Native Plant Garden Weeding Event

Attendees learned about caring for native gardens at an event in the Arthington Mall Rain Gardens.

On a beautiful, sunny May morning, the Office of Planning, Sustainability, and Project Management (PSPM) held a hands-on workshop on caring for native prairie gardens to educate faculty and staff in the UIC on the maintenance of indigenous gardens.

The training was led by the University of Illinois Extension, including two master gardeners and U of I Extension educator Nancy Kreith. The master gardeners are trained horticultural experts who have volunteered to help us maintain these beautiful pollinator-friendly spaces.

Attendees included staff from PSPM and facilities management (grounds) and learned the difference between a native plant and a weed. Attendees were able to remove unwanted plants from the small meadow on campus and from the newly constructed rain gardens at the Arthington Mall.

In line with UIC’s Climate Action Plan (CAIP) Solution 4.3.1, the Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, and UIC’s Climate Commitments to become a Biodiverse Campus, UIC maintains and installs native plants on campus to expand pollinator habitats on campus. The deep roots of native plants also help the campus achieve its Net Zero Water goal of reducing stormwater runoff.

Most recently, the university renovated the Arthington Mall with rain gardens through the efforts of the Office of Planning, Sustainability, and Project Management (PSPM) and awards from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

The project addressed the goals of UIC’s Climate Commitments to provide a welcoming and hospitable space that retains rainwater on site and is a perfect habitat for local pollinators, helping to increase their populations and overall biodiversity.

The renovation installed over 21,000 square feet of native plant rain gardens with 45 different plant variations and 6,700 native plants in total, including pollinator-friendly plants such as black-eyed susans, prairie dock, milkweed, wild hyacinth and oriental redbud. These native plants provide habitat for pollinators and develop optimum growth solely from the amount of rainfall. Eastern bumblebees, green bees, calligrapher flies and monarch butterflies are frequent visitors to the gardens.

More than that, UIC is a recognized Bee Campus USA and in partnership with PSPM’s Sustainable Development Internship Program (SIP), there are many learning opportunities for UIC student interns to learn more on native plants and grasslands.

The Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan is a comprehensive plan that serves to educate the UIC community about designing and maintaining a pollinator-friendly landscape. Check out the plan to learn more about pollinators and celebrate National Pollinator Week with us June 21-27, 2021!

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Leon E. Hill