Blog

This Week in the Prairie Patch: August 30-September 5

Sunflowers are the plants to 'see' this month for our Sensory Garden. Look for the blue signs to help guide your sensory experience .

Plant Updates: Despite our garden team's hard work, the heat and lack of rain has definitely gotten to a few of our plants, especially the squash and cucumbers. There are still blossoms and small fruits growing on these plants but we have seen the loss of foliage and vines. Did you know squash and cucumbers are related? They are both members of the gourd family and botanically both are considered fruit, even though they are often considered vegetables. 

In good gardening news, we have several types of peppers now visibly bearing fruit and our tomatoes continue to ripen. Garden Giveaways remain available in the lobby. Our harvest days are typically Monday, Wednesday, Saturday.

Book Recommendations:

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest

The Joy of Pickling

Ultimate Book of Step-by-Step Cooking and Gardening Projects for Kids

Share Your Prairie Patch Story:

Did you have a memorable experience in the Prairie Patch this summer? Reading in the shade, eating ice cream on a bench, playing in the Mud Kitchen? We're harvesting highlights to share on the blog the end of the season. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your story.

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



This Week in the Prairie Patch: July 26-August 1

View the Prairie Patch Art Show: We are excited to showcase art from patrons of all ages. Now in the garden through August 1.

Garden Giveaway: Available daily in the library's lobby.

Meet the Garden Team: The Prairie Patch is maintained by a handful of IPPL staff and community volunteers. Each week, we will share information about a different team member. This week, meet Cathy!

Role: Garden volunteer and Darien Garden Club ambassador to IPPL

Where are you from: Darien

How long have you been a library patron? – since 1991 almost 30 years

What do you like about gardening?: I love many aspects of gardening; food production (nothing like a fresh garden tomato or broccoli harvested until Nov), creating wildlife and pollinator habitat with native trees, shrubs and plants in my suburban yard, sharing plants, knowledge and enthusiasm with others especially the next generation of gardeners, learning something new every day about growing and caring for the garden as well as about the garden visitors and their role in pollination and pest control.

What are your favorite gardening books? I love to cook with fresh produce so I recommend: From Asparagus to Zucchini (Jones Books – MACSAC) to get you started and to answer the question "What do you do with swiss chard? And others?

What is your favorite thing to grow? – Dahlias! Also, perennial and annual sunflowers, zinnias, tomato, and any and all native plants.

Do you have a favorite gardening quote or phrase? I have a few:

"The earth laughs in flowers." E E Cummings

"Tickle the earth with a hoe, it will laugh a harvest." Mary Cantell

"All gardens are a form of autobiography." Robert Dash

If you are interested in helping us in the garden this summer, please contact Natalie Williams about volunteering: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Book Recommendations:

Prairie Dog Song: The key to saving North America's grasslands

Q&A About Plants

STEM Kit: Plant Cell

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

This Week in the Prairie Patch: July 19- 25

We are starting to harvest the garden! This week we have picked summer squash and lots of herbs. With this bounty, we're starting the Garden Giveaways. For your health and safety, our giveaways will be different from previous years. For details see below:

Free for you!

      • This food was grown organically in the Prairie Patch, IPPL's community garden.
      • Food is harvested throughout the week as it ripens.
      • Stop by the designated table on the first floor anytime the library is open to see which herbs and veggies are available.

      • For your safety…
      • Masks are required
      • Please practice social distancing
      • Wash your hands and any food that you take home
      • Please don't touch anything you won't keep

Join us for the Prairie Patch Art Show: Calling all artists, reserve your blank yard sign by emailing your name and contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Pick up a sign this week (one per family) and decorate with waterproof materials (permanent markers, oil pastels, acrylic paint, etc.). Bring it back to the library by Thursday, July 23 to be displayed in the Prairie Patch the week of July 26.

Meet the Garden Team: The Prairie Patch is maintained by a handful of IPPL staff and community volunteers. Each week, we will share information about a different team member. This week, meet Monica!

Name: Monica Dzierzbicki

Role: Youth Services Librarian/Mid-Kids Specialist

Where are you from? Illinois

How long have you been a patron? I've worked at IPPL for over 20 years.

What do you like about gardening? Gardening connects me with the principles of peace, community, nourishment and respect for all living things.

What are your favorite gardening books? There are way too many 🙂

  • Non-Fiction Titles: (newest reads)

Garden DIY: 25 fun-to-make projects for an attractive and productive garden by Daniel Johnson (2020)

The little gardener: helping children connect with the natural world. by Julie Cerny (2020)

In the Garden by Emma Guiliani (2020, Great book to share with kids, but so full of information for anyone. It shows the full range of the growing seasons in great detail.)

  • Non-Fiction Titles: (tried and true)

Ready, set, grow! a kid's guide to gardening by Rebecca Hershey (1995)

The ultimate step-by-step kids' first gardening book by Jenny Hendy (2010)

Up in the garden and down in the dirt by Kate Messner (2015

If you are interested in helping us in the garden this summer, please contact Natalie Williams about volunteering: nataliew@ippl.info

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: nataliew@ippl.info

This Week in the Prairie Patch: July 5-11

Early evening is a great time to visit the Prairie Patch.

Now that the library is open, no visit is complete without a walk through the Prairie Patch. The sunny weather and our awesome watering team have worked together to help make all of the plants explode in growth. We have several visible summer squashes growing, lots of tomatoes with blossoms, flowers on the butterfly bush, and fresh herbs like dill, chives, mint and chamomile. See last week's post for a map of the garden.

Also, we have several Kids + Teens programs scheduled in the Prairie Patch, including a Mud Kitchen, STEM in the Prairie Patch, Birdwatchers Meetup and Water Balloon Olympics. Click here for schedules and registration information.

Sensory Garden:

Our newest sensory garden features include listening for a wind chime, touching the lambs' ear and looking at the tall yellow hollyhock.

Weekly Garden Giveaways: We hope to start these soon!

Book Recommendations:

Fiction:

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems

A Lullaby of Summer Things

The Shell Seekers

Non Fiction:

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

Born to be wild : Hundreds of Free Nature Activities for Families


Seed Library:

It isn't too late to plant your own garden! If you are interested in getting seeds from our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Volunteering:

If you are interested in helping us in the garden this summer, please contact Natalie Williams about volunteering: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


​This Week in the Prairie Patch: May 31-June 6

Plant Updates

Fans of the Prairie Patch will be happy to know that the garden's progress has not been slowed by Covid-19. There are a variety of perennial plants and bulbs already growing and blooming, and we will have other new seedlings planted in the garden in the next few weeks. Our globe alliums started blooming last week and you can experience them in addition to the rest of this summer's first Sensory Garden tour. Look for the blue signs throughout the garden to see what to hear, see, taste, smell and touch.

Weekly Garden Giveaways will be announced soon. Last year we gave away over 120 pounds of food to patrons and neighbors and we're excited to see what this year's bounty will provide.

EBook Recommendations

Non-Fiction

Kitchen Garden Revival
Common Backyard Weeds of the Upper Midwest
Gardening Lab for Kids 

Fiction

Grandpa's Garden 
The Secret Garden 
A Victory Garden for Trying Times

Volunteer Opportunities for the Garden: If you are interested in helping us in the garden this summer, please contact Natalie Williams about volunteeringnThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.