The Wild Ones Tour

The Wild Ones Tour

By By Rod Myers, Naturalist

See the Rockford area’s smartest lawns by going on the Rock River Chapter of The Wild Ones Annual Yard Tour. The Rock River Chapter is one of 39 chapters of the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, a national nonprofit organization whose missions are to promote native plant natural landscaping, educate and share information with members and community at the “plants roots” level and to promote bidoversity and environmentally sound practices. The Wild Ones Tour goes a long way toward fulfilling the organization’s missions.

The native landscaping tour is this area’s chapter’s premier event, and July 27th marks the occasion with 8 a.m. being lift-off time. The biodiversity tour bus departs from the Cherry Valley Village Hall, 806 E. State St., Cherry Valley, Ill. The bus will stop at six locations, most of which are people’s yards. The locations are chosen for reasons of diverse native plant beauty and the diverse wildlife drawn to them. No stop on the tour magnifies plants only, though; inside the pictured frame waves a flowered landscape title.

Yours truly’s yard is on the tour, and I’m currently spending two hours out on the patio gearing up for this article. I’ll start off by letting two of my yard friends tell you their impression of the natural yard landscape I dwell near.

“Great buzz, great buzz;” “great chirp, great chirp.” That was Mr. Bee and Mrs. Bird, and they think it’s great.

Though a few would view the tour yards as being untamed, too tall or lazy, wildly uncool and stupid, the truth is, these yards are SMART. They’re smart because they don’t require pesticides and herbicides, both of which are costly in terms of dollars and health. Did you ever see a bird at a feeder with a tumor on its head or an extra beak above its regular beak? Pesticides and herbicides cause deformities like this, and there’s strong data indicating they cause certain cancers in humans. Smart yards require little or no watering—a quality ever so alluring this time of year.

Let’s get back to my yard. My leashed cat, named Roomie, and I are side by side on the patio. Roomie sees tenfold more than I, but he’s got cat eyes. We both see the barn swallow toiling in the sky, yet Roomie is visually documenting each of the vast number of diverse insects that have wafted skyward from our diverse yard onto the swallow’s aerial dinner plate. Now Roomie is perking his ears; no doubt he’s listening to the shrieks and squeals of voles and shrews. He’s tuning in the whispers of mice and other non-men.

The point I’m trying to make is that smart yards are biologically diverse, and that’s the smartest feature. Yonder, just off the patio, a song sparrow inches his way up a tasseled stalk of cord grass. “Oops!” says the bird riding the stalk as it bends. I think they do that just for the ride; it’s kind of a bird bungee thing.

If you’re interested in the tour, contact Mary Anne Mathwich at (815) 332-4367. The sign-up deadline is July 24th.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, The Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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