1. Consider more landscapes, and less lawn: beneficial not just in less humdrum lawn, but better for habitat (less chems).

    April 10, 2019 by MAX
    Interesting article and numbers in this NYT article:
    By Ronda Kaysen
    Spring is here, and that means millions of Americans will soon be seeding, fertilizing and mowing their grass.
    America has a lot of lawns. Add them all together, and they’d cover an area roughly the size of Florida, making grass the most common irrigated plant in the country. And all that grass comes with an environmental cost.
    To keep weeds at bay, homeowners dumped around 59 million pounds of pesticides onto their residential landscapes in 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of those leach into the waterways, potentially exposing children and pets to harmful chemicals.
    Grass is thirsty, too. Americans use about 7 billion gallons of water a day, a third of all residential water consumption, to irrigate. Roughly half of that water is wasted because of runoff, evaporation or overwatering. And then there’s the mowing, edging and leaf blowing. According to a study by Quiet Communities, a nonprofit group, that equipment, mostly powered by gas, emitted 26.7 million tons of pollutants into the atmosphere in 2011. Those emissions contribute to climate change.
    Despite the time and resources needed to maintain a tidy lawn, they provide no habitat for bees, butterflies or the birds that feed on the insects.
    “Lawns are a significant environmental problem,” said David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. “We put in these lawns, and we basically turned these important habitats into dead zones.”
    The good news is: You don’t necessarily have to let your yard go wild, or dig the whole thing up to plant rocks, in order to lower your environmental impact.
    You can reduce your lawn by chipping away one weekend and one season a time, dedicating a few of the hours you might normally spend caring for your lawn to planting native grasses, shrubs, trees, flowers and food.
    Consider replacing some of that needy grass with a low-maintenance ground cover like clover, creeping thyme, mint or strawberry. You can also plant a tree and surround it with a bed of mulch. If you already have trees on your property, you could put in shade-loving plants — like hostas, ferns, impatiens and primrose — below the canopy.
    Before you head to the nursery to buy any new grass, plant, shrub or tree, try to choose something that’s native to your area and not an invasive species. If you’re not sure, punch your ZIP code into the Native Plant Finder, which is managed by the National Wildlife Federation.
    Another option for reducing lawn area is to start a flower bed or a kitchen garden. The beauty of these plots is that they can start small and expand a bit each season. Plus, they look great, you can get fresh food and herbs, and they’ll support butterflies, bees and birds.
    Whatever you plant, avoid pesticides and aerate the soil instead. Fertilize grass with leaf clippings and accept that you may need to coexist with dandelions. 
    landscape with no lawn
    Spring time in a near-lawn- less garden

    Bluebells and other bulbs, ephemerals etc will vanish by May, then mow as usual.

    Contact us about landscaping with less lawn, we have solutions!


  2. Witch-hazels: an overlooked shrub group

    March 31, 2019 by MAX

    The Witch-hazels are a fascinating group belonging to the family Hammemalis: found on several continents including North America with the fall blooming Hammemalis virginiana and the vernalis, a spring bloomer, both having a slight fragrance, both native to Illinois.

    A purple flowering type., seen in mid March.

    Photos here of blooms from plants at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and their extensive collection of Asian cross hybruds and a few cultivars from my own gardens here is West Chicago. . A fantastic and overlooked shrub group, with winter blooms, and fantrasitc fall colors. And an ideal plant for shade gardens and woodland setting, as they are understory species. Pollinators appreciate them as well!

    Missouri Botanical Gardens Witch-hazel collections
    maxlandscape company in Winfiled, West Chicago, Wheaton shade gardens and landscaping
    Native and ornamental witchhazels attract pollinators, especially important early in the season- as seen in this colorful landscape in West Chicago Wheaton area, see the hungry honeybee here. On March 12th.

    Hammemalis x Arnold Promise'
    Wonderful fall colors, with bright yellow blooms in winter!

    If you have that shade are and need a garden redo, now is the time to go!

    Landscape designs , woodland gardens, native species use, shade beds.



  3. Native trees of Illinois: The Famous White oak of McNab Illinois. The State Champion oak tree – and what a tree it is!

