Urban Rivers field trip

16 people gathered along the Chicago River by the Whole Foods at 1550 N. Kingsbury to hear Nick Wesley from Urban Rivers talk about the River and the efforts being made to make it clean, safe and useable.  He began by saying that numerous permits, requiring a lot of effort and patience, were required to even get started with the project.  He went on to talk about the need for the cleanup, namely that when there is an overflow of water in Chicago the city’s 2 water treatment plans allow raw waste into the river.  The city is taking steps to remediate this with adequate underground storage but that is still underway.  In the meantime Urban Rivers is using Phytoremediation which involves using plants and their associated microbes, to reduce the concentrations or toxic effects of contaminants in the environment. As the river water passes through “the Wild Mile’s root systems it will be filtered as the roots absorb the water, along with the substances in it.” (urbanriv.org)

So far plants have been in place on modules in the river for a year and four months.  The modules were assembled on land and anchored in place.  (See urbanriv.org for construction details.) Some of the plants in use are Hibiscus, Giant Ironweed, Spike Gayfeather, Canala Columbine, and Liatris Spicata.  These are plants identified by name markers.  To view a list of other plants used go to plants.urbanriv.org.

Vegetables were also planted and then tested for harmful results from the polluted water.  Surprisingly most of the vegetables tested were not contaminated except for Kale which had a high lead content. Trees which were planted and are being studied are River Birch and Paw Paw.

There are cameras checking the fish, birds, and wildlife inhabiting the area.

Nick discussed the Robot designed to clean up the River.  Hopefully by next year it will be actively cleaning up the debris on the River.

We’re Back!

The Garden Club started up its regular Wed @ noon monthly meetings again today (we break for the summer). I could only stay for the mixer + business meeting part before heading back to work, but the food was delicious (pesto-mayonnaise on the sandwiches was inspired, and that chocolate cake, yum), and Kathy English donated a host of dahlias and other gorgeousness from her garden.

SO SO PRETTY.

The speaker that I had to miss was going to talk about herbs, which looked really interesting. Next month will be a talk abut the do’s and don’t’s of putting your garden to bed — link to schedule in the comments. All are welcome to Garden Club meetings — you don’t have to be a paid member.

June Members’ Tea

Delightful Garden Club members’ tea on Wednesday, hosted at the Oak Park Art League. We ate, we drank, we chipped in a bit towards the ongoing garden renovation project at the art league, coordinated by Tracey Schroeder. Lovely start to summer.

Seed Starting

Thanks so much to Stephanie Wahlquist of West Cook Wild Ones for her terrific presentation on seed starting. I think I may get over my anxiety and just try starting some seeds this year. I hear zinnias are nice.