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Healing the earth, one yard at a time.
Photo by WORC member Valerie Lindeman
February 2020 e-News

In this issue:
  • February 17 Program • Bring Back the Pollinators: 
    Strategies to Promote Pollinators in Your Yard

    Presented by Dr. Rufus Isaacs, Professor of Entomology, MSU

  • March 1 & 2 • 2020 Annual Wildflower Conference
  • 2020 WORC Officers and Board Members
  • Quotes from WORC Members
  • Gardening with Native Prairie Plants in the early 20th Century
  • Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds
  • Natives to Know • Wintergreen compiled by Joyce Tuharsky
  • Writers Wanted
  • Thank you from Vermont
  • Support Wild Ones through AmazonSmile
  • Doug Tallamy's New Book Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard
  • 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. 
Photo by Valerie Lindeman


February 17 • 6:30 pm–8:30 PM

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

Bring Back the Pollinators: Strategies to Promote Pollinators in Your Yard
Presented by Dr. Rufus Isaacs, Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist at MSU

Dr. Isaacs will update the group on the ongoing research at Michigan State University to understand the identity, status, and trends of wild bees in Michigan. This will be partnered with a discussion of the benefit of small local actions that can magnify to support pollinators at the county and state levels. 

Dr. Rufus Isaacs is a professor and extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University, where he directs the Berry Crops Entomology program. Dr. Isaacs received his BS and Ph.D. from Imperial College at the University of London. He has worked as an agricultural entomologist for twenty years conducting research in vegetable, field crop, and fruit agriculture, studying various aspects of insect behavior, ecology, and management. Pollinator conservation and pollination of fruit crops is the current focus of his lab, where he works with students and postdoctoral researchers to develop strategies for sustainable pollination. Their recent studies have identified the native bee community in blueberry farms, examined bee-pesticide interactions, and quantified the contribution of native bees to crop pollination. Current research projects are exploring the role of farmland conservation practices in supporting beneficial insects, including bees, at fruit farms. Dr. Isaacs is the director of the SCRI Integrated Crop Pollination Project.

Coming up in March:

Birds, Bugs, Native Plants and Much More:
Inviting the Web of Life into our Yard

Presented by the WORC Education Committee

To see the entire program listings for 2020 click below or

download Programs PDF

Wildflower Association of Michigan
2020 Annual Wildflower Conference

Sunday, March 1 & Monday, March 2

Ecosystems in a Changing World
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Michigan State University (map)

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Gerould Wilhelm
Renown botanist and lichenologist

Visit the conference website for details and registration.
2020 Wild Ones River City
Officers and Board Members

Marti MacArthur, President

Linda Gary, Vice President

Ann Nowak, Treasurer

Joyce Tuharsky, Secretary

Keasha Palmer

Barbara Olson

Marty MacCleery, Education Chair  

Betsy Ford, Membership Chair

Amy Heilman, Garden Site Chair

Ruth Oldenburg, Communication Chair

Program Chair – TBD

Quotes from
WORC Members

“To keep your native gardens neat (and your neighbors happy) define those areas with grass and clear, tidy paths. Move big plants that might flop toward the back and keep neater plants near the edge.”

“I just learned about Kim Eierman's podcast called EcoBeneficial and listened to two interviews, one with Majorie Harris and the other with Nancy Lawson, the author of The Humane Gardener, and both were wonderful! You can watch past episodes on YouTube or at

“One of the great things about being in WORC is that you not only learn from the speakers—but from each other.”

“If a plant doesn’t thrive in its location, don’t hesitate to move it!”
Do you like to take notes and write?

In an effort to involve more members, we are asking for volunteers to take notes at our programs and write a short recap (2–3 paragraphs, or more if you like) about our programs. Choose to volunteer for just one month or more. You would have roughly 10 days to write the recap. It will will appear in the following month's e-News, on our website blog, and on our Facebook page via a link.

If interested email Ruth Oldenburg at
If we don't have a scheduled person for the evening, our president will be asking for a volunteer right before each program and a notebook will be provided.

In addition, new content is always welcome for submission to our monthly e-News!

Notebook created by macrovector -
A Thank You From Vermont

Ones River City Chapter received the following e-mail December 17, 2019:

As a member of my horticulture society out here in Rutland Vermont, I’m sending the team at Wild Ones Natural Landscapers a thank you note for putting together your Educational Resources page! Our club has teamed up with our local parks and recreation department; each week we host educational seminars to teach our community all about the importance of flora and fauna and environmental conservation.

We really wanted to do a lesson on creating wildlife habitats in your backyard. I mean, who wouldn’t want to plant a garden to see beautiful birds, butterflies, and other wildlife right outside their window? 

