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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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Monday - May 29, 2006

From: Rockford, IL, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Native plants for wildlife gardening in Illinois
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I live in Rockford, Illinois. Where/How can I find information on native flowers, plants, trees, grasses and animals, and other things I can plant on our property (about an acre) to provide a home for our native animals and insects etc...?

ANSWER:

Our Native Plant Information Network page can help with information about plants native to your area. If you do a combination search there, you can enter the name of your state plus the specific conditions of your site, like moisture level and light level, along with plant type preferences, and a list should come up of native plants that fit your criteria.

Once you learn the names of some of the basic plants native to your locale, you can enter their scientific or common names into our Native Plants Database to get to information about the plants. Once you get to the information page for a specific plant, if you click on the Uses link near the top of the screen, any information we have about wildlife uses should appear. An internet search using the plants' scientific or common names will also bring up information about benefits to wildlife.

Contacting your local native plant society or Wild Ones chapter will also help, and the National Wildlife Federation has a longstanding backyard habitat program that can provide some pointers. Local Audubon Society chapters can provide good information, and Chicago Wilderness magazine has some good suggestions and helpful links as well.
 

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