Good Oak News

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Good Oak at Garden Expo 2018!

The Booth:

Good Oak will again be attending the Wisconsin Garden Expo, this weekend, February 9th - 11th.  See us at booth 324! We'd love to talk to folks about ecological land management and sustainable landscaping practices.

We will also be selling items from our Sustainable Garden Center, including quality tools and books on a variety of topics including natural landscaping, edible wild plants, pollinators, and restoration practices.


This year Frank will be giving four presentations, at least one each day of the Expo. Here's what's on the schedule:

Planting a Prairie: Choose Your Own Adventure

Friday, Feb. 9, @ 5:15 pm
Room: Mendota 5
Add beauty to your landscape, reduce maintenance costs and provide a critical haven for wildlife. This talk will outline the process of prairie establishment and help you chart a course that fits the needs of your site. 
Handouts:  Prairie Plant Sources, Books and Websites

Restoring Your Woodland to Health

Saturday, Feb. 10, @ 4:45 pm
Room: Waubesa/Kegonsa

Learn the steps necessary to restore your woodland to a stable, healthy habitat and home for birds, butterflies, bees and wildflowers.

Handouts:  Woodand Restoration HandOutline

Gardening for Pollinators

Sunday, Feb. 11, @ 10:15 am
Room: Mendota 8

Pollinators provide critical ecosystem services and are under threat from a variety of human impacts. Learn what you can do to make your yard a haven for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and the many other "little things that run the world".
Handouts:  Native Plant Sources, Books and Web and Native Bee and Hummingbird Plants

Rain Gardens: The Next Generation

Feb. 11, @ 2:00 pm
Room: Mendota 8 

Rain gardens help us control runoff and clean up our lakes and streams. They can also present many design challenges.  Learn why we need rain gardens, how they work and how you can make your next generation rain garden better.
Handouts:  Native Plant Sources, Books and Web
Reference:   Rain Gardens: A How-To Manual for Homeowners

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Now Hiring: Interns, Technicians and Managers (oh my!)

If you'd like to get your hands dirty making a positive change for our environment, we're currently growing our crew for the 2018 season! 

-Ecological Land Management Technician:  We’re looking for folks experienced in landscaping or natural areas management work to join our team as a Technician, getting ecological land management work done on the ground. This is a permanent, full-time position with benefits. Applications are due February 16th, so act fast!

Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Landscaping Internship: We’re also looking for spring and summer interns, students and recent graduates who are looking to learn while they work. This could grow into a year-round, full-time Apprenticeship for the right candidates. Applications are due February 19th for the Spring Internship, and March 2nd for the Summer Internship. We're also looking to extend our internships to a year-round, full-time Apprentice position for good candidates, ask us about it when you apply.

Ecological Restoration Manager: We're always interested in meeting people that might be qualified to lead a team conducting land management work in the field, and work with clients on developing and executing plans. Get in touch.
There are multiple application due dates, but the first, are coming up quickly on February 16th! Please pass on to any potentially-interested parties.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Good Oak's Fall Native Plant Sale!

As is our tradition, we're selling off a little overstock of native plants this fall. We have over 600 native wildflowers, grasses and sedges that need homes! Below is our live inventory with pricing. Savings up to 75% off on some plants!

To order, email us at with the subject line: "Fall Plant Sale Order", and list the species and sizes you'd like. 

Or stop in to browse, but please text or phone first (608-209-0607), since we may be out working instead of at the shop!

UPDATE!: As an added bonus, we're going to offer 10% off our top four planting tools with any plant purchase as part of this sale!* Check out these great tools:

*Offer applies to in-store purchase only.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

We're Hirining!: Starting in Early Fall

Hi All, If you'd like to get your hands dirty making a positive change for our environment, we're currently hiring! 

Applications are due July 28th for our Ecological Restoration / Sustainable Landscaping Technician position. THis position is the the core of our work, getting things done on the ground. We're planning for a starting date around September 1st. 

Applications for our Assistant Ecological Land Manager Position are due by August 4th. This position requires extensive ecological restoration experience, and is intended to be a starting point for someone looking to move into a full Ecological Land Manager... project manager type, position within a year or so of joining our team. Also looking for an early-September start date.

As always, we're certainly interested in hearing from anyone with experience in the field of ecological restoration and/or sustainable landscaping who's interested in joining our team. So we've posted the job descriptions for our Manager positions on the Employment Page as well. 

