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Healing the earth, one yard at a time.
Bumblebee on Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) one of the first Spring ephemerals to bloom.
Photo by Valerie Lindeman
March 2020 e-News

In this issue:
  • March 16 Program • Birds, Insects, Native Plants and Much More:
    Presented by Marty MacCleery and the Education Committee

  • February Program Recap Compiled by Diane Phelps
    Saving the Bees One Garden(er) at a time
    Presented by Dr. Rufus Isaacs, Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist, MSU
  • Conservation Showcase & Dinner
  • Quotes from WORC Members
  • Natives to Know • Mayapple compiled by Joyce Tuharsky
  • Review of Doug Tallamy's New Book 
    Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard

  • Cambridge University's King's College Chapel Lawn to Become Meadow
    BBC News • January 21, 2020

  • Wild Ones River City Shop online at CafePress
Scroll down for details.
Cedar Waxwing • Photo by Valerie Lindeman


March 16 • 6:30 pm–8:30 PM

Bunker Interpretive Center at Calvin University
1750 E. Beltline Ave SE • Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Birds, Insects, Native Plants and Much More: Inviting the Web of Life into Your Yard

This program is a result of the collaborative work of the Education Committee of Wild Ones River City Chapter (WORC).

At the conclusion of the program, Education Committee members will individually highlight their favorite native plant book and explain why it’s their favorite! 

Presented by Martha MacCleery, WORC Education Chair

The program will offer wonderful nuggets of information for beginners, veterans, and everyone in between!

  • What is our cultural history of large lawns and choosing exotic plants for our landscapes? 
  • How do native plants increase insects in our yard and thus help birds? 
  • How to transform your yard into a nourishing “foraging hub” that provides ecosystem services such as food, shelter, and nesting sites for wildlife? 
  • Should your yard be all native plants? Not necessarily.  
  • Are there differences in ecosystem services provided by native plants? Yes! 
  • What are some of the native plants and shrubs that will be available this Spring and what are their requirements?
The program will include insights from Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas Tallamy.
"Juicy caterpillars like the spin oak slug (Euclea delphinii) provide valuable nutrients
and energy for birds and other animals." —Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home.
Native trees that produce berries are an essential food source for birds.

Speaker Bio:
Martha (Marty) MacCleery became reawakened to her love of gardening while spending a decade in Wilmington, DE. Marty and her son, Beau, became enthralled with Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, as well as, Mt Cuba Center and Winterthur in Wilmington, DE. She was inspired to apply what she’d learned at these wonderful institutions to her own yard, and thus began a life-long passion.

Although her working career was science-based (medical records administration, pharmaceutical research & development, including sales), gardening satisfies both her love of science and the arts. She joyfully shares her love of insects, plants, and animals with young children in 4-H, leads public tours as a volunteer docent at Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and serves as chair of the Education Committee at Wild Ones River City Chapter. She is also an Advanced Master Gardener and Master Naturalist through MSU Extension.

Marty MacCleery pictured with the WORC educational display at the annual garden tour and plant sale.

Monarch Butterflies, Migration and Human Impact
Presented by Stephen B. Malcolm, Chemical Ecologist and Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences, WMU.

To see the entire program listings for 2020 click below or download the 2020 Programs PDF


Compiled by Diane Phelps

Saving the Bees One Garden(er) at a time

Presented by Dr. Rufus Isaacs, Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist, MSU

Dr. Isaacs' work is mainly in fruit crops from Barry County to Traverse City in Michigan. He studies the economic impact on fruit crops as the result of declining honey bee population and the effect of native wild bees here.

Almost all plants are pollinated by bees as opposed to wind or other factors. Plants that are visited by bees produce larger, more abundant fruit than those that aren’t. Bees are of great importance to fruit farmers. In temperate regions especially, 78% of pollination is reliant on insects and other animals.

  • Fruit farming in Michigan
  • Almonds in California
  • Forage plants for feed to livestock
  • Coffee

Their value to blueberry farms has been studied and found 80% of pollination depends on bees and other pollinators. Blueberries crops bring in approximately $120 million.

