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Walks on the Wild Side

Natural Yard Tours 2019

Every year the WPPC offers garden walks of various Native Gardens in the greater
McHenry County area. These walks are a great way to learn about native plants, get design ideas for your garden and ask questions!

Sneak peeks of the yards will also be posted as events on our Facebook page.
Invite friends to join you!


Two Walks!
Saturday, May 18

Ken and Deb Behnke — 10:00 A.M.
1248 Hillside View, Algonquin

The native garden of Ken and Deb Behnke is about a quarter acre suburban yard. The hillside yard consists of about 75% to 80% native plants among several habitats. They have a rain garden, a prairie garden, a shade garden and an easy care Koi pond with an 8 foot waterfall. The wooded shade garden will take center stage. Deb has raised hundreds of monarch butterflies from the egg stage for release. She finds the eggs on the many milkweeds that are growing on their property.

Added note: Deb is the book sale chairman for the WPPC - so you may want to thank her for the great selection and prices. Ken is her main help with the book transportation- so you may want to ask “ how's your back, Ken?”.

Directions: From the intersection of Rt. 31 and Rt. 62 go south on Rt. 31 past Edgewood, to Beach St. and turn right (west), go two blocks and turn left (south) unto Hillside View. Their home is halfway up the hill on the right side. Parking is on the road.

Second Walk:
“A Walk in Webster Woods” — 11:15 A.M.

Cynthia Webster Kanner
920 Susan Court, Algonquin

Welcome to the woodland native plant walk in the backyard of our 3/4 acre property. My husband, Gary, and I moved to this awesome river town in 2000 and chose our home for the eleven beautiful mature bur oak trees growing on our property. We named it Webster Woods after my maiden name. Now amidst the oaks is a native woodland garden that was started about a dozen years ago, thanks to the WPPC, and my mentor Sandy Sjoblom. Early spring brings blood root and as the season continues, spring beauty, Solomon seal, shooting star, Virginia bluebell, trillium, Jacobs ladder, Columbine, wild ginger, wild geranium and more. There is a small memorial garden in the center of Webster Woods to honor the memory of my mother who instilled a love of the outdoors in all her children. Many of her favorite flowers are growing there. Hope to see you outback!
— Cynthia

Added note: Cynthia who is a passionate advocate for a healthy environment is the Executive Director, Environmental Defenders of McHenry County.

Directions: From Benke's, turn right onto Beach St. then turn left (north) onto Rt. 31. At the intersection with Rt. 62 (Algonquin Rd) turn right (east) on go over the the Fox river bridge and continue to Sandbloom, turn right (a Merlin's and Walgreen’s is on the corner). The fourth right will be Souwanas Trail, turn right and then an immediate right onto Susan Ct. Our home is Wedgewood blue with a red roof.


Saturday, June 29 • 10:00 A.M.

Carol & David Rice
170 West Highway 22, Barrington

Come explore a variety of habitats on our five-acre property. We have been working to restore our oak woods for over 30 years, adding additional native forbs and woody species every year. More recently, we have established three large prairie gardens, each with a different composition. The oldest of these was planted in 2005. If our timing is right, at least one of the gardens should provide us with a glorious display. The gardens were established with both native seed and plugs. Our property is now home to about 300 native species. Restoration is a continuing effort, and every year brings new and exciting surprises!

Added note: The WPPC's very successful “A Natural Garden in Your Yard” (homeowner mentoring program) is the brain child of Carol. With her dedicated leadership over 200 people have gone through the program!

Directions: The driveway is the fourth driveway west of Highway 59 on the north side of Rt. 22. We are the second house on the driveway. If you are coming from the west, our driveway is the one east of the entrance for Oaks and Pond. You can park alongside the driveway as you come into the property, or pull off onto the grass. We’ll help direct you once you get here. Look for a WPPC walk sign at the entrance.


Sunday, July 21 • 1:00 P.M.

Jim May & Nan Seidler
9519 Wright Road, Harvard

Jim May (renown storyteller and author) and Nan Seidler (talented visual artist) live in Alden Township along 1300 feet of the Nippersink Creek headwaters. The land includes a restored prairie, a remnant shagbark hickory woods, and sustainable farmland and pasture. The restored prairie contains rattlesnake master, prairie dock, wild indigo, yellow & purple cone flowers , big blue stem grass and more. The land has been put into a The Land Conservancy of McHenry County easement that includes native restoration, but allows for sustainable farming. Jim and Nan have lived on the property since 1989. Their house is constructed from a circa 1850's post and beam dairy barn that their builder moved from Arlington, Wis. - 46' x 36' beams. ALL SINGLE SPAN, no joints and hand hewed.