Your website led us to some great native plant information to include in the seminar! Thanks again for the help! With that being said, I was hoping you could add an additional link to your page?

Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Backyard

I thought it would make a welcomed addition as it has a ton of information on gardening to attract butterflies and other pollinators, which is so important! Plus, I’d be delighted to show my group we’re doing our part to sustain wildlife (and the planet) for future generations!

Thanks again for all you’re doing for the environment!

Jan Baker

Editor's note:
We have added Jan's recommended link to our EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES page on our website.

Kudos to our Education Committee for their hard work providing useful information about native plants. When Marty MacCleery, our Education Chair read the thank you, she replied: "It is so gratifying that our educational materials are reaching others and inspiring them … kind of like little gift packets of knowledge spreading and taking root on the cloud!" 

The Prairie Spirit in
Landscape Gardening

"This 1915 publication from the University of Illinois Department of Horticulture offers a fascinating look at past gardening practices incorporating native prairie plants."
—University of Illinois Extension

Read about this publication in Historical Advocacy by Ryan Pankau published in the Illinois News-Gazette, January 4, 2020.

Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds

The following is from Cornell Lab eNews.
To read the full article click here.

  1. Make Windows Safe, Day and Night
  2. Keep Cats Indoors
  3. Reduce Lawn, Plant Natives
  4. Avoid Pesticides
  5. Drink Coffee That's Good for Birds
  6. Protect Our Planet From Plastic
  7. Watch Birds, Share What You See
3. Reduce Lawn, Plant Natives
The challenge:
 Birds have fewer places to safely rest during migration and to raise their young: More than 10 million acres of land in the United States were converted to developed land from 1982 to 1997 (source).

The cause: Lawns and pavement don’t offer enough food or shelter for many birds and other wildlife. With more than 40 million acres of lawn in the U.S. alone (source), there’s huge potential to support wildlife by replacing lawns with native plantings.

Add native plants, watch birds come in: Native plants add interest and beauty to your yard and neighborhood, and provide shelter and nesting areas for birds. The nectar, seeds, berries, and insects will sustain birds and diverse wildlife.

Get started today: Find out which native plants are best for your area

Photo by Valerie Lindeman

Natives to Know • Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens
Compiled by Joyce Tuharsky

Although the term “wintergreen” applies to any plant that remains green throughout the year, the “Wintergreen plant” is a title that refers to the genus Gaultheria and is notable as the original source of the wintergreen oil used in flavoring candies, chewing gum, and toothpaste.

Gaultheria procumbent is native to northeastern North America. Technically a small shrub, it grows 6 to 12 inches tall and spreads only about 4 inches annually. The dark green glossy leaves are less than an inch long, alternate, simple, and oval-shaped with bristly-toothed edges. When crushed, the leaves release the distinct scent of wintergreen.

In favorable conditions, our native Wintergreen can bloom twice a year, in spring and then again toward summer's end; so a plant can have ripe berries, green berries, & blooms all at once. The small dangling flowers can be difficult to see, but are uniquely urn-shaped, pale white in color, sometimes tinged with pink. The bright red berries are actually dry capsules surrounded by fleshy calyx, 6–9 mm in diameter. The fruit, which are edible, can be positively identified by a five-pointed star on the underside.

Wintergreen is not eaten in large quantities by wildlife, but its regularity of use points to its importance. The berries, which persist throughout winter, provide food for squirrels, chipmunks, deer, mice, grouse, partridges, bobwhites, turkeys, and even red fox in emergencies. One of the few sources of green in winter, the leaves are relished by deer and bears.

Wintergreen has gained a number of regional names such as Teaberry, Leatherleaf, Boxberry, and Canadian Mint. Once famous as a native tea, its use as tea has fallen since people have forgotten how to prepare it. While the leaves can be harvested at any time of year, they must be fermented before drying to make tea.

Native Americans taught white immigrants to use Wintergreen leaves medicinally. It actually contains the same methyl salicylates that are in aspirin and also has antiseptic qualities. However, the oil of wintergreen can be toxic if ingested in large amounts.

Wintergreen provides a beautiful ground cover suitable for woodland plantings, rock gardens, or heather gardens. But it can be difficult to grow unless it has the right conditions: cool, damp, well-drained, acidic soil amended with organic matter, light to full shade. It will not tolerate heavy clay or limey soil. It is propagated by seeds or rhizomes.

More information and photos are available at: 

Photo: Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service,

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If you are a fan of Douglas Tallamy's books Bringing Nature Home and The Living Landscape, you are in for a treat. February 4, Tallamy is set to release his latest book: Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard. 

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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