Introduction to Saint James Farm II: Landscape Architecture

by Carl Strang

The green portions of St. James Farm Forest Preserve are not all wildlands. There are extensive grounds, some of which are paddock and events areas from the farm’s equestrian past, and some of which are designed plantings of various sorts. One prominent feature, borrowed from European design, is a scattered array of allees, paired rows of trees of the same species.

Immediately south of the parking lot is the river birch allee.

Immediately south of the parking lot is the river birch allee.

The pin oak allee is near the east border of the preserve.

The pin oak allee is near the east border of the preserve.

In my preliminary monitoring walks, the pin oak allee area is the only place where I have seen gray squirrels. Elsewhere there have been only fox squirrels so far. The ash allee is history, thanks to the emerald ash borer, but there are several other allees constructed with other tree species.

A variety of exotic woody plants may be found on the grounds. Many of these are concentrated around the former home site.

This magnolia is an example.

This magnolia is an example.

Brooks McCormick’s conservation interests were expressed in ponds and prairie plots at the edges of the grounds.

This pond has produced a brood of hooded mergansers annually the past few years.

This pond has produced a brood of hooded mergansers annually the past few years.

The prairie plots are diverse but small. They host a variety of generalist insects, and in recent weeks have attracted numbers of seed-feeding sparrows and finches.

The prairie plots are diverse but small. They host a variety of generalist insects, and in recent weeks have attracted numbers of seed-feeding sparrows and finches.

There also are significant conifer plantings, which already this fall have attracted pine siskins and red-breasted nuthatches down from the north.

 

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