Pollinator Habitat Almost Ready

A rock slab stands upright, braced by other rocks and surrounded by foliage in the Keeler Gardens pollinator habitat. The slab is painted partially white, and text painted on it reads “Welcome to,” in black, and “Keeler Gardens” in green. There is also a painting of a blue and green hummingbird hovering next to a blue flower to the left of the words, which is the Keeler Gardens logo.

The Keeler Gardens Pollinator Habitat Is Taking Shape

A picture of Keeler Gardens’ new pollinator habitat, taken from the curb. In the foreground is the habitat, planted with natives, studded with raised stepping stones, and edged on the street side with an apron made of reclaimed bricks. Keeler Gardens’ front garden is visible in the back left with lush vegetation and a small section of the pollinator habitat.
Pollinator Habitat

This summer we have been continuing our work on our new Pollinator Habitat, with the valued help of our seven interns and many volunteers, planting a multitude of Illinois native plants and working on a variety of hardscapes. We have all been laboring to get perennials and annuals installed in not only an aesthetically pleasing design, but also in a layout that will support the pollinators. Plants are grouped in large masses so pollinators have plenty to choose from. Annuals and perennials are planted both in the ground and in containers to offer pollen, nectar, and foliage at different heights, and native shrubs are scattered throughout the space to solidify structure.

The image focuses on a series of chipped, aged bricks that read “BARR” on the tops. They’re set in a clear pattern forming a walkway alongside the Keeler Gardens’ pollinator habitat.
Reclaimed Chicago Bricks

Also included in the plans are hardscapes such as flat stones for steppers and edging, and boulders anchoring corners. Stepping stones are staggered throughout the Habitat to allow visitors the opportunity to examine plants and pollinators up close. A narrow brick path lines the curb separating the Habitat from the street. This path is constructed of reclaimed antique paving bricks, drawing from Chicago history. Substantial boulders are painted by a local artist Paula Clayton with educational information.

 

A local artist, Paula Clayton, has been hired by Keeler Gardens to paint educational signs for our new pollinator habitat. Here, she’s crouching in the habitat, painting a sign near a tree that reads, “Shelter for Wildlife” with a graphic of a dragonfly in the upper right corner.
Paula Clayton painting

In addition to the formal Pollinator Habitat, Keeler Gardens supports pollinators throughout our entire space. We are part of the Monarch Waystation Program, a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and host two bee hives. Already we have seen pollinators visit – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and many different bees. You may have seen a few pictures of caterpillars that our interns found and we posted on our Facebook page. We are looking forward to seeing them grow, and supporting them in the Habitat. We will also be including pollinator “hotels”, offering guests the opportunity to learn to build their own creations.

A black and yellow striped caterpillar is stretched out on a greyish plant in the center foreground. The black stripes are white and red spotted and have black bristles or spines protruding from them, while the yellow stripes are marked with tiny black pinstripes.
American Lady Caterpillar
In the foreground is a handmade insect hotel, which is a square, untreated, wooden frame that is filled with bundles of dry branches, dry twigs, and bits of wood. The insect hotel is designed to be hung, with a rope strap on the top, but it is resting on the ground in the Keeler Gardens’ pollinator habitat for this picture.
Insect Hotel

We are so grateful to all those that have supported us in this endeavor, The Mulch Center providing extraordinary top soil and leaf mulch, Midwest Groundcovers supplying us with a multitude of top quality native plants, Krügel Cobbles for all the stone and brick in the Habitat, and Lurvey Garden Center for continued supplies of all types.

Again we thank Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation for the funding to create the Pollinator Habitat. As part of their K-12 Schools Program we will be hosting our Pollinator Celebration on Saturday, August 4, 2018 from 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. It will be an afternoon filled with pollinators and the plants that support them, information on the Habitat and upcoming programs, and tours and interactive opportunities for all ages. Visit our Facebook Event Page for more information and regular updates.

A picture of Keeler Gardens’ new pollinator habitat, taken from the curb. In the foreground is the habitat, planted with natives and studded with raised stepping stones. Keeler Gardens’ front garden and front steps are visible in the back right.
Pollinator Habitat

Garden Festival, Spring 2019

In the background, the Festival Blooms display at Epcot is spread across a strip of grass above a lagoon. The display is pink, magenta, red, orange and yellow, and is made in the shapes of stars, suns, and the Mickey Mouse logo. In the foreground, green hosta leaves edged with contrasting white are mixed in with dianthus, little hot pink flowers with fringed petals clustered at the ends of long, thin stalks.

Keeler Gardens Visits the 2019 Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival

In the background, the Festival Blooms display at Epcot is spread across a strip of grass above a lagoon. The display is pink, magenta, red, orange and yellow, and is made in the shapes of stars, suns, and the Mickey Mouse logo. In the foreground, green hosta leaves edged with contrasting white are mixed in with dianthus, little hot pink flowers with fringed petals clustered at the ends of long, thin stalks.
Festival Blooms Display

Saturday, May 4, 2019, through Saturday, May 11, 2019

UPDATE JANUARY 28, 2019: LIMITED SPACES STILL AVAILABLE…

Join Keeler Gardens for a week at one of the most extraordinary flower and garden festivals in the country: the Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World! This isn’t your typical flower and garden show. It offers an unimaginable collection of gardens, themes, and interactions, and we’re incredibly excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our community.