Directions: Take Alden Rd to Rt. 173, west 1/2 mile to Oak Grove Rd., turn right, 1/2 mile to Wright Rd, turn right 1/2 mile to top of hill. Second driveway on the left. Be careful, the road is rough and sometimes washed out, and the driveway is narrow.


Two Walks!
Saturday, August 10

Judy Woodson — 10:00 A.M.
620 Barbary, Woodstock

I was so fortunate 5 years ago to find my new home next to a Land Conservancy natural wetland. However, I couldn't see into the wetland because of buckthorn and thistle. My yard also, contained three islands of non native shrubs and garden perennials--Stella de Oro daylilies galore! My first project was to remove the offending buckthorn. With the help of my son, grandsons and mainly The Land Conservancy of McHenry County all the buckthorn are gone from my area. Thistle control is ongoing. During this time I started to replace the islands of cultivated plants with natives. I joined the WPPC mentoring program and with the help of Pat Sullivan-Schroyer I now have hazelnut, prairie drop seed, purple prairie clover, butterfly milkweed and many more natives. I spread the seeds from my natives along the wetland edge. I am visited by monarch butterflies, sand hill cranes, blue herons, egrets and many species of birds. Working outside is my joy!

Added note: Judy is the mother of Brad Woodson, a certified wildlife biologist, who works as an ecologist for McHenry County Conservation District.

Directions: Turn north at the intersection of 47 & 14 into Woodstock. Turn left on Southview Dr. just past Bull Valley Ford dealership. Turn right onto Savanna Ln. Savanna becomes Barbary Ln. 620 Barbary is on the left just beyond the wetland.

Second Walk — 11:15 A.M.

Scott Kuykendall - Water Specialist
McHenry County Planning and Development Administrative Center
667 Ware Rd, Woodstock

In 2011, McHenry County converted areas of conventional turf grass near the entrance of the McHenry County Administrative Building to native plant species as part of xeriscaping and rain garden demonstration projects. The intention of the county is to provide an attractive landscape feature on publicly accessible property that showcases the beauty of native plants and inspires others to incorporate native plants into their own landscaping. In 2018 the Wildflower Propagation and Preservation Committee donated 300 plugs to increase the diversity. The high visibility of the native plantings at the entrance is an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of using native plants for the benefit they provide for both water retention and flood control. The gardens have become a pollinator haven!

Directions: Go north from Woodstock on Rt. 47. Pass the McHenry County Court House, Turn Right (east) onto Ware Rd. Building will be on the left.


Sunday, September 8 • 1:00 P.M.

Ders Anderson
Twin Creeks Conservation Area
Twin Creeks Rd. and Thomas Rd., Woodstock

The Twin Creeks tour will visit the protected conservation areas within the Twin Creeks development. Openlands purchased the development property which stalled during the 2008 recession, and immediately transferred strategic acreage to the McHenry County Conservation District so that it could connect separate land holdings and create a significant greenway corridor along Nippersink Creek. Openlands is currently marketing several remaining lots to recapture its acquisition costs. The 3/4 mile walk will visit: 1) a north facing oak savanna with possibly the only known population of beak grass in McHenry County, 2) a prairie restoration protected by a conservation easement at the rear of several yet to be built on lots, and 3) Nippersink Creek,where Openlands has accomplished fish and mussel surveys. Invasive colonies of brush have been removed.

Directions: From Woodstock, take Rt 47 north to Allendale Rd. Turn right (east) onto Allendale and take it to Queen Anne Rd. Turn right (south) on Queen Anne Rd. and you will see the entrance to Twin Creeks in about 1/2 mile, shortly after you cross Nippersink Creek. If you pass Avang Rd. you've gone too far. The entrance is landscaped and has two stone signs that say "Twin Creeks". Turn left (east) at the entrance onto Twin Creeks Rd. Park anywhere along Twin Creeks Rd. G.P.S. coordinates are 42.392976., 88.413303.