Tour An Illinois Woodland Garden
Continuing to learn
Barbara's garden thrives in part due to knowledge gained volunteering with ecologist Jim Steffen on a major woodland restoration project at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. She learned not to fuss with woodland soil; cultivating and fertilizing actually encourage weeds and weaken the natives. Spreading finely shredded leaves is OK, she says, but gardeners should pick up heavy leaf litter to eliminate cover for root-munching rodents.
The learning process continues as Barbara develops more of the acreage, including areas that aren't wooded: two rock gardens, several ponds and an acre of tallgrass prairie.
The landscape is beautiful any season, but when the woods reawaken in spring, the Wetzels leisurely wander the paths daily with their pets to see what wonders have emerged. "Bob really hates to garden," Barbara says with a laugh, "but we all love to walk in the woods."
Pictured: Barbara's collection of unique sculptures dots the floral landscapes.