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Oakbrook Public Library, Oakbrook, Illinois

We began work in June, 2005. The large roadside sign welcomes visitors to the library.

The original landscaping in June 2005 around the Children's Library was depressing. All the kids could see from the windows was a row of shrubs, a spotty lawn from which the topsoil had been removed, exposed clay and a large storm sewer grate (not seen here).

The garden was planted in the drought of 2005. We planted two garden beds -- a prairie garden near the Children's LIbrary window and a rain garden about 100 feet away around a storm sewer drain at the end of a swale.

Bird baths and bird houses were added to create a wildlife habitat near the windows so the kids could see Mother Nature in action.

Late Summer of 2005

Decorative grasses provide shade, cover and texture. See the bird house in the background.

See how the sunlight highlights the grasses. This is a natural effect commonly seen with native gardens. We always place stones and logs to add great natural accents as well as providing a place for snakes and toads to hide.

Fall of 2005: A view from the Children's Library.

The garden was designed to allow the children to watch the habitat from inside the library.

The bird bath is in the prairie garden near the windows and, in the background, is the rain garden around the storm sewer at the end of the swale.

Fall of 2005: A view of the Rain Garden.

All sorts of plants that love to be drenched live here in the rain garden. They provide food and a home for a wide variety of butterflies, birds and even rabbits and deer. All are welcome...some not as much as others.

"OBPL Wildflower Garden"

Summer of 2006: The Prairie Garden

Striking vertical, straight and erect (left to right):

- Sweet Indian Plantain, Cacalia suaveolens

- Rosin Weed, Silphium integrifolium

- Indian Grass, Sorghastrum nutans

- Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum.

There are two small clumps of Prairie Dropseed Grass, Sporobolus heterolepis, in the forground.

Summer of 2006: The Prairie Garden

See how out of place the meticulously maintained Arborvitae look when contrasted with this one year-old prairie garden.

Which plants do you think the kids, patrons, birds and butterflies are most interested in?

Summer of 2006: The view from inside the Children's Section looking out the window.

The Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, (left center) is a great plant for attracting birds, butterflies and bees. It is slightly fragrant and, as a matter of fact, makes a great tea.

It is also known as Bee Balm. How do you suppose it got this name?


Summer of 2006: A cute "caterpiller" (see detail, below) crawls along the edge of the swale which waters the rain garden. A large storm sewer grate lies in the center of the garden.

The Tall Coreopsis, Coreopsis tripteris, and Ironweed, Vernonia fasciculita, in the background can get really tall.

Here live plants that love getting wet.

See the "Caterpiller" crawl along the simulated stream bed that goes from the swale to the Rain Garden.


Summer of 2006

The Rain Garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Click on the - Conservation@Home Program to learn more.


Summer of 2006

View from the outside of the Children's Section of the library. Note the birdhouses to the left.

A better view is experienced when shorter plants are planted at the edges or outside with the taller plants in the middle or against the wall.

Fall of 2007

The Prairie Garden is now dying down in preparation for Winter. The beautiful seed heads and grasses display in various browns, golds, crimsons and greens.

Fall of 2007

It is best to keep the dormant plants up in the Fall and Winter as they provide food and shelter for different types of wildlife as well as a home for insects eggs and larvae to over-winter.

Fall of 2007

Native grasses look great in the Winter!

Although they are tall and impressive, they are not so full that you can not see through them.

Fall of 2007

The large leaves of the Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum, are very beautful as the plant goes dormant.

Winter of 2007/2008

It's Wintertime!

The Art and Linda's sign look great in the snow.

Winter of 2007/2008

The Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum, leaves are now all brown and curled up.

Winter 2007/2008

The seed heads provide food for the birds and the dormant grasses provide shelter for various animals.

Winter 2007/2008

Isn't this a lovely scene? The kids have something interesting to see in the dead of Winter.

Late Summer 2008

Native plants are magnificent!

Compare this scene with the previous image from last winter. See how the earth comes alive!

The purple New England Aster, Aster novae-angliae, (center) is so vibrant that your eye is immediately drawn to it.

Late Summer 2008

A little over three years ago this was just a storm sewer in a drainage area.

Look at it now!!

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