A swarm of community volunteers was supposed to descend on Swan Pond Park last weekend to help plug in 10,000 plants in the low area of the park near the drainage culvert.
The July 29 planting date was actually a rain date, after the initial date of July 15 got washed out due to heavy rains that flooded the park. But more rain after July 15 drove the crest of the Desplaines River even higher and water continued to inundate the park last week, scrapping the July 29 planting event.
Now the 10,000 plants continue to sit over at the Riverside Department of Public Works facility in Riverside Lawn, awaiting a dry spell that will allow them to be planted. No one is sure exactly when that might be. Everything is at the mercy of Mother Nature.
“We’ve got to wait for it to dry out and then assess the situation,” said Riverside Forester Michael Collins. “In the meantime we’re trying to keep the plants going.”
Cathy Maloney, chairwoman of the Riverside Landscape Advisory Commission, said last week that she’d been keeping tabs on the condition of the plants and that they were doing well.
“They are sitting in the sun, and seem pretty happy,” Maloney wrote in an email, adding that she’d been in contact with Heidi Natura of Living Habitats, the contractor hired to craft a planting plan. “She cautions on overwatering, and that the main thing is they need sun.
“I don’t have a precise shelf life for the plants — clearly it is undesirable if they get rootbound.”
It was Collins’ hope that Living Habitats could be re-mark the area to be planted sometime this week.
“My game plan is to monitor the situation and let the contractor know,” Collins said last Friday. “It looks worse than it is.”
With the village looking to begin planting when conditions are right, Village President Ben Sells said that officials would probably forgo asking for planting assistance by the public, “because we’re going to need to get it done as soon as we can.”
Sells said that while it was too bad the July 15 planting date got washed out, it might have been a blessing as well. If the newly planted plugs had gotten flooded before they were established, they would probably have been washed away.
“It would have destroyed them,” Sells said.
Maloney agreed with Sells on the next steps for getting the plants in the ground.
“I think we’re in agreement that when it becomes possible to plant, DPW will start right away, and then we’ll call on community volunteers as possible,” Maloney wrote. “Just so glad that the plants weren’t flooded under.”