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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Saturday - November 30, 2013

From: Naperville, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Wildlife and bird friendly hedgerow for Chicago suburb
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Want to plant a wildlife/bird friendly hedgerow in suburban Chicago. Looking for a recommended mix of understory trees as well a shrubs and grasses. Site is part shade with average to wet soil and transitions to a mature Oak/Hickory woodland. Length is 100' x 20'wide.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that you visit our Recommended Species page to choose Illinois from the map to find the Illinois Recommended list of commercially available native plants suitable for landscaping in your state.   The list contains more than 170 species which include trees, shrubs, herbs, etc.   You can limit the list by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option in the sidebar and choosing the type of plant you are interested in from General Appearance, Light Requirement, Soil Moisture, etc.  Here are a few selections from this list:

Shrubs or Small Tree

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Cornus racemosa (Gray dogwood)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Corylus americana (American hazelnut)

Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry)

Grasses

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

You can find more possibilities by performing your own search in the Illinois Recommended list.  On each species page you can scroll down the page to the BENEFIT section to see what wildlife makes use of the plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Gray dogwood
Cornus racemosa

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

American hazelnut
Corylus americana

Late lowbush blueberry
Vaccinium angustifolium

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

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