by Tammy Swanson
SUGAR GROVEâ€”The Sugar Grove Public Library has had a well-kept secret, one that is growing and ever changing. But now the library wants everyone to know its secretâ€”a garden of native prairie plants.
Located on the west side of the new library, the garden showcases the types of flowers and other plants that graced Illinoisâ€™ open land hundreds of years ago. Library officials chose a native prairie design for the grounds to enhance the new buildingâ€™s architecture.
â€œWhen we were making the building design plan, we wanted to incorporate landscape around the building that was complementary to the designs that we had that were sort of a barn and farmyard atmosphere,â€ Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes said. â€œWe wanted to use native plantings as much as possible and incorporate some trees that are not as common in someone’s backyard.â€
The garden is a combination of native Illinois grasses, shrubs, trees and wild flowers. Bachelor buttons, shrub roses, corn poppies, larkspur and showy goldeneye are just a few of the wild flowers patrons can see as they walk or drive past the garden.
Holmes Hughes describes the garden as an evolving ecosystem.
â€œIt just really changes its aspect day to day, as different flowers come into different growth stages,â€ she said. â€œIt’s gone through almost a color wave.â€
Patrons and other visitors to the library can enjoy the garden in every season.
“With the native growth area, the intent being that the taller grasses are visible as a winter landscape as they catch or hold the snow,â€ Holmes Hughes said. â€œIt is really a year-round event.”
Karen Benesch, a library volunteer with a horticultural degree, helped identify and photograph the wild flowers in the garden.
“It was starting to grow, and we weren’t really certain what were weeds, what would grow into plants,â€ Holmes Hughes said. â€œWe were looking for some expert opinion on that. Karen volunteered to come out and take photographs and identify them for us.”
The result was a book available for patrons to view anytime at the Adult Ask Me Desk. The book has increased patronsâ€™ awareness of the garden.
“It has been popular,â€ Holmes Hughes said. â€œPeople who enjoy gardening and maybe don’t have the space to garden anymore really enjoy coming to see the flowers.â€