Good Oak News

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Invasive Christmas Decorations!

Sure, the title of this post sounds like it could have been ripped from a tabloid magazine (it sounds more like a 50's sci-fi/horror movie to me), but its true some Christmas decorations are made out of invasive species. Oriental bittersweet has long been used in wreaths due to its bright red and orange berries, and wreath disposal is a likely source for many infestations of this extremely aggressive weed. But the Wisconsin DNR warns that other invasive species such as teasel and multiflora rose are being used in Christmas decorations as well.

So how should you dispose of your 'natural' holiday decorations? While you may be tempted to compost them or simply toss them in a "wild" section of your property, it is better to use caution and just put them in the trash if you are not sure what they are made of. We really cannot afford to spread more of these invasive weeds around the landscape. Evergreen trees, poinsettias and mistletoe should be safe to compost or dispose of in the woods by the way. An old Christmas tree stood up outside can even be good cover for winter birds, just be sure there is no tinsel or ornaments left on them that animals might eat and get sick from.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Three New Weed ID Sheets

This week we've wrapped up three new "weed identification and control sheets" for sow thistles, foxtail grasses and lamb's quarters. Check them out in the Knowledge Center.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Protect your woody plants this winter

Winter is a tough time of year for wildlife. Animals like rabbits and deer that would prefer to be eating succulent leaves, buds, fruits and roots are reduced to eating bark and tender young branches off of shrubs and small trees to survive. In areas where deer are over-populated, this can have a tremendous impact, wiping out nearly all oak seedlings for example. In urban areas, rabbits are usually responsible for a great deal of damage to young shrubs.

If you have young trees and shrubs on your property that you would like to see again next year, you really should protect them from hungry herbivores. This PDF file will tell you ways to protect your shrubs from rabbits, and similar measures can be taken against deer, though with larger and more robust defenses. If you are interested in purchasing any Liquid Fence, please contact us since we are considering putting together an order for our clients.

Dane Buy Local

I just wanted to make note that Good Oak Ecological Services joined Dane Buy Local recently. This is a great organization, that supports local businesses here in the Madison area. I have already made a few good connections in the single event I have been able to attend so far. Anyhow, if you have a moment check out their website to learn more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kane County Wild Plants Field Guide Available for Sale (again)

We have re-stocked on our inventory of Wild Plants and Natural Areas of Kane County by Dick Young. This wonderful field guide described every species of plant found in the wild in Kane County Illinois. EVERY SPECIES! This level of detail makes it the ultimate field guide for the Chicago Region, and is among the best available from southern Wisconsin on down to Central Illinois, and even eastern Iowa and northern Indiana.

The guide contains approximately 1400 species of plants with incisive and often charming descriptions of each species and simple though detailed hand drawing. The book is organized in a manner that is easy to use, with plants divided by major types (ferns, trees, shrubs, wildflower, etc) and then further divided by flower color and family.

Regular price for this book is $18. However, if you contact Frank by Friday, November 6th, you will get a special discount price of $16.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In the News: Its Garlic mustard "Whacking" season

As this article on points out, now is a great time of year to get a leg-up on garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is certainly the most destructive herbaceous weed in our midwestern woodlands. It can form dense colonies which virtually wipe out all other plant life. We have a window of opportunity for the next month-and-a-half or so while they are still green and active and it is warm enough to deal with them. So now is the time to take action! Take a look at our recently updated Garlic Mustard Weed ID Sheet for more information on how to control it. If you need help tackling your infestation, feel free to contact us. Now is also a good time of year to begin or start planning for prescribed burns and exotic brush clearing.

Recent research has shown that garlic mustard releases harmful chemicals into the soil that kill soil fungi and other organisms that native plants rely on to help them take up nutrients from the soil. This means that a garlic mustard infestation can have long-term impacts on the ecology of a woodland, yet another reason to control populations while they are small. The good news is that there may be help on the way; a single weevil species has been identified as a potential bio-control agent. The introduction of this weevil is still a few years off, and will not eliminate the garlic mustard threat all on its own, but it will be a big help for land managers who struggle to keep this noxious invasive species in check.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Super Native Plant Sale!

We have a few left over plants as we near the end of the growing season that we would like to get out of our driveway and into a new home. So we are offering these plants for sale at 75% off of retail prices! That's just $1 per plant for these 2.5" plugs! Offer available only while supplies last, so contact Frank right away if you are interested so we can set up a pick-up time or low-cost delivery.

