Starting anew

Spring means it’s time to feed your family the sunshine it needs after a winter hibernation. Everyone’s doing it—even the flowers.

Illinois used to be mostly prairie, and some plants need to be coaxed back after being trapped underground all winter. Help weed out the invasive species and reseed more than 500 native grasses at the West Chicago Prairie, 9 a.m.-noon March 11 and 24. Give the kids a taste of the wide-open spaces that used to be our city.

The thaw has a tasty effect on the sugar maple trees at the Coral Woods Conservation Area. As the trees send sap up from the roots to nourish the buds, volunteers harvest it during festivals March 10-11 and 17-18. Kids can help harvest the sugar and turn it into fresh maple syrup, a true treat of spring.

Not all spring plants are sweet. Catch a carnivorous plant in action at Volo Bog in Ingleside. Don’t worry, they’re only dangerous to bugs. You won’t be in trouble unless the bog starts quaking.

If you’d rather have your spring flowers neat and orderly, head to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Something is always in bloom, whether on the islands of the Japanese garden, in the tulip bed or under the soil of the fruit and vegetable garden.

If the spring warmth is slow to come, retreat to Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden is as much an organic playground as it is a garden, and children’s activities abound. Popular ones include Sleuthing Thursday, 5-8 p.m., and Weekend Family Fun, noon-3 p.m. weekends.

It’s time to plant some spring seeds. Get growing.

Diana Oleszczuk

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