Exploring Native Gardens in our Pesticide-Free Parks

Written by Greenwise Team
Published on September 17, 2020
native garden
TRAHAN PARK’S NATIVE GARDEN Walking past gardens is one of the joys of a daily walk. In our neighborhood, we get to enjoy a gorgeous native garden in our local Pesticide-Free park. On your many walks during Covid, I hope you’ve been lucky enough to see the fruits of your neighbors’ hard work in the form of beautiful gardens. (Gardening is another great activity during this time!) On my daily walks with our dog, Samba, I make it a habit to walk through Trahan Park on Ridge and Monroe. Trahan Park is one of our Pesticide-Free parks in Evanston. In 2015 we joined efforts with the City of Evanston to establish five parks that we would fertilize organically for free. It’s just one way we give back to the community and provide safe spaces for us all to enjoy, especially our kids and dogs. Walking through Trahan Park is such a pleasure because Rick, an avid gardener who lives next to the park, has taken on creating and maintaining a flourishing native garden in the park for all to enjoy. “It is great that the city and Greenwise have partnered on some parks, especially Trahan. Without any playground equipment at Trahan, people just play on the grass, and mostly it’s families with small kids. So, for the park to be cared for in a responsible way is great.  I’ll be honest here, I used to use Roundup to get rid of weeds in the garden, but I stopped once the Pesticide-Free sign went up,” Rick says.
native garden
When Rick moved in next to the park, he didn’t have any sun in his yard for a garden. The park had been neglected at that time and so the city of Evanston gave him permission to carve out a small space to start a garden. They helped him remove old Junipers to create a sunny, welcoming space for the neighborhood to enjoy. This past August, I was sitting next to the garden with my friend Karen and she told me how Rick offered to cut her a bouquet of flowers! “There is nothing quite like surprising a stranger with a random bouquet.  Young or old, male or female, doesn’t really matter.  It used to make my family cringe because they thought it was so strange, but hey, they got over it.  It is a really good cut flower garden.  My favorite was a younger guy, probably in high school, who I asked if he had a mom or sister.  He looked at me kind of funny, and I said I bet they would like these, and he said ‘yea’ and left with a smile,” Rick says. Rick didn’t start out with the mission of bringing back pollinators, but he’s noticed a lot of goldfinches a few weeks ago. “There is no doubt that the pollinators are up. There are so many bees all season, of all sizes.  And my neighbors are the ones with the real mission.  They have harvested over 100 monarch eggs that they take into their condo and raise into butterflies.  They share with the little kids in their building; it’s great to see the look on their faces when they have a Monarch on their finger and it finally flies off,” exclaims Rick. Many thanks to Rick for all his work to create such a beautiful native garden that brings us joy and, of course, brings much joy and sustenance to the pollinators who need it to survive. Click here to learn more about why native gardens are so important and some of our favorite natives for your garden! Fall is a great time to plant a garden with its cooler temperatures. Here are six reasons why you should plant now!