This is your opportunity to explore the Native Suburbia project through a series of photographs. If you enjoy these pictures or you have pictures of your own alternatively landscaped yard, please contact us and share.

Specimen Collection

A collection of pictures representing the many plants found in Native Suburbia. The pictures were taken at various times of the year to show different stages, which can be helpful when identifying new plants. Each of the specimen pictures is available in high resolution; just continue to click on the picture to step through thumbnail, scaled, full browser and full resolution versions. If you know what you are looking for by name, the search feature will find it anywhere on the Native Suburbia site.

  • Native:Plants native to Illinois which grew here prior to European contact. Native plants have co-evolved with animals, fungi, and microbes to form a complex network of relationships. These are not weeds and they are welcome in Native Suburbia.
  • Non-Native:Plant species living outside their native distributional range due to human activity, either deliberate or accidental. These are weeds in Native Suburbia and we pull them all.

Through The Years

Sets of pictures grouped by year to demonstrate how Native Suburbia grew up. This project required a lot a patience, and these pictures let you follow along on the journey.



  • First Growth:Things started out a little more slowly than we had hoped. The fact that we experienced a terrible drought did not help matters.
  • Late Summer:The summer was not a complete failure. We have found plenty to look at and keep us interested. Take a quick tour through Native Suburbia as it reaches the end of its first summer.
  • Buckthorn Removal:The time had come to remove the insidious glossy buckthorns. It was an excuse to buy a chainsaw and an opportunity to plant native shrubs.


  • Winter:Not much is happening at this time time of the year, but we were out on a sunny winter day, so we decided to take a few pictures.
  • Spring:The beginning of a new growing season. We were a little worried that everything was dead after the long winter. It was great to see the first brave sprouts making an appearance in early April.
  • Rain Garden:A special project that we undertook this Spring was the creation of a rain garden. We were interested in doing something more fun with the water from the sump pump and this turned out to be a great idea.
  • Mass Planting 05/2006:We had high hopes for being able to start everything from seed, but despite the many warnings that it could take several years to get results, we thought it would be different for us. The lack of growth in a shady area and the new excavation for the rain garden finally pushed us to buy plugs and have a planting weekend.
  • Early Summer:Like parents with a new baby, we just cannot stop taking pictures. Native Suburbia is growing up so fast that we just want to document every step before it passes us by. Hopefully, you share some of our enthusiasm and enjoy this set of pictures.
  • Midsummer:Another update. This set shows the latest growth as well as our recent lawn smothering and path building activities.
  • Late Summer:Lots of plants in bloom as August and September are upon us. There are a ton of pictures in this set. This was a very exciting summer for Native Suburbia.
  • Autumn:It is the end of another growing season in Native Suburbia. Take a final stroll around the yard with us.


  • Winter:Last summer's plants are still standing through the snow, the rain garden pond provides interesting scenery, and the animals brave the cold.
  • Wasp vs Caterpillar:Guess who wins when wasp (Polistes dominulus) meets caterpillar (Nymphalis antiopa).
  • Spring:Another exciting spring rolls around. Take a look as Native Suburbia awakens from its winter slumber.
  • Midsummer:The backyard is really starting to show some maturity this year. Things are filled in nicely and we continue to find something new every day.
  • Late Summer:Another summer winds down. So much happened during this growing season. It is difficult to accept that we are reaching the end. Take a look at these pictures to see what Native Suburbia looks like at the end of its third summer.
  • Later Summer:Maybe we called the end of the game a little prematurely. There is still plenty happening in September.
  • Autumn:The growing season is over, but there is one last splash of color to keep visitors to Native Suburbia interested.


  • Winter:These pictures are a lot like last year's, although there are a few more dried plants sticking up through the snow. I continue to post sets like this to document the complete progression of Native Suburbia over the years and through the seasons.
  • Spring:What's happening this Spring? As usual everything is waking up after a long winter. If you don't pay close attention, it may seem that these pictures are the same as last year. There are plenty of familiar faces of course, but some new plants have joined us as well. In addition to the usual "tour" pictures, this set also represents a shift towards more specimen shots. I think that the changes from year to year and season to season have been covered pretty thoroughly, so there will probably be less of the tour pictures in the future.
  • Summer:The summer of 2008 brought an explosion of vibrant blooms and a lot of birds, butterflies, and bees.


  • Year in Pictures:This year I boiled the entire Native Suburbia experience into a single set of pictures that cover from Spring to Winter.


  • Spring Mow:Burning is the preferred method of maintaining prairie landscaping but, due to the close proximity of the neighbors, we had to find an alternative. Once a year I mow the entire yard to chop up all of the old plants. This speeds their decomposition and opens the ground for a new season of growth.
  • Spring to Winter:Another year in the life of Native Suburbia. Follow me and watch for the changes.