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In this issue:

July 15 Event: 
Sixth Annual Wild Ones River City Chapter Garden Tour & Native Plant Sale
• Volunteer 
• Native Plant Sale Species List
• Book for Sale 
• Silent Auction 
• Fundraiser at Brewery Vivant

Learn and Serve July Schedule

June Program Recap:
If We Build It They Will Come: Research Results on Prairie Management
Presented by Dr. Rob Keys

Garden Walkabouts

"Wild Weeding" at Ranger Steve Mueller's Odybrook Nature Sanctuary

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.

Please add to your contacts list. 
Check out our list of 2019 Programs online or download the 2019 Programs pdf.
2019 Program Schedule

Spread the word about our July 15 event.
Download the event flyer and share with your friends and family!

Wild Ones Garden Tour Native Plant Sale-2019.pdf

More information about the July 15 Garden Tour & Native Plant Sale:

  • Native Plant and Shrub Sale 
    featuring 13 species of perennials and 5 species of shrubs
    Perennials $6 quart pots
    Shrubs $8, $12, $15 depending on pot size (quart, gallon, 1.5 gallons)
    Cash, Check, or Credit Card
  • Native Garden Experts on hand to answer questions
  • Native Plant Education table with free handouts
  • Book Sale - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz, $20 (list price $26.95)
  • Silent Auction - Two original oil paintings by Barbara Leighty and the Friendly Bees beeBOX™
  • Fundraiser for Wild Ones across the street at Brewery Vivant. The Brewery will donate $1 for every beer sold on 7/15/19.

Volunteer at the June 15 Garden Tour & Native Plant Sale

Contact Marti MacArthur
Call or Text 616.893.9309

WO 2019 Species List pdf

Actea rubra/Red Baneberry
Aralia racemosa/Spikenard
Asarum canadense/Wild Ginger
Asclepias incarnata/Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa/Butterfly Weed
bracteata/Cream Wild Indigo
occidentalis var. occidentalis/Purple Clematis
macrophylla/Big Leaf Aster
cylindracea/Dwarf Blazing Star
Polygonatum biflorum/Smooth Solomon’s seal
albidum/blue-eyed grass
rigida/Stiff Goldenrod
aurea/Golden Alexanders

Diervilla lonicera/Bush Honeysuckle
Hypericum prolificum/Shrubby St. John’s Wort
Lindera benzoin/Spicebush
Sambucus canadensis/Black Elderberry
Viburnum dentatum/Arrowwood Viburnum

*Species subject to availability at time of sale

Book for Sale at our July 15th Garden Tour & Plant Sale

The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants 

Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz, Ohio University Press
$20 (list price $26.95)

Winner of the 2012 Helen Hull Award, presented by the National Garden Clubs.

Midwestern gardeners and landscapers are becoming increasingly attracted to noninvasive regional native wildflowers and plants over popular nonnative species. The Midwestern Native Garden offers viable alternatives to both amateurs and professionals, whether they are considering adding a few native plants or intending to go native all the way. Native plants improve air and water quality, reduce use of pesticides, and provide vital food and reproductive sites to birds and butterflies that nonnative plants cannot offer, helping bring back a healthy ecosystem.

The authors provide a comprehensive selection of native alternatives that look similar or even identical to a range of nonnative ornamentals. These are native plants that are suitable for all garden styles, bloom during the same season, and have the same cultivation requirements as their nonnative counterparts. Plant entries are accompanied by nature notes setting out the specific birds and butterflies the native plants attract.

The Midwestern Native Garden will be a welcome guide to gardeners whose styles range from formal to naturalistic but who want to create an authentic sense of place, with regional natives. The beauty, hardiness, and easy maintenance of native Midwestern plants will soon make them the new favorites.

Silent Auction to be held at July 15 Garden Tour & Native Plant Sale

As many of you have seen on our event advertising cards and posters, Wild Ones River City Chapter (WORC) had planned on holding a raffle at our July 15 event. However, the Michigan Gaming Commission has rejected our license application because we are a registered non-profit in Wisconsin (not Michigan) under the National Wild Ones. So plan B is we are holding a Silent Auction.