The sale is pretty-much over, all we have left is one black oak seedling for $2.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Gentian Safari" at the UW Arboretum, this Saturday!

We'll be having our "Gentian Safari" wildflower walk at the Greene Prairie at the UW Arboretum this coming Saturday at 1pm. Meet at the gravel Grady Tract parking lot, at the southeast corner of the Beltline frontage road and Seminole Hwy in Madison.

Gentians are some of the most rare and beautiful wildflowers in our region. Come join us to enjoy their beauty and learn more about this unique plants. Long sleeves and long pants are recommended, and insect repellent may be necessary.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Look for our ad in the Abode

Hi all:

Just a heads-up to take a look for our beautiful full-color ad in this fall's edition of The Abode, the Isthmus' home and landscape guide for the fall. Its coming out Thursday Sept. 17th at all the places where you usually find The Isthmus.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Weed ID Sheets available

In preparation for the presentation on prairie weeds I gave this week for the local Master Gardeners, I have created 8 new Weed Identification and Control Sheets. These include:

Common Ragweed

Giant Ragweed
Nodding and Plumeless Thistle
Bull Thistle
Canada Thistle
Queen Anne's Lace
Sweet Clover
Wild Parsnip

See our Weed ID Sheets page for a full listing of these informative sheets.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Order Plants for Fall Now!

September is a great time to plant. The little plugs have nice cool, moist weather in which to grow and plenty of time to get new roots established before they go dormant in late October. So right now we're putting together orders for fall plantings, and we can provide you with any native plants you might be interested in. So if you want to buy some plants for a fall project of your own or would like to have us do an installation for you, please contact us right away. Fall is the best time to plant woody plants, and we'll also be doing a tree and shrub order within the next few weeks, so contact us if you're interested in those as well.

In other news, we hope you are able to get outdoors and enjoy this great early fall weather in your favorite natural area!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wildflower walk Thursday Sept. 3rd at 6pm At the UW Arboretum

The wildflower walk location this week will be the main Curtis Prairie at the UW Arboretum. Between the oldest prairie restoration in the world and the more recent native landscaping work done around the visitors center, there will be a lot of great stuff to see. Meet at the front steps of the UW Arboretum visitors center at 6pm on Thursday, Sept. 3rd.

The next wildflower walk will bejavascript:void(0) the "Gentian Safari" on Sept. 19th, and the Greene Prairie walk has been moved to Sept. 24th.

For more information see our wildflower walk webpage.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wildflower Walk at Koltes Prairie, 6pm August 20th.

We have another wildflower walk this week at a great site close to town. These lovely prairie remnants just north of Madison include both mesic and dry areas, meaning there are a variety of beautiful and rare wildflowers to be found here. We'll meet at the Good Oak World Headquarters at 5:30 to car-pool. If you are driving yourself, take Northport Dr. north out of Madison, which becomes Hwy 113. 1.7 miles north of Highway M, take a right turn onto Bong Road Park along the side of the road 0.6 miles east of Hwy 113.

For more information see our wildflower walk webpage.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

WIldflower Walk this Thursday (Aug 6th) at the Atwood Community prairie

Just about every day I get to ride my bike past the Atwood Community Prairie on the east isthmus bike path here in Madison. Right now this prairie is a explosion of color with dozens of species of prairie forbs in bloom. So I have made a change to our Wildflower Walk schedule to include a walk around this lovely site this week.

We'll meet at 6pm at the info Kiosk in the mid point of the prairie. This urban prairie is right along the east isthmus bike path, across from the Atwood Community Gardens. Its easy to get there by bike, by car try parking in the lot behind St. Bernard's Church, at the Atwood Community Center, or street parking nearby.

If you can't make it for the wildflower walk, make it a point to take a bike ride out that way soon to enjoy some beautiful native plants.

Wildflower Walk Schedule for Late Summer and Fall announced.

Hi folks, just want to give everyone a heads up that we have put together our Wildflower Walk schedule for the rest of the 2009 growing season. Find all the information about it here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wildflower Walk this Thursday @ U-W Arboretum

Just a quick note to let everyone know we are resuming our wildflower walk schedule on Thursday July 29th.  We'll meet at the parking lot for the Grady Tract section of the UW Arboretum at the southeast corner of Seminole Highway and the Beltlone frontage road at 6pm. 

We'll post more information and a full schedule for the rest of summer in about a week. 

