On a recent chilly landscape workday in April, Village Forester Michael Collins, along with noted plant expert Roy Diblik, the Frederick Law Olmsted Society, and Department of Public Works staff planted 820 Penn or Common Oak and White tinged sedge plugs. They also planted 9 Virginia Blue Bells to add a touch of color. Volunteer Steward Cindy Kellogg, in addition to 15 hearty volunteers, helped to install sedge plugs at the Kent and Longcommon triangular park.
This is an experimental planting to see if sedges can replace mulch in planting beds under trees. All of the plants were donated by Midwest Groundcovers. A bur oak sapling donated by the Olmsted Society was also planted to celebrate Arbor Day.
The Village of Riverside wishes to thank Roy Diblik and Northwind Perennial Farm, Christa Orum-Keller and Midwest Groundcovers and the hard working landscape workday volunteers for making this planting possible. It has been a very rewarding partnership!
The companion planting approach to landscape management is a concept that the village forester has been advocating through his involvement with the Tree Stewardship and Planting Workgroup of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI). In December of 2018, Collins partnered with Diblik and Gerry Wilhelm, co-author of Plants of the Chicago Region and Flora of the Chicago Region to conduct a workshop at the Morton Arboretum on how companion plantings around new trees leads to healthier trees and more beautiful neighborhoods. Although he still uses mulch, Collins hopes to promote companion planting as a sustainable, low maintenance, option to mulch. After all, oaks and sedge plants have coevolved for years and have beneficial associations that help sustain and promote longevity and vigor.