Three items have been donated for the auction:

  • Framed, original oil painting by local artist, Barbara Leighty (21” x 25”) Valued at  $500.
  • Unframed, original oil painting by local artist, Barbara Leighty (7” x 5”) Valued at $125. 
  • the Friendly Bees beeBOX™, an ecologically beneficial home for native pollinators valued at $93.
Bidding starts at 5 pm and ends at 7:15 pm.
Need not be present to win. 


The WORC Chapter thanks Barbara Leighty and  WORC member Gabrielle Tremblay Sullivan of the Friendly Bees for their generous donations.
Fundraiser for Wild Ones River City Chapter at Brewery Vivant

Once again, Brewery Vivant has kindly offered to donate $1 for every beer sold during pub hours 3-11 pm on July 15 to our chapter. 

Round up your friends and head over to Brewery Vivant at 925 Cherry Street SE, for a brew before or after you visit the  Garden Tour and Native Plant Sale.

CHEERS for Brewery Vivant!

Mark your Calendar for these July Volunteer 

Learn and Serve at the Prairie Habitat at Marywood
2025 E. Fulton at the NW Corner of Fulton and Lakeside Dr
Park next to
the site at the Marywood Health Center lot.
July 8, Monday • 9:30–11:30 am
Questions? Contact Sr. Lucille Janowiak,

Learn and Serve in our Native Plant Education Garden
920 Cherry Street, GR  
In front of the beautiful Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) building.
Park in the large lot on the east side of ICCF.

July 24, Wednesday • 10 am-Noon
Questions? Contact Amy Heilman, Garden Chair

 As the dates draw nearer, more information about the garden learning topics, tasks, and tools needed will be sent out via email to members. Remember to dress for the weather.

by Ruth Oldenburg, Communication Chair

If We Build It They Will Come: Research Results on Prairie Management
Presented by Dr. Rob Keys, Professor of Science, Cornerstone University

It was an overcast evening, and sixteen Wild Ones members made the hour drive to the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute near Hastings. Enthusiasm was high right on arrival as we were delighted to see so many species blooming at the entrance near their sign and covering the building’s berms. The golden yellow Sand Coreopsis was the dominant species mixed with Wild Lupine, Wild Columbine and Prairie Smoke among many others.

We were greeted by Dr. Rob Keys, Professor of Science at Cornerstone University and he introduced us to the Institutes’s Stewardship Coordinator, Rickie Oldenkamp, and research students Jess and Cory.

This is Dr. Keys' 15th year of conducting research at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (PCCI) during the summer months. He has led research students for five years. The first year, the students mapped out the entire acreage.

Dr. Keys specializes in the study of birds. He showed us photos of the six "obligate" grassland birds—those that nest only in grasslands. Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Dickcissel, Henslow’s Sparrow (State Endangered), Grasshopper Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow. Grassland birds depend on insect diversity to feed their young. They nest in the grass out of sight from their predators. But the problem was that none of these species were nesting in PCCI grasslands. 

Ironically, they found that Henslow’s Sparrows were nesting in nearby old fallow farm fields, where they counted 70 singing males. At the Kent County Airport, 60th Avenue to the viewing area on Kraft, is a one-mile long grassland where they have seen many Bobolinks and Henslow’s Sparrows.

PCCI has reconstructed four prairies of 20-25 acres each on the property in hopes that as in the Field of Dreams movie (“If you build it they will come”) the biodiversity of insects, birds and plants would increase. While the plant and insect biodiversity has increased, Keys reported that the obligate bird population has not.

Dr. Keys' (pictured left) goal was to find out why. He has two hypotheses: first, that birds don’t recognize PCCI grasslands as a good habitat, or that, second, some feature is making the grassland unattractive to birds.

We walked around the first prairie which had been drill seeded with forbs and totally burned in year two. Dr. Keys explained that prairie seed mixes are heavy on three species of warm-season grasses, Indian Grass, Big Bluestem and Switchgrass. Since these grasses are inexpensive, they comprise the majority of seed in prairie mixes. 40–50% is typically Big Blue Stem. The warm-season grasses tend to take over the forbs, so drill seeding would greatly increase the forb diversity. 

The problem with Big Bluestem is that when their stiff canes fall they form a dense mat which is a problem for obligate birds. These birds like to run through the grass to escape predators. But the dense mats of Big Bluestem canes make it difficult for them to run through. So by decreasing the biomass by burning or mechanically chopping it, makes the prairie more suitable for obligate birds. In the past, in the Great Plains, the warm season grasses didn’t get out of hand because Buffalo and other grazers kept it shorter. Also, natural burning took place started by lightning. Research student Cory is doing his Capstone project on burning practices.

