A Bizzzzy 2019 at Keeler Gardens

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.
Welcome Sign

2018 was a busy year for Keeler Gardens! The highlight of this year was the opening of our Pollinator Habitat, a year-round refuge for pollinators featuring Illinois native plants. And speaking of pollinators, our bee hives were successful this first year. We definitely benefited from the help of our six Chicago Tech Academy interns in the spring and our seven summer interns. We hosted programs, like the Flower Arrangement Class and our Pollinator Celebration at Keeler Gardens, and we presented to the Highland Park Garden Guild and at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nature Play Event. Read on for details about each of these exciting programs and presentations. 

Chicago Tech Academy Interns

In February we were proud to welcome six interns from Chicago Tech Academy! Chicago Tech Academy is a great charter school, with a mission to educate, empower, and help students discover their passions, succeed in college, and thrive in a digital world. They particularly stress engaging in real-world learning and work with 100+ partners such as DDB, Vibes Media, Gogo Air, CNA Insurance, and now Keeler Gardens, to provide students with early exposure to work-based learning and internships. These six interns came from Chicago Tech to gain hands-on experience in botany, horticulture, technology, and art. Over the month of February, this crew completed art projects, supported our social media plan, photographed the site, organized digital files, and designed a garden. We thank all of the interns for their hard work in the winter as it set the stage for the rest of the year.

The Keeler Gardens Educational Pollinator Habitat

One of the biggest accomplishments this year was the creation of the Pollinator Habitat. In March Keeler Gardens won a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to build a pollinator habitat. We can now offer an experience with Illinois native plants in a year-round refuge for pollinators, that would perform from early spring through late fall. 

On August 4 we opened our Pollinator Habitat with our Pollinator Celebration, which was a great success!

Summer Interns

Over the summer we were also fortunate to host seven interns! Four of them participated through privately funded internships, and the other three 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. This program is a great way for nonprofits and other businesses to help Chicago’s youth, and it was a great way for us to find teens that want to connect with nature. Throughout their internship, the interns worked on planting a plethora of plants in the new Pollinator Habitat. Thanks to these interns, the Pollinator Habitat successfully opened on August 4.

The Big Buzz, Honey!

We were very fortunate to partner with Sloanstead Honey. They installed and managed two hives on top of our shed. They harvested Keeler Gardens Honey at the end of the season and we plan to have honey every year!

Looking Forward

2018
has come and gone, but we are excited to continue building on the Pollinator
Habitat and tackling more projects in 2019. This year we want to welcome more
volunteers to Keeler Gardens. Our focus is to continue to build community
through nature. Make sure to sign up for our email list or follow us on
Facebook to be the first to hear about events such as Fridays by the Fire, a
trip to The Epcot™ International Flower and Garden Festival, and sharing
our story at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.

Do you need a little more nature? Then head to Keeler Gardens and sit in a rocking chair, look for the community cats, or knock on the door for a cup of tea with Keeler Gardens Sloanstead Honey. We look forward to expanding our community this year!

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