Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Botanic Garden’

On the Air: Soil 101 Can Turn Any Thumb Green

Posted by Daisy Simmons on

The long, harsh winter may have delayed things a bit, but it’s now time to get moving on your garden. For this week’s EcoMyths segment on Worldview, Lauren Umek of Northwestern University/Chicago Botanic Garden and Bryant Scharenbroch of the Morton Arboretum, joined us in studio to tell us why soil matters in cultivating your green thumb.

WBEZ April 29, 2014 002 As part of our partnership with Chicago Public Media, this content also appears on the WBEZ Worldview page.

Learning to Save Water – and Love Nature – at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Posted by Mary Beth Sammons on
Rylee is a big fan of the Krasberg Rose Garden fountain at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Rylee and I are big fans of the Krasberg Rose Garden fountain at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Growing up in Northbrook during the 1960s, I often took for granted the simple pleasures that many of us enjoyed during our childhood, such as running through the sprinklers and splashing around in our neighbor’s built-in pool, which was always filled to the brim. My parents were very mindful of the environment, but water conservation just wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t even know it was an environmental issue.

Riding our bikes east on Dundee Road, my friends and I would pass the mountains of mud that were just a vision of the magnificent living museum the Chicago Botanic Garden has become today. We’d glance at it quickly, then pedal our bikes onward to Glencoe Beach where we spent most summer days, swimming and crushing on the lifeguards. Summers were all about water play.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized my children and grandchildren might experience a water crisis. (more…)

The Bee Chronicles 2: Pollination Nation

Posted by Daisy Simmons on

Why pledge allegiance to bees? For starters, they’re among the most important pollinators we’ve got. Check out the latest installment of The Bee Chronicles, to see Chicago Botanic Garden bee expert Becky Tonietto school EcoMyths’ own inimitably inquisitive Cliff Miller on pollination.

Pollination Nation from ecomyths alliance on Vimeo.

This is the second of three in this video series (here’s the first one!), so please stay tuned for more forays into the marvelous world of bees.

Myth: All Bees Sting

Posted by Daisy Simmons on

Buzz-kill: Afraid Bees Are Out to Sting You?

It’s criminal—every day, in yards, picnic areas, and outdoor cafes across the country, scary bees stalk unsuspecting humans, slap-happy with sting power and thirsty for blood. Or…at least that’s how lots of people think of bees. Who among us has not frozen in cartoonish fear at the sound of a nearby buzz? Bug scientists, however, say we’re wrong to give bees such a bum rap.

A little sniffing around shows the odds of getting stung by bees are pretty slim. Experts report that virtually all bees one is likely to encounter flying from flower to flower are non-aggressive, and only 50 percent (i.e., only the females) have the capacity to sting in the first place. In fact, most stings don’t come from bees at all—they’re much more likely to come from yellowjackets, or, to a lesser degree, hornets or paper wasps.

Moreover, bees are a critical part of our food chain: They pollinate one in three foods we eat, after all. (more…)

On the Air: A Honey of a Tale

Posted by Kate Sackman on

Did you know that one out of every three bites of food you eat was created, at least in part, by the pollination of a bee? Really, one third! I was startled to learn this and many other surprising facts from the bee scientists I have had the pleasure to get to know recently.

This summer I followed around an enthusiastic ecologist from the Chicago Botanic Garden, Rebecca Tonietto, who studies native bees. She is a PhD candidate in the conservation graduate program offered jointly by the Garden and Northwestern University. Her research focuses on how different restoration practices and landscapes impact different species of bees. Since there are more than 500 species of bees in Illinois, that is a tall order! (more…)

The Bee Chronicles: There’s a Bee in My Bonnet

Posted by Daisy Simmons on

You better bee-lieve we’re proud to present the very first EcoMyths video, starring Chicago Botanic Garden bee expert Becky Tonietto and the inimitable landscape designer Cliff Miller as they discuss the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, bees are definitely not out to sting us. This is the first of three in The Bee Chronicles series, which takes intrepid viewers on a journey through the marvelous world of bees. Please enjoy, share, and stay tuned for the next installment!

There’s a Bee in My Bonnet from ecomyths alliance on Vimeo.

Huge thanks to Becky, Cliff, and superstar editor Megan Erskine for making this video magic happen.

Project BudBurst: Tapping Into the Community for Plant Science Progress

Posted by EcoMyths Alliance on

—by Kay Havens, director of plant science and conservation, Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden grad students test the new Project BudBurst smart phone app.

Having grown up in the Chicago area, I’ve always eagerly awaited those first signs of spring, from red maple buds swelling to the first crocus and pussy willows blooming. As a child, I remember feeling lucky if the lilacs were open on Mother’s Day, so I could pick some for my mom. Lately they’ve routinely started flowering in April, and in this remarkably early year, I saw some varieties open in late March. Now I’m pleased to report that there is a great new way that individuals can share observations like this to push conservation science forward. (more…)

Myth: The Mighty Oak Will Always Flourish in Illinois

Posted by Daisy Simmons on

Root for the Home Team: How and Why to Support Local Oak Trees

Strength, protection, endurance, Chardonnay…these are all words associated with the mighty oak. In Illinois, we love the acorn-bearer so much that we named one of them our official state tree. (That would be the white oak, or Quercus alba for you crossword fans.) For many of us, an oak-lined street or oak-dotted prairie is one of the most iconic features of the Illinois landscape. But are oaks as mighty as they appear? And can we count on them to maintain their local grandeur for the generations to come?

We chatted with a trio of experts on the subject—the Morton Arboretum’s Forest Ecologist Bob Fahey, PhD, Plant Systematist and Herbarium Curator Andrew Hipp, PhD, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International’s Executive Director Andrea Kramer, PhD—who all agree that we can’t expect our oak forests and woodlands to look the same in the future if we don’t take action today. (more…)

Myth: One Person Can’t Make a Difference

Posted by Daisy Simmons on

Was your New Year’s resolution to make the world a better place? Probably not, if a) you’re one of the many people who think that one person can’t make a difference or b) you’re not 12 years old. Yes, sad to say, there are a lot of skeptical grownups out there. And for good reason—the world is pretty big, and the problems we’ve got are hard to keep track of for even the most voracious news junkie. It’s no wonder that so many of us feel helpless when it comes to protecting the environment.

But in Chicagoland, each and every one of us really can make a difference. The idea that one person cannot make a difference is one of the most damaging of the untrue EcoMyths—because it discourages people from exploring any of the others.

Does that mean we all have to swap out our cars for roller skates made out of recycled tires or quit our jobs to go live in trees with food buckets conveyed via pulley? That’d be a big no—with an expletive if we weren’t trying to watch our manners.

Making one small change in your routine can in fact make a world of difference (cheesy? Yes. But it’s still true.). We decided to chat with some of our partner experts about simple ways one person can make a difference in the effort—whether it’s at home, at work, or out and about. Take your pick: You can make a difference anywhere and everywhere. (more…)