BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – For years, homeowners near Tanna Farms and Mill Creek golf courses have enjoyed the prairie grass and wildflowers that grew around the edges of golf courses and bloomed behind their backyards. Classes.

They particularly valued it because of the habitat it created for pollinators and butterflies – especially milkweed which is essential for monarch butterflies.

But there was a shock this summer: a mower passed and chopped everything on July 11.

“We’ve lived here for 15 years and in those 15 years I can’t remember when it was mowed down in the middle of summer,” said Jennifer Urban, who lives on the fifth hole of the Tanna Farms golf course . “In the middle of summer it gets wild and blooms and it’s beautiful. … It was terrible. There was nothing I could do.

Urban said Shodeen, who owns the golf course, would cut it in the spring or late fall, never in the middle of the season.

Urban said she and a neighbor came out to ask the man why he was mowing.

“He said, ‘A lady complained and the boss told me to cut it,'” Urban said. “He left us with a good 10 feet of prairie grass.”

But he came back the next day and continued mowing. Her husband was at home and he called her to find out what to do, she said.

“I told him to go arrest it,” Urban said.

The man told her husband, “‘The boss told me to come back and finish it,'” Urban said.

Dave Patzelt, chairman of the Shodden Group, said the mowing was done in error and would not happen again.

“It was a mistake due to lack of communication between the golf course supervisors and the superintendent and the course crew,” Patzelt said. “It’s a shame it got cut. It can’t be put back because it’s cut. There’s nothing we can do to fix it other than stop what we were doing and accepting that it was a mistake. … We weren’t trying to do any harm. Obviously, it was a blatant mistake.

Patzelt said the basis of Tanna Farms and Mill Creek has always been to support the natural infiltration system with bioswales and vegetated swales that allow water to return to the ground rather than into a sewer pipe. towards the Fox River.

A swale is a low or depressed area where water collects and, through vegetation, slowly releases water as a natural infiltration system. A biological swale is an alternative to a storm sewer.

“It’s been the foundation of Mill Creek’s natural environment for 25 to 30 years,” Patzelt said.

Patzelt said he thought the person complaining at the golf course was new and didn’t realize the prairie grass and wildflowers were intentional plantings.

“A new person might have moved in and thought prairie plants were weeds,” Patzelt said. “We have received phone calls from some residents indicating that the plants are passing on their side of the fence. Grassland plants approach and enter the fence. Maybe they thought it was weeds on the other side of the fence.

Urban’s neighbor Kay Panfil, who also lives near Tanna’s Fifth Hole, said she couldn’t understand why anyone thought the prairie grass and wildflowers needed to be cut, but she was happy to hear that it wouldn’t happen again.

“We had so many butterflies and fireflies,” Panfil said. “It looks terrible and it’s not the right time of year. They should cut it in spring or fall. There was no reason to when they did. … It looks like a desert.

The milkweed that has been growing for a past summer on the edges of the Tanna Farms and Mill Creek golf courses in Blackberry Township provides habitat for monarch butterflies, which only lay eggs on the milkweed and whose caterpillars only eat milkweed.  This year the Shodeen Group made a mistake by cutting the prairie grass and wildflowers in the middle of the season.  All mowing is stopped and a company official has sworn it won't happen again.

Another neighbor, Tammy Chiovari, said now that monarch butterflies have been designated an endangered species, preserving their habitat is increasingly important.

“I’m on the board of the Geneva Garden Club and the Garden Clubs of Illinois — it’s like an umbrella for all the garden clubs in the state,” Chiovari said.

Planting for Pollinators is a special project of the Garden Clubs of Illinois, according to its website,, which also lists native plants to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.

“That’s very good to hear,” Chiovari said of the Shodeen company’s vow to stop mowing.