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Healing the earth, one yard at a time.
November 2019 e-news

In this issue:

November 18 Program
WORC Annual Meeting/Sweet & Savory Potluck

October Program Recap by Joyce Tuharsky
Native Plantings for Winter Birds presented by Melanie Manion

Proposed WORC Bylaws

November 7 Event
West Michigan Conservation Network Fall Feature
Understanding Our Water Limits

Learn and Serve Thank You

Wild Ones National & Chapter Forum - October 2019

Natives to Know • American Winterberry compiled by Joyce Tuharsky

Douglas Tallamy's New Book

Wild Ones River City Shop online at CafePress

Please scroll down for details.

 If you lose your Wild Ones River City Chapter email communications, you can find a link on our website home page in the right sidebar that directs you to the e-news archives.

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Come enjoy a relaxing evening with your fellow Wild Ones!

The evening will include:

  1. Sweet and Savory Potluck
  2. Rolling slide show of photos from 2019.
  3. State of our Chapter, with highlights of the past year and goals we have met. 
  4. Vote on 2020 officers. 
  5. Adoption of Bylaws. 
  6. Looking Forward—2020 Programs and Conference 2022.
  7. Break out sessions/discussion groups on topics of interest to members.

Sweet & Savory Potluck Details

  • Main dish (meat and vegetarian) will be provided.
  • If your name begins with A–M, please provide an appetizer or savory side dish.
  • If your name begins with N–Z, please bring a dessert.
  • To reduce waste, please bring your own table service. (Plate and flatware. Cups are provided.)
We are saving you a seat at our table!

Bunker Interpretive Center is located in the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens on the campus of Calvin University, 1750 East Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

October Program Recap 
by Joyce Tuharsky

Native Plantings for Winter Birds presented by Melanie Manion

No one is more enthusiastic than Melanie Manion when it comes to using native plants to feed birds during the winter. Melanie, Natural Resources Manager of Ottawa County Parks, says she is a bit lazy when it comes to filling and keeping bird feeders clean during winter months. Also, gathering birds together at one feeding site increases the possibility of spreading diseases. Instead, Melanie advocates filling your landscape with a variety of native plants that will provide a diverse seed source for birds throughout winter.
Goldenrod can be considered a keystone plant, supporting a number of insect species all year which in turn are eaten by birds. In the winter, because there are Goldenrod species for every eco-type in Michigan, they are an important seed source for many birds: Pine Siskins, Juncos, Tree Sparrows, and American Goldfinches. Other important sources of seed for winter birds include grasses such as Little Bluestem and 
Indiangrass, and composite flowers including coneflowers and asters.
Some birds, especially woodpeckers, need a lot of lipids (fat) in their diet. In the summer, they rely on insects for lipids. In the winter, they turn to seeds or berries that are high in fat content. Native species that have seeds high in lipids which birds love to eat 
include: Wild grape, Virginia creeper, Staghorn sumac, Black gum, and all dogwoods.
Many native shrubs grow berries that birds enjoy. The berries of Hazelnut and Michigan holly attract Wood Thrushes, Ruffed Grouse, Northern Flickers, and Pileated Woodpeckers. Elderberries have hollow stems used by wasps to over-winter. Birds will drill into the stems to eat the insects. Cedar waxwings love the berries of Common juniper and Highbush cranberry.
Oaks, Musclewood and other trees with deep fissures in their bark will harbor insects, even in winter. These insects are sought out by Brown creepers and woodpeckers. 
Evergreens are used by many birds for shelter during the winter. Therefore, to attract winter birds, it is recommended that 30% of your landscape be planted in evergreens such as pines, cedars, and hemlocks.

Wild Ones River City Chapter Proposed Bylaws 

Treasurer Ann Nowak, our resident lawyer, has been diligently working for the past nine months on drafting bylaws for the River City Chapter. We thank Ann for her efforts. Ann had input from Board member Betsy Ford, a retired lawyer, and the entire Board has made recommendations, reviewed and approved the draft. 

DOWNLOAD THE BYLAWS, and please take the time to read them over. The Board is recommending approval of the draft bylaws by membership vote at the November 18 Annual Meeting.
West Michigan Conservation Network Fall Feature
Understanding Our Water Limits
November 7

Muskegon Community College's Stevenson Center
221 South Quarterline Road
Muskegon, MI 49442

Doors open at 6:30 pm • Presentation 7:00 pm. 