 I hope to hear from some of you folks soon! 
- Frank 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Global Warming, Apple Computers and Saving the World, One Piece at a Time

Its our busy early-summer season. I hardly have time to eat some days, let alone blog. But a few things have been swirling around the environmental world lately that I feel the need to address in a quick post.


When I was in college at the University of Illinois, I was involved in several environmental clubs. I had some friends who gravitated towards political action. There were big issues on campus and in the state that needed addressing. But for me, I always found political action frustrating. You could work extremely hard on a project, pour your heart into it, and in the end, if a vote doesn't go your way, all that was for nothing.

I gravitated towards hands-on projects. We did clean-ups of some local streams. We did a bicycle repair fundraiser. I got most heavily involved in Red Bison, the student prairie restoration club. Interacting with the plants, animals and other organisms of our little prairie plot was, of course, rewarding, and part of the appeal. But most of all, I felt a great senses of satisfaction at the end of the day looking at the work we had gotten done, pulling weeds or planting prairie seedlings, and knowing I had made a difference that day.

Disheartening Current Events:

The United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement is an example of exactly what I find frustrating about politics. I have strong feelings about the issue, as do many millions of Americans, but I feel powerless to do anything about it. But its important we don't give up hope in improving our environment. Forget about politics. There is a lot that homeowners, rural landowners, and businesses (that you!) can do right now, to protected clean water, clean air and counteract human-induced climate change. 

Back Yard Action:

Lori Otto, Found of Wild Ones said: 

"You can do wonderful things on your own property to protect the environment. Each little island, each corridor will help bring back the butterflies and birds."

Lawn doesn't sequester much carbon. A rich assemblage of native plants do. Oh, and they also provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, help keep our surface and ground water clean, reduce air pollution and urban heat island effect. Learn more here.

Join our local Wild Ones chapter to get involved in the native landscaping movement and learn more about what you can do in your yard.

"If suburbia were landscaped with meadows, prairies, thickets, or forests, or combinations of these, then the water would sparkle, fish would be good to eat again, birds would sing, and human spirits would soar."
- Lorrie Otto

Back Forty Action:

On larger properties, any wild plant cover, even weeds and invasive plants, do a better job keeping our air and water clean than farm fields and lawns (or parking lots and subdivisions for that matter). But healthy natural habitats, prairies, woodlands, wetlands, etc., with a diversity of native plants do a notably better job in providing all of the ecosystem services that keep our environment healthy. Prairies are particularly good at sequestering carbon with their deep roots, and old-growth oaks of our woodlands and savannas can lock-up carbon for decades. These can be big, long-term projects, but start small and expand as you can.

Here is an incredible story from the Des Moines Register of an Iowa landowner who restored a stream, which had been degraded and repressed to the point it was little more than a wet spot in a stream, back into a high quality trout-stream, the trickling of the stream in this video is particularly pleasant knowing the story behind it: 

Learn more about Ecological Restoration here:

Become A Volunteer or Donate to a Local Cause:

If you don't have your own space where you can 'heal the Earth', The Prairie Enthusiasts are always looking for volunteers. Same story at the UW Arboretum, the Lakeshore Preserve, and Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I myself am leading a modest effort at Blue Mound State Park. Come help us pull garlic mustard this Saturday morning!

Considering donating to local conservation organizations need your help to do great environmental work in our local communities:

Business Taking Action:

Honestly, one of the biggest inspirations for this post is a couple things Apple Computers has been working on lately. They are building an impressive new campus, with 80% of the land being dedicated to natural areas with fruit trees, native oaks and a variety of native and drought tolerant, low maintenance plants. Read this interesting article from Backchannel on the project.

Then there's Apple's latest ad, seemingly a direct response to recent political events, which is simply beautiful nature scenes with the voice-over from Carl Sagan reading his book The Pale Blue Dot

I'm not saying Apple is the only business taking positive action. Subaru for example has developed zero-waste factories here in the US, and is supporting the National Parks Foundation. The point is, work to the organization you work for more environmentally responsible, and you can leverage a much greater positive impact.

All Politics are Local

Of course we need to engage in our state, national and international communities and the environmental issues in those areas if humanity is going to have a bright, green future. There are plenty of resources online to help you contact your political representatives and get involved in campaigns to put pressure on our politicians. I encourage you to take a few minutes to do just that.

But I think, taking action locally, whether its getting your own hands dirty or funding projects that you can see the results of in your own community, is extremely satisfying, and a very productive way to make a difference. Or as Mahatma Gandhi said:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."