Healing the earth, one yard at a time.


In this issue:
  • Featured Online Program October 19: 
    Liberty Hyde Bailey: New Agrarian Philosopher and “Patron Saint” of American Gardening presented by John Linstrom, Series Editor of The Liberty Hyde Bailey Library for Cornell University Press
  • November Annual Meeting/Potluck Cancelled
  • Call for Nominations, WORC Annual Election
  • September Program Recap
  • Ranger Steve's Nature Niche: Trees Down
  • Wild Ones Kalamazoo Chapters Fall ZOOM Presentations
  • Natives to Know: Witch Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana
  • Wild Ones River City Facebook Group
  • Wild Ones National Annual Report and Strategic Plan
  • Wild Ones Digital Photo Contest
  • Native Plant Guild Sponsored Advertisement
  • Wild Ones River City Shop at CafePress

Available on our YouTube Chanel October 19

Liberty Hyde Bailey: 
New Agrarian Philosopher and 
“Patron Saint” of American Gardening

Presented by John Linstrom

John Linstrom (pictured below) is Series Editor of The Liberty Hyde Bailey Library for Cornell University Press and an NYU Public Humanities Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. He coedited The Liberty Hyde Bailey Gardener's Companion: Essential Writings (Comstock-Cornell UP, 2019) and prepared the centennial edition of Bailey's book The Holy Earth (Counterpoint, 2015). His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, and he lives with his wife in Queens, NY.

One hundred years ago, naturist and horticultural botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey was sending the future both a warning and an invitation—a warning about ecological exploitation, and an invitation to a fuller way of living as stewards of the land. John Linstrom will discuss Bailey's prescient "earth philosophy" in relation to our current moment and the call to good stewardship that we still need today.


John Linstrom impersonating Liberty Hyde Bailey at North Shore Elementary School

due to COVID-19 restrictions for large indoor group meetings.
Call for Nominations!


Are you or someone you know interested in being more involved with Wild Ones River City Chapter? A deep knowledge of native plants is not required to be a part of our board as an officer—there is always more to learn! Officers do need to be a member in good standing.
Our election is held in November each year for following offices:
  • President
  • Vice President
  • Secretary 
  • Treasurer
This year due to Covid-19, members will be notified by email to vote online.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration. 

—Marti MacArthur, WORC President

September 2020 Program Recap


Masked Wild Ones and friends gathered for our first in–person meeting since February. The weather was perfect to be outside on the back deck to listen to Courtney Cheers, the Wittenbach Wege Center (WWC) director.

Courtney was introduced by Rebecca Marquardt, one of the naturalists at WWC and WORC programs co-chair. We learned some history of WWC from Courtney and then she went on to talk about Sustainable Agriculture, Native Plant Agriculture and Restoration Agriculture—planting sustainably grown native perennial food crops. She said that Michigan is perfect for Restoration Agriculture because most farms are modestly sized, 200 acres or less, and because Michigan is second to California in the array and diversity of crops and commodities produced here. With such a range of produced goods, our state is already able to get many different products to market.

Some native plants can be grown for Sustainable Agriculture. For example, hazelnuts; they not only are nutritious, but also their hulls burn at a higher BTU than cordwood. Other sustainable crops are native Aronia (black chokeberry), blackberry, blueberry, elderberry, hickory, huckleberry, oak (flour), pawpaw, hickory nuts and pecan (northern strain, Carya illinoinensis), persimmons, Prunus (black cherry, chokecherry and wild plum) and walnut. 

Courtney recommended these books: 
  • Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculturefor Farmers by Mark Shepard 
  • Native Plant Agriculture: Applicable to the Midwest, South, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Vol 1 by Indigenous Landscapes
Our group walked around the grounds looking at the abundance of native asters and goldenrods, the rain garden, and the prairie which is in its second year.

Lastly, we toured the Victory Garden with its rows of vegetable crops and raised beds. Students in Lowell are integral in the effort to provide food to the local food pantry, the Flat River Outreach Ministry each year, while satisfying the goal of the Wittenbach family—students should learn where their food comes from! The addition of pollinator strips that bookend the gardens draw honeybees from the managed hives as well as native bees to pollinate the fruits and vegetables.

We thank Courtney and Rebecca for the opportunity to see and hear about the wonderful work they are doing at WWC. 


Trees Down
By Ranger Steve Mueller
Strong winds whipped trees to the breaking point throughout the Cedar Springs area causing great damage. Power outage hit much of Cedar Springs where homes were without electricity for 24 hours or longer. 
Tiny insects like the Harvester butterfly survived. I saw one standing in its usual haunt on a following sunny day. My article in the November e-news will address the Harvester butterfly in detail.

