Now is a great time for a hike at the Watershed Sanctuary to observe all of the early spring bloomers showing off their displays of color and life. It is a welcome change after the shades of brown and gray that dominate the winter landscape. A leisurely stroll through the Sanctuary yields colors of pink, white, yellow and green while the symphony of songbirds replaces the cacophony of cars and traffic. After your short hike, stop by the new North Shore Pavilion to take a break by the lake, have a picnic, or just enjoy the glimmer of light on the water.

Partners Lake, looking through blooming serviceberry along the trail atop the cave.

The unseasonably warm weather seems to have inspired the plants to wake from their winter sleep a bit early this year. Currently at the Watershed Sanctuary visitors can observe wild plums (Prunus sp.), Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea), toothwort (Cardamine concatenate), redbud (Cercis canadensis), the particularly special Ozark trillium (Trillium pusillum var. ozarkanum), and others with a trained eye or field guide.

Spring bloomers: Common violet (upper left), toothwort (lower left), and rue anemone (right).

wildflower collage2

Spring bloomers: Ozark trillium (left), wild plum (upper right), and serviceberry (lower right).

Saturday, April 9,  join us with our guest speaker, Cody George, Horticulturist for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, to hear more about the rare Ozark Trillium, and have the opportunity to take a guided tour around the Watershed Sanctuary to view the trillium and other native plants in bloom. Meet at the Watershed Sanctuary at 10 am, to hear Cody’s presentation, followed by the tour. (Free event, open to the public).



Spring is also a time when many school groups visit the Watershed Sanctuary to participate in programs to learn more about the watershed, water quality, and indigenous plants and animals. Book your field trip today! There are also family friendly events coming up on April 17th for the dedication of the new North Shore Pavilion and our annual Fishing Derby on June 4th. IRWP provides four weeks of Art & Nature camps in June and July, register your camper today! Visit our calendar of events for more information on these and other upcoming opportunities.

In addition to the outdoor experience at the Watershed Sanctuary, which is open daily during daylight hours, visitors can also stop by the Watershed Learning Center, Monday through Friday from 9 AM – 4 PM and Saturdays from 9 AM – 2 PM, to learn more about the Illinois River Watershed, check out the cave exhibit, and visit the art gallery which features art and photography of the Illinois River Watershed.