Access to fresh drinking water is a privilege that sometimes we take for granted, especially those of us that live in the Great Lakes State. In Ottawa County, MI we are learning that our supposed limitless supply of fresh drinking water may be in jeopardy. Recent scientific studies have revealed that more water is being pumped from our natural underground water reservoir than can be replenished.

Hear Paul Sachs from Ottawa County discuss the unique geology of Ottawa County and how their supposed limitless supply of fresh drinking water may be in jeopardy. To register, visit


Our Learn and Serve sessions have come to a close for 2019. Many thanks to those who volunteered at our Native Plant Education Garden and the Prairie Habitat at Marywood. Hopefully, you were able to learn something new about native plants or share your knowledge while helping maintain these two gardens.

Amy Heilman, WORC Garden Chair
S. Lucille Janowiak, Prairie Habitat at Marywood

Diana Ruel and Ruth Oldenburg listen as Garden Chair, Amy Heilman, right, explains seed cleaning techniques at the October 15th Learn and Serve session at the Native Plant Education Garden on Cherry Street.

Wild Ones National & Chapter Forum - October 2019


Happy Halloween! Neenah, WI is getting its first snowfall of the season this week. All week. Supposedly it won’t stick. I hope not, because my snow tires are still in my shed. Most of the prairie has gone to seed, although we have a couple of resilient sweet brown-eyed Susan and a purple coneflower hanging on out there. As we head into winter weather (as in, whether I like it or not), I’m reminded that Wild Ones does not hibernate. There are lots of exciting things happening with the national office, our chapters and members across the country. Keep reading, and hopefully, there’s enough inspiring information to keep you warm until spring! 

In this Forum, see: 

1. Wild Ones Annual Member Meeting 
2. New Member Survey Summary 
3. National Board of Directors Elections 
4. Seeking a Pro Bono CPA 
5. What Have You Done for Me Lately? 
6. Repopulating the Public Website 
7. Chapter Mailing Lists 
8. Quick Reminders


Natives to Know • American Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Compiled by Joyce Tuharsky

American Winterberry is a holly prized for its splash of bright color from densely packed, red berries loaded on slender twigs. When contrasted against white snow on a sunny day, it is one of the prettiest shrubs in winter.

Winterberry is native to eastern North America from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and south to Alabama. Therefore, it has acquired several common names including Black Alder, Inkberry, Possumhaw, Swamp Holly, and...Michigan Holly!

Like most hollies, Winterberries are dioecious, meaning that it has separate male and female plants. Only fertilized flowers on the female plants produce the attractive red berries (actually drupes, 6–8 mm in size). The plant blooms in early June. The flowers are small, 5 mm diameter, with 5-8 cream white petals and are not especially showy. The male flowers grow in clusters, while the female flowers grow solitary or in 2's or 3's. The male flowers are loaded with yellow anthers (pollen-bearing structures), while the female flowers have a distinct green miniature "knob" in the center (immature ovule).

The plant itself is a multi-stemmed shrub, 6' to 10' tall, which tends to sucker and form large oval clumps. In the summer, the dark green leaves are alternate, 1.5" to 3" long, elliptical with an acute apex and serrate leaf margins. The leaves can vary from flat to shiny on the upper surface. Of the 400 species of hollies in the world, only about 30 are deciduous—and Winterberry is one of them, losing its leaves in the fall.

In the wild, Winterberry often occurs in low woods and along ponds and streams but is also found on dry dunes and grassland. In wet sites, it will spread to form a dense thicket, while in dry soil it remains a tight shrub. In summer, Winterberry provides nesting and cover for wildlife and nectar for insects. In winter, the fruit is an important food resource for many bird species.

Winterberry seeds possess a dormancy period making germination tricky. An easier way to propagate the plant is to root early summer cuttings. Otherwise, this plant is easy to grow with few diseases or pests. Although acidic soils are optimal, the Winterberry will grow well in the average soil in full to part sun. Generally, one male Winterberry is sufficient to pollinate 9-10 female plants. When using the branches covered with berries in floral arrangements, use dry (don't put in water) and they will keep for months indoors.

Warning: All hollies can be somewhat toxic if ingested. Small children are most vulnerable because of their small size and curiosity.

More information and photos available at:


If you are a fan of Douglas Tallamy's books Bringing Nature Home and The Living Landscape, you are in for a treat. This February, Tallamy is set to publish his latest book: Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard. 

Tallamy's books have revolutionized the way we landscape our yards. This winter would be a great time to read or re-read Tallamy's first two books, then come February you will be ready for his new book.

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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