ust down the road from Ravinia Park is another true oasis in the urban landscape. Considered one of the nation's finest botanic gardens, the Chicago Botanic Garden boasts a plant collection of over two million specimens and an education program that teaches thousands of horticultural professionals and plant conservation scientists each year. And, its hundreds of offerings through the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden inspires home gardeners with tips on how to make their own gardens more vibrant and healthy.
But did you know that this 385-acre, publicly owned museum is nearly one-quarter water? Set amidst the 23 formal gardens and three native habitat areas are 60 acres of lakes. And yes, a river does run through it—the Skokie River, that is.
Over the past five years the Garden has been transforming its lakeshores from slumping and eroded banks nearly devoid of wildlife habitat, to more gently sloped shorelines that are teeming with frogs, turtles, and fish. The Garden's environmental scientists are literally putting aquatic plants to work using "bioengineering" restoration techniques to hold shoreline soils in place and create healthy habitat that supports a rich diversity of aquatic life. Amazingly, since 2001, nearly one-quarter million plants have been added along the Garden's lakeshores.
Interpretation stations set along the rejuvenated lakeshores help visitors better understand how these innovative conservation programs work, as well as actions they can take at home to support water preservation efforts. In fact, significant support for the Garden's environmental programs has come from the U.S. and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies. These public funds have been directed to the Garden so that visitors (such as you!) can witness first-hand how working with nature can lead to sustainable, long term improvements for our waterways.
Fondly called "The Garden on the Water," you're encouraged to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden soon. For more information, including education program offerings, visit www.chicagobotanic.org
For more information, visit www.chicagobotanic.org.
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