Year of the Butterfly: ‘United by biking, nature & gardening’

Judy Klem, Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory Executive Director and Oak Park Temple member, talks about the temple’s native and vegetable gardens during the Native Garden Bike Tour in August. “I am really happy to live in a town whose public library does this kind of programming,” one participant told us.

‘Family-friendly and community-building’

On Saturday, August 21, we partnered with Bike Walk Oak Park for a bicycle tour of native gardens throughout Oak Park.

The collaborative event was part of the Year of the Butterfly, a community initiative to bring awareness about how to support a healthy habitat for butterflies and other pollinators. 

“I loved it,” said one participant. “It was a wonderful collaboration with Bike Walk Oak Park, and I appreciated how family-friendly and community-building it was.”

Soldier beetles (beneficial pollinators) on great blue lobelia in the Taylor Park wetlands.

‘I started paying more attention to the landscape’

To start the tour, everyone met at Taylor Park, where Library Assistant Linda Ivey Miller was excited to point out perennial lobelia growing in the park’s wetland.

“It’s a plant that has volunteered in my own garden, just a few blocks from Taylor Park,” she says.

When she was planning the event, Linda says, “I started paying attention to where I was seeing butterflies. And then I started paying more attention to the landscape.”

Crawling on the lobelia flowers at Taylor Park were soldier beetles. Children’s Library Assistant Dean Horkavy says the beetles are beneficial pollinators, as the adults eat pollen and nectar.

The adults and larvae also eat aphids and other insects that eat plants. “So they are good for your plants!” Dean says.

A monarch butterfly on Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) in the Lindberg Park native gardens.

‘I can’t believe I’ve never been here before!’

Linda shared key features at each park, including Austin Gardens (or “The Secret Garden”) and Lindberg Park, where we saw monarch butterflies flitting around the native garden areas.

“I’m so happy we saw some monarchs,” Linda says.

At Lindberg Park, Linda says she was cheered to hear one native garden enthusiast say, “I can’t believe I’ve never been here before!”

Library Assistant Linda Miller shared information about the parks we visited, including Lindberg Park (shown here). Note the library Book Bike at bottom right!

‘Happy to live in a town whose public library does this kind of programming

At Oak Park Temple, temple member and Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory Executive Director Judy Klem told the group about the development of the temple’s native and vegetable gardens.

“I had no idea that the Oak Park Temple had a community garden,” a participant told us. “I am really happy to live in a town whose public library does this kind of programming.”

We finished the tour with a storytime in Scoville Park, outside the Main Library.

Library gardens & storytime!

We wrapped up the tour at the Main Library, where Children’s Services Library Assistant Dean Horkavy talked about the library’s native plant pollinator gardens.

“It was lovely to see gardening enthusiasts mingle with newly inspired native gardeners, long-time Oak Park residents engage and share their passion for the village with new residents, and mature and young patrons interacting throughout the day,” Dean says.

“All united by the common bonds of biking, nature, and gardening, from the wonderment of a bee on a flower to a shared interest in group biking safety.”

Then it was time for a special storytime in Scoville Park!