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Roadside wildflowers

I'm traveling through Iowa today and really enjoying seeing native prairie plants along the side of the highway. We hve seen purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, hoary vervain, butterfly weed, yellow coneflower, yellow coneflower and wild beramot in bloom as we wiz past at 70 mph. Thought they are mixed in with quite a few weeds (they could use a good prescribed burn!), none the less it is encouraging to see Iowa taking this critical step to te long-term preaevatipn of our native wildlife.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Welcome to Summer

Whew! It was a busy spring for us here at Good Oak. So far this year we have installed roughly 4000 native plants, seeded over three acres into prairie and removed bags upon bags of invasive plants.

Now that we have a little time to catch our breath, stay tuned for information about our wildflower walk schedule for the rest of summer and into fall.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Stop Garlic Mustard!

Its that time of year again when the garlic mustard is tall and in bloom and it seems to be everywhere! This extremely noxious weeds is a major threat to our woodlands displacing native plants and, in turn, animals. It might be found in just about any shady area and a few sunny areas too. Get to know this plant and if you find any on your property: get rid of it! Now is the time to act, so take a look around and check with your neighbors to be sure it is kept under control (eliminated!) in your neighborhood.

Take at look at our Garlic Mustard Weed ID and Control Sheet (PDF) for more information and pass this information along to your friends and neighbors.

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Spring Wildflower Walks this week!

We have two wildflower walks coming up this week!

The first is on Tuesday at 6pm at meeting at the Wingra Springs parking lot at the UW Arboretum in Madison. We should see a variety of showy spring ephemerals such as great white trillium, woodland phlox, trout lily, anemones and more! From the Mill street entrance take Arboretum Drive past the residential area and up the hill through Gallistel Woods. The parking lot is at the top of the hill.

The second is on Sunday at 1pm. We'll travel south to Abraham's Woods in Green County to see its exceptional display of spring ephemerals including some rare species such as nodding trillium. After the walk through the woods we'll visit a nearby prairie remnant to see what happening in our grasslands this time of year. We'll meet at the South Madison Branch library at 2222 Park Street to car-pool, or contact us to make other arrangements.

These walks are free and open to the public, and we encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the natural beauty of our region. Please contact Frank if you have any other questions. Please see our wildflower walks webpage for other trips and more information.

Upright weeding tool lending service courtesy the Greater Madison Healthy Lawn Team

Frank is participating in the Greater Madison Healthy Lawn Team's upright weeding tool lending program. This program is intended to promote chemical-free weed control by loaning out quivers of several types of weeding tools that can be operated easily from a standing position. If you are in the Madison metro area would like to borrow these tools for a few weeks let Frank know and we can check the tools out to you for a few weeks. For more information about the GMHLT, see:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Come See Us at Green Day

We're going to hosting a booth at the Green Day Expo at the Monona Terrace this Saturday April 25th. This is a great time to stop by and meet us in person to discuss native landscaping and ecological restoration... or just say "Hi".

Furthermore, Frank will be giving a presentation at a break-out session at 3pm titled: "Native Plants for a Sustainable Landscape". He will discuss the environmental benefits of landscaping with native plants and offer advice as to how you can go about adding natives to your home or business landscape.

We hope you can make it!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good Oak Wildflower Walk Schedule for Spring 2009

We've finalized the Good Oak Wildflower Walk schedule for April, May and June. For any of these hikes, be sure to wear appropriate clothing such as long pants and sturdy boots. Also bring with you any water or snacks you might need. Contact Frank for meeting location and more information.

And with that said, here is the schedule:

Tuesday, 4/21, 6-8pm Early spring ephemerals hike at the UW Arboretum
Sunday, 4/26, 1-6pm Early prairie wildflowers at Walking Iron Prairie
Tuesday 5/5, 6-8pm Woodland spring ephemerals at the UW Arboretum
Sunday, 5/10, 1-6pm Rare spring wildflowers of Abraham's Woods
Tuesday, 5/19, 6-8pm Woodland spring ephemerals at Cherokee Marsh
Sunday, 5/31, 1-6pm Wildflowers of Blue Mounds and Pleasant Valley
Tuesday, 6/9, 6-8pm Wildflowers of Koltes and Ripp Prairies
Saturday, 6/20, 1-6pm Wood Lily extravaganza at Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie
Tuesday, 6/23, 6-8pm Grady Tract and Green Prairie of the UW Arboretum

Contact Frank Hassler at frank or 209-0607 for meeting location and more information.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Report from the first wildflower walk of 2009

We had a wonderful early-spring walk in the UW Arboretum on Thursday. Though there is little other apparent plant activity this early in the spring, we found mosses, ferns and wood avens all green and actively taking in energy from the sun along the side of the trail. And as we hiked along we listened to the soundtrack provided by dozens of species of singing birds, ranging from red-bellied woodpeckers to sandhill cranes to the common cardinal.

