This Week in the Prairie Patch: August 2-August 8

Plant Updates: Shhh, don't tell the TriState Fire District that this Saturday is 'Sneak Some Zucchini on your Neighbor's Porch Day'.

Garden Giveaway: Available daily in the library's lobby. Depending on our harvests, you will find herbs such as mint, chives, dillweed and sage. We also have kale, swiss chard, carrots, beans and a variety of squashes. If you have any questions about the program, or are interested in donating surplus from your garden, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 Megan Lawrence!

Role: Youth Services Associate

Where are you from?: Willowbrook

How long have you been a library patron?: I have worked at IPPL for a little over a year, but I have been a patron for 8 years.

What do you like about gardening?: Lots of thingsIt is relaxing and a great way to spend time outside. I loved helping my parents in their garden when I was little and now, I can share gardening with my kids. It has been fun to explore nature with them through the garden.

Also, there is an artistic element in planning a garden and using plants as the medium. Finally, I really like being able to grow things from seed and see the result, and I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment in sharing my flowers and veggies.

What are your favorite gardening books?:

Native plants of the Midwest : a comprehensive guide to the best 500 species for the garden

Six seasons : a new way with vegetables

What is your favorite thing to grow?Zinnias, Bee Balm, Tomatoes, and Peonies

Do you have a favorite gardening quote or phrase?:

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." Audrey Hepburn

"Mommy look it's a tomato!" My daughter, Clio

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. 

Finally, thank you to everyone who participated in our Prairie Patch Art Show! If you participated, your artwork is available for pickup at the Kids & Teens Desk.

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 12-18

This week's post is brought to you by the letter 'Z' for ZINNIA. In addition to the zinnias found vibrantly blooming in planters outside the front door of the library, there are several individual zinnia plants now visible throughout the Prairie Patch. Look for them intermingled with beds including the carrots, herbs and in Bea's Garden.

Also, there are still spots available for our outdoor Kids + Teens programs scheduled in the Prairie Patch, including a Mud Kitchen, STEM in the Prairie Patch, Mid-Kid yoga and a Mid-Kid Field Day. Click here for schedules and registration information.

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 Mary!

Name: Mary Laffey

Role: Gardening Volunteer

Where are you from? Downers Grove

How long have you been a patron? Since I was twelve years old!

What do you like about gardening? I love the idea of creating, nourishing, and caring for something that is both beautiful and useful to the community.

What are your favorite gardening books? The Secret Garden and Mandy

What is your favorite thing to grow? I love our little "tea section" of the prairie patch with the mint, lavender, lemon, and chamomile

Do you have a favorite gardening quote or phrase? "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." - Cicero

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:

The Complete Summer Cookbook: Beat the heat with 500 recipes that make the most of summer's bounty

The Vegetable Gardener's Book of Building Projects

The Big Book of Blooms

Weekly Garden Giveaways: We hope to start these soon!

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.

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 June 28-July4

Interested in knowing what we're growing? The map to the left features what's planted in each bed.

Sensory Garden:

Want a sneak peek for what to 'see' in the next Sensory Garden tour? Look for the beautiful and big yellow hollyhock growing in the perennial bed near Bea's Garden. 

Weekly Garden Giveaways: We will hopefully start these in mid July. 

Book Recommendations:

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

Enchanted gardening : growing miniature gardens, fairy gardens, and more

Container and fragrant gardens: how to enliven spaces with containers and make the most of scented plants

Roses without chemicals: 150 disease-free varieties that will change the way you grow roses

  • 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: June 21-27

Peace Pole welcoming visitors to the Prairie Patch.

Celebrate Pollinator Week with us! Bea's Garden is a lovely spot to enjoy a variety of perennial plants and has several insect hotels placed so you can observe them. Look for the garden at the north end of the Prairie Patch, and don't miss the new 'Welcome' Peace Pole in a shade bed nearby.

Is your garden a haven for pollinators? Register it with Journey North's Pollinator Patch program to support efforts to protect the annual migrations of animals like monarchs and hummingbirds. Learn more here.

Do you have a child interested in science and nature? Sign up for the following online pollinator-themed programs:

Thursday June 25, 9:30 am

Wednesday June 24, 5:30

Friday June 26, 2-3 pm

Sensory Garden:

Have you explored the Sensory Garden yet? Our next rotation will be placed in early July. If you haven't walked through yet, now is your chance! Indicated by blue signs placed throughout the garden, the current experiences are: Touch: Hosta, Taste: Mint, See: Allium, Hear: Birds, Smell: Chives.

Weekly Garden Giveaways: 

We will hopefully start these in July depending on local health guidelines.

Book Recommendations:

Monarch Butterflies Matter

Attracting Native Pollinators

Vegetables Illustrated: an inspiring guide with 700+ kitchen-tested recipes

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: June 14-20

Did you know the Prairie Patch is Monarch Waystation? We have certified we have created a habitat that helps preserve the species and support the butterfly's amazing migration every year. Click here to learn more about the Monarch Way Station program.

Another great resource to help support Monarch habitats and migration is with Journey North, a citizen scientist program that helps track the migrations of a variety of species including monarchs and hummingbirdsClick here to learn more about Journey North's Monarch tracking program and how you can participate as a citizen scientist.

Sensory Garden: The globe alliums are near the end of their blooming but 'look' for the hollyhock to bloom soon in the same bed. Have you gotten a chance to 'taste' the mint yet? We have two types of mint growing in the same bed, one has a darker stem, the other a green similar to the leaves. One is definitely a sharper mint flavor. Which one do you like best?

Weekly Garden Giveaways: We will hopefully start these in July depending on local health guidelines.

Book Recommendations:

Non-Fiction

Butterfly Gardening: The North American Butterfly Association Guide

Vegetable Gardening Wisdom: Daily Advice and Inspiration for Getting the Most from Your Garden

Fiction

Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

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 June 7-13

Fun time in the Play Patch last summer. Currently our toys are bug and bee related. Enjoy!

Plant Updates:

Several volunteers and team members from the Kids & Teens department planted most of the remaining seeds and plants in the Prairie Patch over the weekend. We tried to label everything, so keep your eyes out for what's growing. Look for blossoms on pumpkins and zucchini and don't miss 'Tomato Town', a whole bed full of tomato plants.

Sensory Garden:

Toys for the Play Patch have been added to the sandbox. Please try to keep the sand in and the rocks out!

Weekly Garden Giveaways: We will hopefully start these in July depending on local health guidelines.




Book Recommendations:

  • Non-Fiction

Gardening Projects for Kids

The Little Gardener: Helping Children Connect With the Natural World

Six Seasons

  • Fiction

Darling Dahlias Mysteries

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.

Sadie

If you're as obsessed with true crime as I am, you'll love Sadie. It's the perfect marriage of gritty, true crime and a coming of age story with a first person narrative. Told in separate timelines, we follow our titular Sadie as she sets out for revenge following the murder of her younger sister, and West McCray, the radio personality, who picks up her story. Sadie's story will keep you on the edge of your seat. We see her story unfold through her own narration, while West struggles to put together her mysterious journey through interviews and podcasts. This Courtney Summers book (2018) is an Illinois Teen Readers' Choice Lincoln Award (Abe) nominee for 2020.

Check out this title on Overdrive -- find both the eBook and eAudio