I have an obsession with plants, especially native, alpine, woodland and prairie plants.  I love finding them.  I love learning about them. I love documenting them.  Over the years I’ve accumulated thousands of photos of plants from my travels to various parts of North America but I had not discovered anything to do with them.  I’m hoping this will be my forum to share what I’ve learned and what I’ve discovered. 

Jennifer backpacking at Glacier National Park, September 2016

My name is Jennifer Howell and I am a mid-life adventurer living in northern Illinois due to the necessity of work.  Happily, it turns out Illinois has a richness of species that has kept me entertained for 17 years.  Our areas of long grass prairie are national treasures.  After growing up in upstate NY, spoiled by natural beauty everybday, I did not expect to develop the deep love and passion I have for the Illinois natural areas.  Perhaps it is the scarcity itself that makes it so special to me. 
Hepatica, Johnson’s Mound, Illinois

A while back I was fortunate to find a kindred spirit, my plant soul mate, my husband who has obsessed with trees for his whole life as I have obsessed with flowers.  Together with our spunky Boston Terrier, Franklin, we are weekend and evening adventurers, knowing that when you get outside you are always rewarded.  Together we received our Kane County Naturalist certificates and have spent many a satisfactory hour volunteering to help restore our natural areas, cutting buckthorn and honey suckle, pulling garlic mustard or collecting seed. 

When not exploring prairies and woodlands in Northern IL we range widely.  

Of course we have lots of house plants, too. This is burro’s tail.

We haunt areas of Vermilion county in central Illinois with its old river and remnant woodlands – as well as restored coal mines that have successful diversity.  Forest Glen, Kickapoo and Homer Lake are some of our favorite areas.  

Redwood National Park, February 2017

As it gets warmer we head north to Wisconsin, comparing the native plants there versus seven hours south in central Illinois, typically at either South or North Kettle Moraine.  The Scuppernong prairie is one of our favorite places, ever.  

Pasque flower, Waterton National Park, Canada, September 2016

Often as the seasons pass each year we prioritize a long weekend or week canoe camping, likely in the Flambeau or Namekegon in Wisconsin.  Our other major priority each year is at least one full week backpacking trip; for two years we went to Glacier National Park and this year we are headed to the Wind River range in Wyoming. 

Butterfly milkweed, Geneva River Garden, Illinois, June 2016

Every where we go we obsess over plants.  We are Botany tourists, picking places where we can see special trees or biomes.  All our travel stories involve detailed plant stories and require editing out of hundreds of plant photos that not all my Facebook friends and relatives want to see!  Often we will remember a place or a trip by a first plant spotting or experience.   

Jennifer, Winter 2016-2017
Franklin, Jennifer and Dustin, November 2016