    January 18, 2019 by MAX
    White oak state champion tree seen by Ed Max in McNab Il, SW of Starved Rock.
    An incredible specimen. And the photo does not do justice. This White Oak 
    (native to Illinois and the Midwest ) is the largest of its species, 
    nearly 120 ft across!
    The white oak is a durable oak, and can grow to immense size as
    seen here. White oak or Quercus alba has a small acorn, and helps
    to support 100’s of species ; from mammals to fungi, to insects.
    And important species that we should be using much more in our
    urban and suburban landscapes, where space allows.
    A species for the future:
    As the climate continues to warm, the White oak may be a suitable landscape tree (native to the south), able to tolerate a tougher, drier, warmer climate going forward.





    Plant an oak today! Call Arborist Ed Max to set up a consultation on caring for your oaks, or for installing a few new red, bur or white oak, in your landscapes.


  4. The newest Illinois state champion tree: the lg. 200 year old Cottonwood near Byron Il. (plus the previous state champ…the giant bald cypress of the Shawnee, est to be nearly 1250 yrs old)

    January 3, 2019 by MAX

    The Champ- a huge, two-stemmed Cottonwood (Champ trees are determined by their height, trunk circumference, and crown spread (points x 3 categories) which totals to make this giant the largest tree in the state of Illinois.

    A Native Cottonwood- and largest tree of Illinois. There are dozens of native trees in Ill, and few grow the size of Cottonwoods, or as fast.
    Quite a giant; situated in a protected valley, near gravel prairies, and wind swept hilltops. An easy trip from the Chicagoland area. That’s me, Perspective: That’s me, Ed, in the pic….and Im 6ft 4″.

    Cottonwoods (Populus Deltoides) can grow to enormous size and usually the tallest trees of the urban forests and wilderness areas of the Chicagoland region. Perching birds (eagles, hawks, owls) can often be seen in tall cottonwoods as they are great vantage points for spying prey, and awesome roosts!
    Fond of water, they are usually found along stream beds or low-lying areas that rarely dry. Also found in the arroyos of the SW, and the wetlands of the east….a vast territory for this species.

    New clones of cottonwood can be found for sale, though usually male, so as not to create the dreaded ‘cotton’ plumes of summer.

    Discovered a few years ago, near the Bald Hill Prairie thus knocking out the Cache river Bald Cypress (seen below) ….another serious giant, found in the watery backwaters in the Cache (the everglades of the north) in the Shawnee N.F..

    The Cache swamps are the northerly- most naturally occuring wetlands containing bald cypress and tupelo in North America. Taxodium can be found all the way to the keys in So. Florida, and along the gulf. Their range can be extended north into southern Wisconsin if placed in the right conditions.

    In the Chicagoland area; cypress are popular as street trees, landscape specimens and a great tree for wet areas.

    They can grow for a millenia!

    Bald cypress are fond of water- and will grow for centuries, or perhaps thousands of years if lucky.
    State champ bald cypress Il, 36 ft circ. 1200 yr old! Seen here with some from the Illinois Native Plant Society Annual gathering in 2016.

  5. Coldest, snowiest, wettest fall in a century!

    December 3, 2018 by MAX

    Read on

    PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO/ROMEOVILLE IL
    1332 PM CST SAT DEC 1 2018

    …A Look Back at the Climate for Meteorological Fall (September,
    October, November) 2018 for Chicago and Rockford…

    At Chicago, the average high temperature for the fall season was
    59.3 degrees, which is 2.5 degrees below the 1981 to 2010 average.
    The average low temperature was 44.8 degrees, which is 1.6 degrees
    above normal. The mean temperature for the season was 52.1 degrees,
    which is 0.4 degrees below normal.

    A total of 11.68 inches of precipitation was recorded during this
    past fall, which is 2.17 inches above normal. There was a total of
    12.7 inches of snow recorded at Chicago, which is 11.3 inches above
    normal.

    Records established or tied during the fall months:

    September: Record daily high temperature of 93 degrees on the 20th.

    October: Record daily precipitation of 1.56 inches on the 1st.

