Native plant sale moves to Illinois State Fairgrounds
The State Journal-Register
The Illinois Native Plant Society’s annual plant sale will be at a new venue this year.
This year’s sale will be held Saturday at the Commodity Pavilion, across from the Grandstand, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Plant sale chair Mary Ring said the sale outgrew its former location at the Washington Park Botanical Garden.
“We wanted to expand both the number and selection of native trees and shrubs,” Ring said. “So we looked around quite a bit, and the facilities at the fairgrounds seemed to be the best.
“We’ll miss the Botanical Garden,” she said. “We hope it will be nice at the fairgrounds this weekend.”
Proceeds from the annual sale go to fund the society’s grant program, which provides funds to schools, other nonprofits, scout groups and others wishing to establish native plantings, like prairie restorations, butterfly gardens and other projects.
The grant program is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“There have been 33 grants given out over the life of the program, adding up to more than $25,000,” said grants chair Edie Sternberg. “We try to give five or six grants a year.”
Dollars raised by the plant sale also assist other groups.
“We have made several contributions to other organizations for the restoration of habitats, such as Plum Island at Starved Rock,” she said.
Plum Island is located in the Illinois River near the lock and dam. The Illinois Audubon Society has been restoring the island, where bald eagles often perch during the winter months.
The sale features plants grown by members, supplemented with those from regional nurseries.
“Lois Fox and Henry Eilers still are growing most of the wildflowers,” Ring said.
Ring said expanded offerings will include shrubs and trees, such as hazelnut, pawpaw, beech, and others.
“We also will have a nice selection of oaks, sassafras and persimmon,” she said. “Plus there will be some of Guy Sternberg’s rare and unique potted trees.”
Guy and Edie Sternberg own Starhill Forest Arboretum outside Petersburg.
Guy Sternberg said he initially tried to bring some of his potted trees into town ahead of time to spread out the workload.
But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.
“We brought the trees into town and stored them at one of the member’s homes,” Guy said. “Then they woke up one morning and the squirrels had uprooted about half of them.
“If it’s not drought, it’s squirrels.”
Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528.
Want to go?
What: Illinois Native Plant Society annual plant sale
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Commodity Pavilion, Illinois State Fairgrounds