At Ody Brook the top two thirds of a balsam fir in the yard was broken off. The tree was 30 feet tall. Now we wait to see if a branch will turn upward to replace the leader shoot. The tree was planted 35 years ago when my girls were young. We have pictures of them standing next to tree when they were taller than the tree. We experience loss when any friend dies. I try to be a good friend to the species living and sharing Ody Brook. Though I have documented less than a thousand species here, I expect the number could reach a few thousand with the wonderful variety of insects. 
There were ten locations with larger trees down across the trails that require chainsaw cutting to open the paths. Our mission is biodiversity enhancement at the sanctuary but we open our property for others to discover and learn. We have not charged for access to Ody Brook but donations are welcome for maintaining trails, signage and enhancing biodiversity. Wild Ones butterfly garden expansion and maintenance is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Trees down on powerlines in Cedar Springs and in other communities is an immediate safety hazard and loss of power threatens cold food storage and at certain times of the year home warmth and pipe freezing. Trees on buildings might open roofs to weather elements and internal damage. Things could be worse. 
The current fires in California, Oregon, Washington, and other western states dwarf our problems. The high magnitude hurricanes coming off the Gulf of Mexico recently devastated communities to a greater extent. Of course, we focus on our own local problems but we should recognize we are generating global problems through Anthropocene behavior. Rapid consumption of fossil fuels by humans is causing climate change. It is causing self-induced problems, financial expense, and loss of lives and livelihoods for people and wildlife.
Changing from fossil energy fuels to alternative solar and wind energy is a reasoned moderation with positive direction for present and future generations of people, wildlife and plant community nature niches. It will provide increased employment, improve the economy, and stabilize community social wellbeing. It will require a change in attitude and behavior for those wanting to keep things the same. Without change we allow living conditions to deteriorate for both present and future generations of people and other life.
Trees down in communities by severe storms is
symptomatic of global problems we are worsening by not proactively addressing climate changing behavior. We can increase employment by changing from fossil fuel use, improve the economy, help humans stave off self-generated life-threating problems, and be a solution that helps people and nature niches. Retraining worker livelihood skills from fossil fuel work to alternatives is good.
Dave Wagner and Weston Henry from the University of Connecticut recently concluded an article with “there is little doubt that the most important matters for those that value planetary biodiversity are to slow and mitigate climate change and the loss of tropical forests. These are the most urgent threats to butterflies and wildlife. We must dial back our use of fossil fuels, while simultaneously ramping up green energy technology and solutions.” 
We can choose a healthier future, but it requires us to unite for positive actions and behavioral change. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at - Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.
  • Wednesday, October 28  Insects in Decline: Conservation Opportunities
    Presented by Dr. Doug Landis, Professor of Entomology, Michigan State University.
  • Wednesday, November 18  You Planned and Planted: Now What? 
    Presented by David Mindell, Plantwise, Ann Arbor MI
Information on how to join these ZOOM presentations will be announced on the Kalamazoo Chapter's Programs Web page
Witch Hazel flowers, photo by Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Witch Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana

Compiled by Joyce Tuharsky

At a time when few plants are blooming, Witch hazel adds sparkle to the autumn landscape. The four narrow, crinkled petals of its yellow to cream-colored flowers create a delicate, spidery appearance on bare branches, persisting even after leaf-drop.

Hamamelis virginiana is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to eastern North America. It has a short trunk and numerous spreading, crooked branches. The young branches with slender zigzag twigs are brown and slightly fuzzy. With age, the thin bark turns a silver-grey with rough patches. The leaves are alternate, elliptic to nearly circular in shape, and irregularly round-toothed along their wavy edges. They are 2–6 inches long and have 5–7 prominent veins. Medium green above and pale below, the leaves turn bright yellow in the fall. At maturity, Witch hazel can reach 12 to 20 feet tall, spreading 10 to 15 feet wide.

Hamamelis is Greek for “fruit” and "together," referring to the plant's habit of producing flowers at the same time the previous year's fruits mature and disperse. The capsule-like fruit (1/2 inchoval, brown, woody, hairy) contains two shiny hard black seeds. These nutty seeds were savored by Indians of the south. After ripening the following summer, the capsules to split open explosively and shoot the seeds up to 30 ft in all directions.

The origin of the name Witch hazel is uncertain. It may have come from an Old English word “wyche” meaning “pliable”, because the twigs bend easily. It is called hazel because it resembles the hazelnut shrub, though it is not closely related. Witch hazel is also associated with divining for water as its forked branches were used by some early settlers to locate underground springs.

For centuries, Witch hazel oil has been has valued for is astringent, tonic and pain-relieving qualities. Today, it is one of very few American medicinal plants still approved in nonprescription drugs by the Food and Drug Administration. Recent studies have shown that Witch hazel may have antioxidant, radiation-protective, and antiviral properties, with potential for many more medical applications.

In the wild, Witch hazel often grows as an understory shrub, at the edge of a bog or field, preferring evenly moist, acidic soil. It provides seeds for birds, and browse for deer, rabbits and beaver. However, browsing doesn’t harm this plant, and can actually create a fuller shrub. Reasonably care-free, Witch hazel has been found to tolerate urban environments, and is rarely bothered by pests or diseases. The branches can be cut and brought indoors to flower where their soft sweet perfume can be savored. However, be careful to remove the seed capsules from the previous year…or the warm indoor air will cause them to split and spew out seeds across the room!

More information is available at:

Witch Hazel tree photo: John Ruter, University of Georgia,
Witch Hazel fruit photo: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Did You Know Wild Ones River City has a Private Facebook Group? 
Join our group to share photos of your native plants and have conversations with other native plant lovers! Ask to join by clicking on the blue bar (with "Visit Group" written on it) located under our name and profile picture on our Facebook page.


Interested in reading about the work of our national organization?
Download the documents below.

2020 Annual Report

Strategic Plan 2019–2021



The Wild Ones Digital Photo Contest is open to amateur photographers of all ages who earn less than 51 percent of their income from photography.

Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm on November 1, 2020. Entries that are submitted before or after the entry period will not be eligible.

Categories will include:
  • Native Flora
  • Pollinators
  • Wildlife
  • Natives in Home Landscapes
  • Wild Ones Member Projects
  • Youth - photographers 14–18
  • Youth - photographers 13 and under

Winners will be announced on Monday, November 16th, 2020. Cash prizes in the amount of $50 will be awarded to one Best of Show, five category winners, one winner in each youth category, and one People’s Choice winner.

Questions and inquiries about contest rules can be e-mailed to

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   Wild Ones River City Shop at CafePress

Visit to purchase our logo merchandise such as men's and women's apparel, hats, aprons, mugs, totes, and more! Proceeds help further our mission of promoting the use of native plants in the landscape. 
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