Honeybees were brought over to North America by the early settlers to provide them with honey to sweeten their food and for bee's wax.

Find out more 
from Michigan Beekeepers Association.

Honeybees are:

  • the bees that are most known by the public
  • a managed population, non-native to the U.S.
  • managed by 100 families in Michigan as “professional beekeepers”
  • used by beekeepers to contract with farmers, who use the managed hives to pollinate their crops

The Bee-Poc-Alypse, as written about in non-scientific journals has made the general population aware of the plight of bees.

Bee populations have suffered severe losses in recent years due to:

  1. Parasites - mites in the honeybee has been measured at taking out 50% of a given population
  2. Poor nutrition - the decreased diversity of plants, i.e. more monoculture lawns
  3. Pathogens
  4. Pesticides - (the only “safe” one has BT) are often sprayed too close to the native plants that feed the bees.

Wild bees vs. honey bees—is like comparing—a chicken vs. a wild bird. Honeybees and chickens are both commercially managed.

Wild Bees:

  • usually are ground-nesting
  • normally are solitary
  • some live in cavities
  • a few live in hives
In Michigan we have:
  • 465 species, (4,000 in the U.S., 20,000 worldwide)
  • 3 exotic species
  • 1 newly identified species
Wild bees are not doing well—they are in decline as the plant habitat diversity decreases. There has been a 2/3rd  decline of population of native wild bees in Michigan over the last 14 years. American bumblebee has declined 98%, Yellow banded bumblebee has declined 71%, and the Rusty Patched Bumblebee has not been spotted in Michigan. A 100 % decline in that species. 

Studies monitoring bumblebees in Michigan has seen:
  • American bumble bee decline 98%
  • Yellow Banded decline 71%
  • Rusty Patched decline 100%, last seen in 1999
  • a 50% decline in range
How can gardeners help?
  • Increase diversity of flowers, especially natives
  • Make a more appealing design—keep tidy plants in the front and wilder habitat towards the back of beds
  • Leave some undisturbed soil and tree snags for nesting sites
  • Use Integrated Pest Management (the only safe pesticide is BT)
  • Encourage habitat restoration, small or large
  • Through public participation in monitoring of wild bee populations

Which native plants support bees? A study of 50 plants was done at MSU, results were shown in slide form and can be found on the website, which also has a plant search tool and list of trees for bees.

Other resources mentioned:

Dave Goulson, book The Garden Jungle: or Gardening to Save the Planet
Heather Holm, books Pollinators of Native Plants, and Bees: 
An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide
iNaturalist app - monitor bees, plants, and animals
Queen Quest - bumblebee queen phenology project that uses the iNaturalist app.
Bumblebee Watch - citizen scientist program on MSU website
Pollinator Champions - MSU educational program
National Pollinator Week - June 22–28, events all over the state

We thank Dr. Rufus Isaacs for his very informative and enlightening presentation.

Conservation Showcase & Dinner
March 18 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

All are cordially invited to Kent Conservation District’s Annual Showcase and Dinner on Wednesday, March 18th, at the Kent Career Technical Center. The Showcase presentation, Farm Stories 2020: This is Where We are Planted, will celebrate the resilient farmers we have the honor to serve as your local Conservation District. Learn how farm families are overcoming the many challenges of today while protecting the land essential for our prosperity tomorrow.
  • In addition to an update on our invasive species control program from Kent Innovative High, this year we are working to assemble a panel of local agricultural producers to comment on how the extreme weather has impacted their farms' land/harvest. Guest speakers include an MSU agronomist and Matt Soehnel promoting RCPP.
  • When: All are welcome to attend this special event on Wednesday, March 18th. Doors open at 5 pm. Dinner will be served buffet style starting at 5–6 pm. Presentation from 6–8 pm.
  • Where: Kent Career Technical Center 1655 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525 (42.993404, -85.595778) Please use Parking Lot #3.
  • RSVP: Get free tickets for dinner on Eventbrite or (616) 222-5801by March 14th. Walk-ins welcome to presentation.
WORC Member Quotes

“Plants are called by different common names in different areas, which can be confusing. So be sure to learn the proper names of your Michigan native plants.”

