IL-0959A
I received this article from Jessica Campbell and Lois Johnson of the McHenry County chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby and would like to share it with you as the November elections are approaching.
If you drive along Illinois Route 120 between Woodstock and McHenry, you have surely seen the Wolf Oak Woods property. This is the site where “that oak” lives. You know, the large bur oak whose branches touch the ground!
What do you associate with Valentine's Day? Hearts and flowers? A box of chocolates? Valentine's Day cards? Birds? In the fifth century A.D., Pope Galesius established February 14 as the Feast of Saint Valentine to recognize a priest who was martyred by the Romans in 269 A.D. In the Middle Ages, people in Europe associated St. Valentine’s Day with love when they noticed that birds began choosing their mates at that time. Did you know that cardinals start to sing on Valentine’s Day to attract a mate? The beautiful red male cardinals, even more brilliant against the white snow, begin to sing their distinctive tune that some describe as sounding like they are saying "birdie, birdie, birdie." The females, colored a pale brown with a few red accents, also sing, but their muted plumage doesn't draw the eye as sharply as the males' red. Something you might not know about cardinals, is that they mate for life. Once paired up, they stick with their partner through thick and thin*. The male cardinal brings food to the female while she is brooding their eggs, and also to her and the fledglings once the eggs hatch. Now, I associate Valentine's Day with the return of the beautiful song of this beautiful bird that mates for life and brings so much joy! I hope you enjoy this sweet poem that always makes me smile. Cardinals by John L. Stanizzi (for Carol) I had seen them in the tree, and heard they mate for life, so I hung a bird feeder and waited. By the third day, sparrows and purple finches hovered and jockeyed like a swarm of bees fighting over one flower. So I hung another feeder, but the squabbling continued and the seed spilled like a shower of tiny meteors onto the ground where starlings had congregated, and blue jays, annoyed at the world, disrupted everyone except the mourning doves, who ambled around like plump old women poking for the firmest head of lettuce. Then early one evening they came, the only ones— she stood on the periphery of the small galaxy of seed; he hopped among the nuggets, calmly chose one seed at a time, carried it to her, placed it in her beak; she, head tilted, accepted it. Then they fluffed, hopped together, did it all over again. And filled with love, I phoned to tell you, over and over, about each time he celebrated being there, all alone, with her. * To be completely accurate, cardinals are what is called socially monogamous - they raise the children together. But they are not always sexually faithful, and 9-35% of the fledglings that hatch have a different father than the one who raises them!
A garden can be much more than a beautiful part of one’s home. It can also be a connection to people and the past.A garden can be much more than a beautiful part of one’s home. It can also be a connection to people and the past.
Each spring when the Virginia bluebells, trillium and wild geraniums emerge, I think of Barbara Wilson and Dale Galloway. Both invited me to dig native woodland wildflowers from their properties 15 years ago or more. Each was a kind, thoughtful and brilliant person who loved nature and worked to make the world a better place.
Barbara passed away in May. Dale moved to Texas some years ago. The plants still bloom each spring.
When I look at the growing redbud tree in our yard, I remember Madeline Bolger. A kind soul who once gave me two redbud twigs she received in the mail, saying that she had already planted several in her yard. That was in 2005. For several years, those sticks remained sticks, but they were still alive.
Madeline passed away in September 2013. In spring 2014, those sticks had grown enough that they bloomed. Today they are 10-feet tall.
In fall 2008, we seeded part of our yard with a mix of savanna plants selected by George Johnson. Species like figwort, columbine and showy goldenrod are there because of him – and a much larger area of the yard is now growing with savanna and woodland plants because George inspired me to give nature a home in my yard.
George moved to Madison, Wisconsin several years ago. He comes to the area once in a while to visit friends. I need to remember to invite him to my house so he can see the garden he inspired.
The other day, I posted some photos of a few of the plants that are blooming in my yard with the title “A few of my favorite things.” A friend, Kathleen, asked about one of the plants – a mass of pretty yellow flowers. It is called sundrop or evening primrose, a native perennial. I offered to share some with her, and mentioned that Nancy Wicker had given the plant to me. Kathleen knew Nancy well, and so she commented that the flowers would be extra special.
I remember the day Nancy gave me the flowers. She had dug them up from her garden because they were taking over. The plants were in plastic grocery bags, and clearly had been for some days. Nancy passed away last year, but those sundrops are doing well, and their bright little faces remind me of Nancy’s lovely smile.
Sometimes the memory is bittersweet. That is how I feel when I see the Shingle oak that we planted in 2005. We purchased it in a tree auction at McHenry County Nursery. That was when I first met Mary McClelland and Joe Beeson who ran the nursery. We found that we had a lot in common – including a love of oak trees – and for the next decade enjoyed a friendship.
In 2006, Mary and Joe approached The Land Conservancy’s board and asked that TLC start looking into the issue of the declining oak woodland and savanna habitat in the county. That encouragement led to the creation of Project Quercus, the Oak Keepers program, preservation and restoration of Gateway Park in Harvard and most recently, acquisition and restoration of the Wolf Oak Woods near Woodstock.
Over the years, Mary and Joe donated thousands of young oaks that TLC planted throughout the county with school groups, service organizations, scout troops and 4-H Clubs to raise awareness of the need to help bring young oaks back to the local landscape.
The personal friendship has faded, but the fond memories remain, rooted in the living legacy they created.
That’s the case with Barbara, Dale, Madeline, George, Nancy and so many others – a list too long to include here. People move in and out of our lives for many reasons, but they can always live on in our memories – and sometimes in our gardens.