    November: Record daily precipitation of 1.20 inches on the 26th.

    At Rockford, the average high temperature was 58.1 degrees, which is
    3.8 degrees below normal. The average low temperature was 40.8
    degrees, which is 0.3 of a degree below normal. The mean temperature
    for the season was 49.4 degrees, which is 2.1 degrees below normal.

    A total of 13.02 inches of precipitation was recorded during this
    past fall, which was 4.42 inches above normal. In addition, a total
    of 15.8 inches of snow was recorded, which is 14 Inches above normal.

    Records established or tied during the fall months:

    September: None.

    October: Record daily precipitation of 1.65 inches on the 1st.
    Record daily low temperature of 22 degrees tied on the 22nd.
    Record daily precipitation of 1.36 inches on the 30th.

    November: Record daily snowfall of 1.8 inches on the 9th.
    Record daily snowfall of 2.1 inches on the 17th.
    Record daily snowfall of 11.7 inches on the 25th.

    Record Snowfall of 15.8 inches for the fall season.

    (Thanks to the NWS)

     


  6. Illinois State Champion White Oak (Quercus a.) near McNabb, Il.

    May 2, 2017 by MAX

    What a monster! To stand near this great plant is awesome! Thought to be at least 350 to 400 yrs old. SW of Starved Rock in the entrance to a farmhouse, you too can see it, near the roadside.

    native oaks, record size trees of Illinois

    Record size state champ, White oak. A very lg. tree.

     

    Oaks are an important species in the Midwest and in the Chicagoland area. Encourage oak planting. Many species rely on the oak for food and shelter. The native population of most oak species is on the decline due to disease, changing climate and especially due to invasive species such as buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle. Little to no regeneration of oaks means that as the large specimens as een here decline, we stand to lose a true legacy tree of the Midwest. Red , bur and white oak were the oak species most common a century ago, when fire was a common occurrence on the prairie.

    Today, with lack of fire, they are losing ground. So plant an oak today!

     


  7. Dance of the Wood Betony (Pedicularis), a lovely parasitic native

    by MAX

    Native landscape by ed max, butterlfy gardens of wheaton, glen elly woodland native species, west chicago native landscapes, natural landscape by ed max,

    Swirling beauty! This semi parasitic native of our higher quality prairies is quite a sight in spring.   Easily spotted when little else is in bloom in the prairie or oak savanna.

    • Not a plant easily obtained. Not recommended for most gardens – just a fun plant worth knowing and looking for while hiking.
    • Always buy native species (especially rarer types) from known and reputable growers. Never dig plants (such as betony), as they will most likely drop dead upon arrival to your gardens!
    • Inquire for plant lists and growers whom are local.
    • Designer Ed Max is also cert naturalist plus cert arborist, and designs many gardens , woodlands, and other properties (both traditional and naturalistic) and meshes native with non-native species for wonderful and varied garden and landscape!

  8. A woodland garden comes into bloom

    April 30, 2017 by MAX

     

     

    wheaton il landscape comapnies, wheaotn il designers

    Shade gardens and wooded landscape renovations. Adding in azaleas, redbud, native perennials, and hydrangeas.

     

    shade gardens , bleeding heart,

    shade gardens , bleeding heart,


  9. Fine foliage of the Maidenhair Fern (seen in this Wheaton Il. shade garden)

    January 2, 2017 by MAX

    Woodland species, native ferns of the Chicagoland area, native landscapes by Ed Max and max's greener places

    Maidenhair fern has an unusual leaf, with black stems. Landscape designer Ed Max’s favorite native fern.

     

    Contact Max’s Greener Places for spring designs and installations!

     


  10. Snowdrops make an early winter appearance in this West Chicago wooded landscape!

    January 31, 2016 by MAX

    native landscapes of Wheaton, West Chicago landscape design, ed max design guy

    West Chicago landscape with Snowdrops peeking through the snow as of late January of 2016!

     

    Landscaping in the woodlands and shaded areas can be challenging. With the right plant combos, there will be color from late winter through fall.

    Call or email now for a landscape consultation and design.