One of the Green Hills Public Library District's Strategic Plan objectives is to broaden community partnerships with local organizations. We were able to contribute to this through a partnership with Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights.
We were pleasantly surprised when staff from Lake Katherine approached us in 2018 to discuss the possibility of installing a native pollinator garden on available green space. We met with Gareth Blakesley, Lake Katherine Director & Chief Naturalist and Sara Barnas, Lake Katherine Naturalist, who are both very knowledgeable in this area and helped us understand the benefits of native landscaping.
"We're really excited Green Hills Public Library decided to replace a lot of their mowed lawn with native habitat. Pollinators are in severe decline, not only around this area, but around the world. Installing these small islands of habitat for pollinators is crucial. As more and more businesses and residents start to create these smaller habitats, these islands of habitat start to, in effect, act like a larger ecosystem, allowing easier access for wildlife to find the resources they need," Blakesley said.
"The fact that Green Hills decided to jump in and do something to help is not only publicly inspiring and educational but hugely beneficial to our local pollinators," Barnas added.
According to Pollinator Partnership, pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and changes in climatic patterns are all contributing to shrinking and shifting pollinator populations, but the decline is attributed mostly to fragmentation and loss of foraging and nesting habitats. A further decrease in pollinator populations could have large scale negative impacts on agriculture and overall ecosystem health.
The Library was enthusiastic about being part of this initiative for increasing pollinator populations. In late spring 2019, Lake Katherine staff installed the native plants along the east walking path.
We invite you to take a look at the newly planted areas along the walking path on the east side of the Library building. Some of the native plants you'll find in our garden include: grasses such as Big bluestem, Little bluestem, Switchgrass and forbs (aka flowers) such as Wild bergamot, Blue wild indigo, Butterfly weed, Purple prairie clover, Rattlesnake master, a variety of asters, Wild petunia, Thimbleweed, and Anise Hyssop.
We are enthusiastic about being part of this initiative for increasing pollinator populations. We hope that this partnership will spark interest from other community organizations to consider installing a native garden and contribute to more beneficial vegetation.