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Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant Program Demonstration Gardens




Demonstration gardens for the Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program have been installed at the M. J. Rhymer Family Dry Grove Nature Preserve in Normal. Updates will be posted to this Web page. This project was made possible by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the Illinois Conservation Foundation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the M. J. Rhymer Family Dry Grove Nature Preserve.

 Planting - May 23, 2014

​Four raised-bed gardens and two prairie gardens were planted with native plant species.

 Progress - June 2, 2014

​Newspapers were used in all of the gardens to help control weed growth and reduce the effects of
wind and rain on the soil. Cardboard was used as edging around the prairie gardens, too. The
porous pavers around the gazebo help water to soak into the soil and reduce stormwater runoff.

 Progress - June 20, 2014

​There has been ample rainfall for the garden this spring so watering has not been needed
regularly. As you can see, however, some weeds are taking advantage of the moist
conditions and good soil to start growing in the prairie gardens. See the prairie garden
that has been weeded and cultivated in the June 27 images to note the difference.

 Progress - June 27, 2014

​This series of images shows the progress in the gardens after slightly over one month. Butterfly-weed
(Asclepias tuberosa - orange flowers) and beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis - white flowers) have
started blooming. The mulching paper has been removed from the gardens. Weeding and hand
cultivation have been completed in the east prairie garden and started in the west prairie garden.

 Progress - July 9, 2014

​The plants continue to grow well. The growing conditions have been excellent,
with regular rainfall and daytime temperatures mainly in the 80s.

 Progress - July 31, 2014

​Several species are blooming now. Others will not bloom until their second or third year. The growing
conditions continue to be excellent, with regular rainfall and daytime temperatures mainly in the 80s.

 Progress - August 26, 2014

​Flowers are beginning to appear for those plants that bloom in late summer and fall. Pollinators are busy visiting the flowers.

 Progress - September 19, 2014

​Late summer and fall flowers continue to appear. Many butterflies were visiting the flowers.

 Progress - October 24, 2014

​The flowering season is winding down. The foliage will be left in place to provide animal habitat through the winter.

The gardens grew exceptionally well this year.