“I've gotten really interested in insects. There’s a great blog; its educator is a photographer whose insect photos are incredible. Fortunately, I've seen and identified a number of the insects featured!”  

“The speaker on soil, Mike Klug was fascinating; I learned how all things are connected…”
Natives to Know • Mayapple Podophyllum peltatum
Compiled by Joyce Tuharsky

It’s no coincidence that many of our native woodland plants flower in early spring. They are taking advantage of the sunshine that hits the forest floor before the trees fully leaf out. Many of these plants have flowers that point downwards, beneath their foliage, to tempt early insects emerging close to the ground. To see these flowers, you often have to get down to ground level.

One such early plant is the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). Perhaps the showiest aspect of this perennial is its large, twin, umbrella-like leaves on a solitary stem. The leaves remain closed as the stem lengthens, unfolding 6–8 inches across when the plant has reached a height of 1–2 feet. Each leaf is rubbery yet smooth, deeply lobed, and composed of 5–7 wedge-shaped divisions.

In May or June, one pure white drooping flower will emerge between the axil of the 2 leaves. These flowers are about 2 inches wide and shaped like a cup, with 6–9 waxy white petals and many stamens.

Pollinated flowers will produce large yellow fruits in Fall. The fruit is lemon-shaped, fleshy, contains many seeds—and is a favorite food of box turtles! The ripe fruit (lemon-like flavor) is also edible in limited amounts by humans and has been used to make preserves and marmalade. However, CAUTION: all other parts of the Mayapple (leaves, roots, and unripe fruit) are poisonous.

The root of the Mayapple is composed of many thick tubers, fastened by fleshy fibers, which spread greatly underground. Over time, the plant can spread to form large colonies.

Interestingly, Mayapple flowers require cross-pollination with another Mayapple to set fruit (they are self-sterile). But since the plant often grows in clonal colonies, a given flower may not produce fruit if a Mayapple of a different genetic line is not nearby.

Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin which is used to synthesize drugs for treating certain cancers and leukemias. Currently, the commercial source of podophyllotoxin is from an endangered species of the Himalayas. Recent studies have concluded that the leaf blades of the North American Mayapple could serve as an alternative source of podophyllotoxin.

Mayapples are excellent for naturalizing in moist woodland settings or native plant gardens with partial sun. However, like many other early spring “ephemerals,” the plants slowly wither as they go dormant later in summer. Therefore, Mayflowers are not considered a good border plant.

For more information and photos:

PA Media

Cambridge University's King's College Chapel Lawn to Become Meadow
BBC News • January 21, 2020

"A famous University of Cambridge view is set for a change as a pristine lawn maintained for centuries is transformed into a wildflower meadow." Read more...
There can be no purpose more inspiring than to begin the age of restoration, reweaving the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds us. —E. O. Wilson.
Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Doug Tallamy

Review by Sue Dingwell
Master Naturalist, FL and VA, Master Gardener
Beautiful Native Plants blog • February 4, 2020

"In his new book, Nature’s Best Hope, Dr. Doug Tallamy has delivered a deep and powerful wellspring of inspiration for the many people craving an opportunity to be part of transformative change for our challenged world. Even more compelling than his first book, Bringing Nature Home, a seminal work in itself, Nature’s Best Hope is a clarion call for the informed appreciation of native plants and the immediate course correction of using them in our own planting spaces to form the connected corridors that will help forestall the loss of species and the loss of ecosystem services that are we currently experiencing."  Read more...
“Landscapes need to be more than just pretty. By planting productive native species, we can create life. Everybody has a responsibility to nurture as much life in our outdoor surroundings as possible to maintain a stable and functional ecosystem.”
—Douglas Tallamy

Wild Ones River City Shop at CafePress


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