A question was asked about the possibility of grazing at PCCI prairies. Dr. Keys said he would choose cows over sheep to graze as a way to keep the prairie in check. Sheep are indiscriminate eaters—they eat everything. Dr. Keys explained that he visited Ireland where cows graze on the dunes. Ecologists thought that the cows would ruin the dune’s biodiversity so they banned the cows from the dunes. This was a mistake, the dunes suffered without the cows because cows are discriminate eaters. They eat only grass making way for the forbs to grow. They brought the cows back to the dunes to graze and over time the biodiversity returned. Cows, however, are not practical at PCCI because it is public land with people using it.

Jess explained that she goes out from 6:30–10:30 am and records a bird count on her iPad. They have recorded 6 Henslow’s Sparrows so that is a good sign that the adding of more forbs and burning the biomass is helping. Prescribed burns are done at PCCI every 3–5 years. Tree seedlings are reduced. Mechanical mowing is done in the Fall. 

PCCI is located on a prairie/hardwood transition zone. In the past, there were more Oak Savannahs in the area than prairies. The Schoolcraft area used to be home to large prairies that are now farmland.

We learned that semi-obligate birds, such as Song Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and Common Yellow Throats, like the edges of prairies. 

Next, we viewed their second prairie where the PCCI team has taken a different approach. This prairie was mechanically disked and hand broadcasted with forbs in a Fall planting. Here Jess explained that they do tests with a 50 cm x 20 cm Daubenmire frame made of PVC pipe. They collect all the plant material within the frame, shred it, dry it, and weigh it to determine the weight of the biomass. (Biomass is the weight of the mass minus the water). They also use a sweep net and walk 20 meters swinging a net back and forth, collecting all the insects in that area and then freezing them for study.

It was getting late, so we were unable to walk to the third prairie, but Dr. Keys talked a bit about it. This prairie is managed by rotation mowing with a flail mower. To simulate grazing, 1 hectare (10,000 sq. meters) a week is mowed. The researchers mark the bird’s nests before they mow. Then a large swath is left around the nests. 

In a fourth area, they are recreating an Oak Savannah. The area was formerly a soybean field. They planted oak trees in the Spring.

Take away:

Recreating prairies does greatly increase the biodiversity of plants, insects, and pollinators. But for grassland birds, “building it does not make them come.” Prairies need to be managed. 

Dr. Keys hopes that their research becomes a model that can help others.

We thank Dr. Keys, his students, and Rickie Oldenkamp of PCCI for a fascinating look at prairie management.

Photos by Valerie Lindeman, Gabrielle Tremblay Sullivan, and Ruth Oldenburg

Garden Walkabouts

First scheduled Walkabout is August 10, 1–3 pm at member Keasha Palmer's home - 6346 Woodwater, Belmont.

Wild Ones
River City Chapter is still seeking hosts for "Walkabouts"—informal tours of home gardens and landscapes managed by members. We'd like to visit gardens of ALL sizes, small to large!
  • Walkabouts last about two hours, with guests coming and going.
  • Hosts select the day and time.
  • Walkabouts will be held rain or shine.
  • Walkabout dates will be announced via our regular email communications.
NOTE: This is not a garden “inspection.” (We all deal with weeds!  If you choose to offer refreshments (not required or expected) keep it very simple. 

If you are interested in hosting a Walkabout, download the form hereReturn your completed form to any board member at a general meeting, or mail to Marty Arnold, 2319 Lake Michigan Dr. NW 49504. If you have questions, please contact Marty, or call 616.791.4534.

Some "Wild Weeding" was done at Ranger Steve's butterfly garden at Odybrook Nature Sanctuary on June 26. It was a bright sunny day, and much was accomplished.

Pictured left to right: Gretchen Zuiderveen, Chuck Vannette, Ruth Oldenburg, and Mindy Miner—brandishing her soil knife!

Other weeders not pictured but appreciated: Lynn Dandridge and Kathy Reed.

Wild Ones River City Shop at CafePress

These items will be sold at our July 15 Garden Tour & Plant Sale


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. 

Copyright © 2019 Wild Ones River City-Grand Rapids Area Chapter, All rights reserved.

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