Garlic Mustard Control

Spring is the time to hand pull garlic mustard in order to prevent its spread. Watch for it to emerge, and pull it before it goes to seed. See the link below for more details, explanations and strategies.

Check out this online resource for garlic mustard control provided by the non-profit the Stewardship Network.


Grasses, how do you tell them apart?

Want to learn more about grasses? Craving skills at identifying the many and varied grasses that grow in our region? Like to learn new things and gather with folks with a shared interest in ecology and botany?

Well – here is a workshop that may be for you:

Grass Identification Workshop hosted by Illinois Native Plant Society

Saturday, September 24, 2016, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Illinois Natural History Survey’s Forbes Building, 1816 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL

Join us to learn the basics of grass identification and terminology. The workshop will include both classroom and field instruction. No previous botanical experience is necessary. Bring water, your lunch, and a hand lens if you have one. Microscopes will be supplied during the classroom session. The grass family (Poaceae) is the 5th largest plant family in the world and 2nd largest in Illinois. Don’t ignore them any longer! Grasses are important as characteristic species of many habitats in Illinois. Registration required (limit 12): contact Paul Marcum (



Orchids – an online resource for identification and conservation

Amanda Ingrams, Faculty at Wabash College, presented at a recent Wednesday in the Wild about Indiana native orchids. Amanda is conducting research on the relationship between mycorrhizal and orchids. She explained orchid life cycle, shared interesting and compelling questions worthy of future study.

Amanda also shared a resource, NAOCC, self defined as:

“North American Orchid Conservation Center is a coalition of organizations dedicated to conserving our orchid heritage. Established as a collaborative effort by the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Botanic Garden. NAOCC is based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and includes units at the National Zoological Park, National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Gardens.”


Indiana native Orchids presentation at Clegg

Come over to Clegg at 1 pm EST today, Wednesday August 17, 2016, to see an informative and engaging presentation by Amanda Ingrams about Indiana native orchids. The presentation is a Wednesday in the Wild event.


Why to spend time in nature

Spending time in nature has a plethora of benefits. Don’t take our word for, check out this scientific article published on Tech Insider,

“11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside”.

After you read the article, head out to a NICHES property for a walk or to connect with nature.




Fisher Oak Savanna Video now available

NICHES Land Trust proudly shares our new documentary telling the Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve story. The film, produced by Leigh DeNoon, was made possible by grant support to NICHES Land Trust from the Nina Mason Pulliam Chartiable Trust.  The film shares not only the story of Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve in Jasper County, Indiana, but also the mission and work of NICHES Land Trust.  NICHES mission is to protect, restore and sustain northern Indiana’s ecosystems by providing habitat for native species and offering natural places for education, appreciation and enjoyment of current and future generations.

Watch the video and discover the collaborative efforts, the positive impact on native Indiana ecosystems, the sense of community and be inspired to visit the property yourself, and maybe even to become a member of NICHES Land Trust.


Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve Video Documentary

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Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve

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Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve 40.846741, -87.043948 Fisher Oak webpage (Directions)

Spring weather and annual cycles

Spring – a time for rain, cool temperature and the rush of growth. What a wonder to witness from the vantage point of a healthy native ecosystem. The spring wildflowers continue to bloom, early starters phasing out and new species reaching peak bloom. Pollinators emerge and transfer pollen from plant to plant enabling cross-pollination and the perpetuation of genetic variety within a species.  Trees of the shrub, understory and canopy layers of the woods are leaving out and with the leaves a decrease to the amount of sun reaching the forest floor, even as the days get longer.

The prairie shows sign of abundant spring growth as well – stalks emerging and leaves expanding. Birds migrate through or return to the native habitats of the area preparing for breeding season and the cycle ever repeats.

NICHES activities follow cycles too: spring tree planting, invasive garlic mustard pulling, and so much more. Another annual event is about to happen – the NICHES Annual Meeting.  Much important business happens at the meeting: board election, annual updates, as well as celebratory elements: a guest speaker presentation by Marc Hudson, photo contest awards given, conversation and connection among members, volunteers, board, staff and community.