Keeler Gardens has been attending the Epcot® International Flower and Garden Festival for many years, gathering knowledge that we will now be sharing with you over one very special week. Let us guide you through the many gardens on display, allowing us to educate you on all the magical details that will truly connect you with the plants and people of this enchanting special event.

In the center of the picture, a white peacock butterfly with spread wings rests on a cluster of spiky, light orange and dark red milkweed flowers. The butterfly is a pale brown with three dark brown spots on each wing and several rows of rusty orange and dark brown stripes around the wavy edges of the wings.
Butterfly on Milkweed

As your hosts, Keeler Gardens will be at your disposal for guided tours during a portion of each day, with your late afternoons and evenings free to take advantage of all Disney has to offer. Every stop will impart an appreciation for the many different displays, cultures, and hidden gems throughout the festival and beyond. We will immerse you in butterflies, visit each country in the World Showcase, and explore Disney’s environmental commitment. We will also offer suggestions and tips for maximizing your enjoyment of Walt Disney World.

Keeler Gardens has partnered with Vacation Village at Parkway in Kissimmee and Michelle Buchecker at DreamFinder Travel for an excellent offer on accommodations and theme park tickets. Stay in an apartment-like unit with a full kitchen, bath, king bed, and laundry facilities, just a 10-minute ride from Walt Disney Resort property. Along with the comfort of these unique rooms, you will have the luxury of a pool, hot tub, and sun deck.

Tour Details

Package includes:

▪ One-bedroom unit for seven nights

▪ 7-day pass with Park Hopper, to offer the most flexibility (ages 10 and up)

▪ Keeler Gardens knowledge, expertise, and our personal attention as we guide you through your festival experience

▪ Welcome Reception

▪ Keeler Gardens Tour Kit

Package price is $965 per person, based on double occupancy.

In one section of the Terracotta Garden at the 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, Italian terracotta pots overflow with blooms. In the front pot is white sweet alyssum and light pink New Guinea impatiens. In the pots just behind are tall blue and purple stalks of blooming salvia mixed with bright red dianthus, and far in the back hot pink New Guinea impatiens and two-tone pink geraniums. Along the bottom of the picture are more stalks of salvia, and deep blue petunias.
The Terra Cotta Garden

To reserve your package through Keeler Gardens, contact Gina at Gina@KeelerGardens.com.

A nonrefundable deposit of $250 will be due upon booking to confirm your accommodations. Final payment will be due within one month of booking.

Prices are subject to change until paid in full.

Guests will be responsible for their own airfare, transportation, and meals. There is limited daily transportation available from the hotel to the Walt Disney World Resort.

If you have any questions about the packages, options, or the festival please contact Gina at Gina@KeelerGardens.com.

Keeler Gardens Welcomes Summer 2018 Interns

Four high school interns from across Chicago pose for a picture, standing in the right foreground in a group on a sidewalk with a sign that reads “Welcome, Keeler Gardens.” In the background, mostly to the left, is the Keeler Gardens educational pollinator habitat, freshly planted, with a variety of Illinois native pollinator plants.
Five high school interns from across Chicago stand on the sidewalk in front of Keeler Gardens with Gina, the gardens’ lead horticulturalist, posing for a picture to commemorate their first day at work. On their left in the foreground and background is the educational pollinator habitat, with many of the native plants and bulbs in pots on the soil, not yet planted in the ground. Behind them to the left is part of Keeler Gardens’ front garden.
Interns with Gina

This summer, Keeler Gardens is proud to say we have seven new interns working and learning with us! Four of them are participating through privately funded internships, and three we host through the After School Matters summer internship program.

After School Matters works with more than 23,000 companies to provide jobs for more than 15,000 teens across Chicago every year. Their program is a great way for nonprofits and other businesses to help Chicago’s youth, and it’s a great way for Keeler Gardens to find teens that want to connect with nature.

Our new interns are taking on their jobs like champs! Their first week at Keeler Gardens was excellent weather for working outside, if a little hot, so they mainly worked on planting bulbs and other plants in the new Pollinator Habitat.

Two interns, seen from slightly above, one bending down on the left side of the picture removing a shovelful of dirt, and one standing at the top right with only her legs visible holding a shovel, are digging a large hole to plant a rosebush next to an ornamental rock feature. The clay soil appears gray and chunky as the sun is beating down on the working interns. The soil appears gray and chunky, and the sun is beating down on the working interns.
Planting a rose bush in the Pollinator Habitat

They’ve made so much progress on the Habitat that it’s coming along ahead of schedule, and we’re very excited to see how far it’s come. The Pollinator Habitat will be officially open on Saturday, August 4, 2018 for our Pollinator Celebration Day, and you may have the opportunity to meet some of our interns. They’re all looking forward to meeting the community and growing with Keeler Gardens this summer!

Four high school interns from across Chicago pose for a picture, standing in the right foreground in a group on a sidewalk with a sign that reads “Welcome, Keeler Gardens.” In the background, mostly to the left, is the Keeler Gardens educational pollinator habitat, freshly planted, with a variety of Illinois native pollinator plants.
Interns and the Pollinator Habitat