September 27, 2021

Midwest Gardeners Meet-Up at Kenosha

prairie blooms 1

For the past several years, a group of Midwestern garden bloggers and communicators has met at various locations to tour gardens, arboretums, and plant displays. We skipped last year because of COVID, and this growing season was challenging for some weather and personal reasons. But several of us met last week in Kenosha, Wis.: myself, Danniel Ward-Packard, of Botanica Fine Gardens and Landscapes, and Jason Kay and Judy Hertz, of Garden in a City. It was a small group and a cloudy, windy, cool day, but we had a great time and some fabulous discussions about plants.

The first stop was a hikeable portion of the Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area, which is part of a 4,500-acre lake plain in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. It was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance in 2015.

prairie blooms 2

It's a captivating place, with a diversity of wet prairie species, even though this has been a particularly hot and dry growing season. The natural swaths of asters, sunflowers, goldenrods, grasses, and other plants were fascinating to view.

lake michigan

Across the road on this windy day, the turbulent waves of Lake Michigan were dramatically lapping the shore.

So many autumn native plants to observe and so little time. I believe I have the names correct on these beauties, but let me know if not.

canada goldenrod
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

showy goldenrod
Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

ne asters
New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

sky blue asters
Sky Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense)

rough blazing star
Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

fringed gentian
Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita)

For lunch, we met at Kenosha's waterfront Eichelman and Wolfenbuttel Parks, which have some colorful annual displays.

park sign

park display 1

park display 5

The trellises and pergolas frame the park's Lake Michigan view and the nearby boat marina.

park display 4

park display 3

park display 2

They were lovely formal plantings surrounding the area.

Our final destination for the day was the Hawthorne Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum. I think this property surprised all of us with its 12 charming acres of prairies, gardens, and historic buildings.

prairie restoration

A small prairie restoration was in process.

old-fashioned rose

This beautiful unmarked rose reminded me of my great-grandfather's rose that he crossed for my great-grandmother.

swamp rose mallow

A vibrant, blooming Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) shrub couldn't be ignored.

foundation planting

This border along the side of one of the historical buildings was autumn-impressive, and had me wondering about its plant display during other seasons.

asters and sunflowers

On the way out, more asters and sunflowers took the spotlight.

It was a cloudy, windy day, but the companions and the gardens--both natural and intentionally planted--were top-tier.

I'm looking forward to next year's gardener gatherings!


  1. The natural spaces make my heart sing. Always encouraging to vegetation rehab.

    1. Yes, indeed. It gives us a glimpse of what our surroundings looked like before settlement. Like your part of the world, this was/is an diverse environment. Colder winters, but the beauty is consistent year-round.

    2. Have been thinking of you and Madison WI.
      Reading a novel about Mildred Fish-Harnack

  2. Absolutely glorious! What a great day and your photos are wonderful. It seems to me that there is more goldenrod around than usually this year - do you think so? It's everywhere and so vigorous.
    Thank you for a great fall tour of these magical places.

    1. Thanks, Lee. The Goldenrod seems about the same as usual, but it's dryer here because we've had a moderate to severe drought all summer. The Goldenrod is already drying up. Thankfully, it looks like we'll get a little more rain this weekend. :)

  3. I'm glad you managed a get-together, even if on a relatively small scale, Beth. Thank you for sharing the beautiful colors of early fall in the Midwest! The gentian is spectacular.

    1. Yes, it was a fun, little group, and great discussions! You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I hated to miss this one. Love seeing your pictures.

    1. I wish we all could make all the gatherings, but sometimes life has other plans. I hope to see you next year, Lisa. :)

  5. Wish I could have joined all of you on this enjoyable excursion. Thanks for taking us along with your photo and story.

    1. All gardener and garden blogger/communicator events have been fantastic, in my experience. I hope you and I will attend some together in the future. :)

  6. YAY... what a fun time. I spotted a Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita)along a river trail not far from my home. Are they rare to find? It was the first I have ever spotted it.

    1. Yes, it was great fun! I'll add you to the Facebook group, if you're interested? I have rarely found the Fringed Gentians in the wild, but prairie walks this time of year sometimes yield happy results. :)

  7. I have seen the Canadian Goldenrod here but looked at mine after seeing your pictures. I'm not sure which variety is in my fence row. Hmm.

    1. So many beautiful goldenrods! They're starting to fade now in S. Wisconsin. Still lots of asters blooming, though, and it's so warm for October!

  8. Sounds like a fun outing, here's looking to next year and the Fling!

    1. It's a fun group, and we do some fun stuff. Fingers crossed for the June 2022 Fling!

  9. Oh it looks lovely! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tour!


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