Another highlight of the NICHES Annual Meeting – the silent auction. Enter your bid early on key items, like a float on the Sugar Creek led by NICHES Executive Director Gus Nyberg.  Explore the beautiful Sugar Creek – passing through NICHES property Bachner Reserve.

Visit the Silent Auction Advance Bid webpage of NICHES website to make your bid today on a one-of-a-kind guided float on Sugar Creek.


Native Gardening Workshop

Spring is slowly emerging – time to plan you garden.  NICHES is offering a ‘Native Gardening’ workshop through the Morton Center in West Lafayette. The workshop is designed to both familiarize you with native plants of our area, plant communities, and provide you strategies, skills and resources to infuse your garden with native species.

Spaces still available in the workshop – which meets Tuesday, April 12 1 – 3 pm at the Morton Center and Tuesday, April 19 1 – 3 pm at Clegg Garden.

Register through the Morton Center, or show up day of workshop to register in person.


Talking Prairies – and biodiversity within natural niches

NICHES Stewardship conducted a controlled burn yesterday at Fisher Oak Savanna Nature Preserve. Fisher Oak is a wonderful example of native ecosystems including savanna (obvious in the name, right?) and prairie. In fact, the prairie at Fisher Oak is among the highest quality restored prairies in Indiana. If you have never visited Fisher Oak, I encourage you to check it out. There is a trail system to provide a lovely wander about the property. If you are familiar with Fisher Oak, I encourage you to visit it again to not the immediate effects of controlled burn.

I am currently preparing for the Native Gardening workshops I will be leading in April and May (see the calendar for dates and times of a workshop near you).  I have this apropos quote to share with you from “Gardening for the Future of the Earth” by Howard-Yana Shapiro, PhD. and John Harrisson: “The prairie is self-renewing; it accumulates ecological capital; and by its own abounding fertility and diversity it controls pests and diseases. …The diversity of plant species with complementary niches contributes in large part to the resilience of prairies in the face of climatic extremes. Differences in growth form, type of resource use, and seasonality allow these plant species to coexist.  Under the ground one plant may produce a deep taproot, whereas its neighbor produces shallow, fine roots. Some species, legumes primarily, fix atmospheric nitrogen in addition to taking up nitrogen available in the soil. Seasonal timing of resource use differs among species, thereby reducing competition for soil, water, and nutrients.  Drought-hardy forbs are able to withstand the hot, dry conditions of summer.  Others, cool-season grasses and some forbs, persist by growing in the spring and setting seed before the onset of summer heat.” 

NICHES strives to support and enhance the native habitats and natural, healthy biodiversity of ecosystems, as our tagline indicates: helping ecosystems survive.

Be a positive part of conservation, restoration and habitat preservation – become a member of NICHES today.

Weekly Wander at Clegg finds wildflowers

Hepatica blooming at Clegg Garden photo by Brooke Criswell

Hepatica blooming at Clegg Garden photo by Brooke Criswell

As we wandered the trails of Clegg Garden, we found evidence of spring even amidst the leaf strewn woodland floor.  Trees show little sign of leaf development and only subtle budding; yet the woodland floor showcases quiet early bloomers.  The Hepatica are found throughout the property burgundy lobed leaves against the curled brown leaf litter; and now, with small (less than an inch to an inch in diameter) flowers ranging from white to pinks and purples.   Naturalist Nick Harby easily identified other early plants only leafed out, but not blooming yet, such as the water leaf [Hydrophyllum virginianum whose leaf looks only shows spots early in development. Other leafed out non-blooming finds included: bluebell [Mertensia virginica], rue anemone (or false rue anemone, difficult to tell with only the early leaves to assess), sessile trillium [Trillium sessile], and may apple [Podophyllum peltatum].

A section of Clegg benefited from a controlled burn a few weeks ago. We wondered how that particular patch of savanna was progressing, so we walked on through to investigate. The savanna floor exhibited much more green up than the area surrounding it, with leaves promising many shooting stars [most likely Dodecatheon amethystinum] and other native plants.

In addition to the blooming hepatica, we saw blooming blood root with the bloom open yet the leaves not yet unfurled. We marveled at the power of plants to grow through dried leaf litter, rock crevices and on the seemingly soil free surfaces of conglomerate rocks.

Take a slow and observant wander though the woodlands and you will find much wonder.