Funding Amount: $20,000
The University of Illinois Arboretum has historically showcased formal displays of annual ornamental plants and selected trees. There is increased interest in developing plots and displays of native plants, especially those that are beneficial to pollinators. This project will introduce a variety of such native plants into several settings at the Arboretum. The Arboretum intends to use the plantings as an outdoor laboratory that will be used for formal and informal education about the role of native plants in provision of ecosystem services such as pollination adn improving soil quality. The experience gained will lay the ground work for future expansion of the concept including large plantings within selected locations and patches of clearly labeled plants that will allow visitors to learn their names and characteristics.
The plantings will also provide physical examples of how small plantings can be used in personal and commercial landscapes. The use of perennial native plants will help the Arboretum assess the potential to save money and other resources by using more plants that do not have to be repurchased and replanted annually. The native plants along with improved habitat conditions will support a large number of local pollinators and other insect and bird species that are increasingly threatened by loss of habitat, and provide an instructional resource for university classes and local schools.