When we finally made it to Skunk Cabbage Bridge, the skunk cabbage was in full bloom and their unique fragrance filled the air along the gentle stream where you can find them. For those not familiar with the plant, here is a photo I took last year of some flowers that melted their way through the heavy snow cover:

Our next wildflower walk will be in mid-April. We'll post our full schedule for spring and early summer here soon, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First Good Oak Wildflower Walk, Thursday March 26th

Spring is finally on its way, and so we announce our first wildflower walk of the season. On Thursday March 26th at 6pm, join us at the UW Arboretum and explore some of the first signs of spring. Chief among these will be a visit to a patch of skunk cabbage. This unique plant is the first to bloom each spring with flowers that can even melt away snow above it as it sprouts.

We'll meet at the Wingra Springs parking lot. From the Mill street entrance take Arboretum Drive past the residential area and up the hill through Gallistel Woods. The parking lot is at the top of the hill.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Now Selling: Kane County Wild Plants and Natural Areas book

We are now selling Kane County Wild Plants and Natural Areas by Dick Young, a premium plant identification book, both locally in the Madison area or online at for those of you further afield. Just $18 if you buy it directly from Frank, with free delivery in Dane County, or $20 online.
Come visit our booth (#117) at the Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI on February 13-15th to pick up a copy.

This is, by far, my favorite plant identification book. Sure, you might say I'm a bit bias because Kane County, about 40 miles west of Chicago, is where I grew up. But its much more than that. Brief but apt descriptions, written in plain English, along side simple yet detailed drawings make identification easy for anyone. Since this book ONLY has species found in the wild in Kane County you know that every plant in the book is likely to be found in our local area. This is in contrast to broad regional guides like Peterson's and Newcomb's which contain many (if not the majority of) plant species which are not found locally.

Furthermore, because it has EVERY species of wild plant in Kane County it is also superior to books that focus only on a particular group of plants such as trees, grasses or only those that live in prairies. Though there may be a few rare species in your area which just don't happen to grow in Kane County, the vast majority of the plants you will find as far south as Urbana Illinois and as far north as Madison Wisconsin will be in this book.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Come See Us at The Garden Expo!

Come meet the Good Oak crew at the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI on February 13-15th.

Find us at booth 117 and say hello to Frank, Allison, Doug and other Good Oak associates. Before you know it the first skunk cabbages, sharp-lobed hepaticas, blood roots and spring beauties will be blooming, so now's the time to start planning for spring!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wildflowers of Colorado presentation, Wed. January 28th

Wild Ones presents: Wildflower Tour of Colorado

During one of the coldest, darkest days of winter, come join us to celebrate the bright and cheery botany of summertime in the mountains. Colorado is home to a wide variety of wildflowers, some are also native to Wisconsin like wild bergamot, green-headed coneflower and harebells, while others such as corn lily, monument plant and elephant flower are endemic to their mountain homes. Frank Hassler from Good Oak Ecological Services will give us a lesson on mountain ecology and a guided tour of colorful flora that inhabits the foothills, mountain meadows and alpine tundra. Get in the mood: Dress for warm sunny weather and, if you can, bring a summer-time treat to share.

This event will be held on Wednesday January 28th at 7 p.m. at the Sequoya Branch Library, located at 513 S Midvale Blvd, Madison.

Presented by the Madison Chapter of Wild Ones: Wild Ones promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Wild Ones is a not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization. For more information, contact Frank Hassler:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Now Featuring Frank Hassler's Wildflower Photography

I've been interested in photography my whole life but didn't have the money to buy a camera and get serious about it until after college. Over the past ten years or so I've photographed a variety of subjects from outdoor sports in action to landscape scenery. But my favorite subject has always been the amazingly beautiful wildflowers of the Midwest. So I've put together a gallery of my finest photographs on the web to share and offer them for sale. I hope to be offering additional features in the coming years such as additional galleries, free desktop images, and more. But for now, take a look and enjoy, and contact me if your are interested in purchasing any images. Below are just a few of the 60 photos I have chosen to display: