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The PAV YMCA in Berwyn, Illinois

How's this for easy maintenance? The entranceway to the YMCA was a crushed limestone-filled bed about 65 feet long, 6 feet wide and 6 inches deep. The bed faced south and the roof drained into gutters which drained into a storm sewer.

I am a member of this YMCA and asked John Usmail, the Executive Director, why the front looked this way. He replied that nothing was ever able to grow there because it was so hot in the Summer and in the Winter the ice would slide off the large roof and crush everything. I told him native plants would do very well there and offered to donate a garden for this area.


A Short Year Later !!

We removed the limestone and replaced it with topsoil. We left two feet open in front of the windows so they could be washed easily and, besides, I do not like to plant under an overhang. We planted a wide variety of sun-loving, Illinois native prairie wildflowers and grasses. The YMCA added birdhouses and birdbaths. Now all the members get to see the beautiful garden when they enter the building.


The PAV YMCA honored Art and Linda's Wildflowers with this beautiful banner, mounted several brass or ceramic plaques throughout the building, several more plaques which they presented us at various ceremonies and three free tickets to their annual pancake breakfast.


The beautiful Downy Sunflowers, Helianthus mollis, which grows to be about six feet tall. It is interesting that various culture guides and reference works, and observations in the natural world, indicate that theses plants are shorter in the wild than when put into cultivation.

Here is Purple Milkweed, Asclepis purpurascens, which grows to be two to three feet tall, is purple as the name implies and grows in the full sun as well as in medium shade. It is a food source for the Monarch Butterfly - adult and caterpillar.

The only stewardship needed is to cut off which portion of the large flowers that droop over the sidewalk. Of course, the garden is regularly weeded and cut down in the Spring.


Ths garden was planted in front of the classrooms ...


... so they could be enjoyed by the kids looking out the windows.


This wildflower garden was dedicated in memory of two long-time friends and patrons of the YMCA.




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