First, I must give my thanks to Deborah Farrell, who served as president in our first year. Without her initial work, I would probably not be embarking on the interesting project that lies before me: how to promote the mission of Wild Ones while helping us grow.
While the mission of most environmental groups seeks to preserve and protect wild areas, Wild Ones takes this a step further. We want more. We want to take the wild areas home with us! Why?
Well, for me, part of it is my gardener mentalitythe love of planting and watching things grow and develop.
Then there is something else. Through the years, I have worked with the many varieties of plants from all over the world, which have been tested and hybridized to grow in our area. I studied their culture and learned to use them in landscape design. Eventually, I felt as if I were designing with no context.
If one agrees that plant material largely defines the quality of a site, and that quality defines and locates that space, then you totally lose your context when you use mostly nonnative plants. I began to see that in order for my work to have a real "sense of place," and in order to serve my clients on the deepest level, I would have to find out what the native Michigan landscape was all about.
So what is it I wanted more of? I think it is a connectiona connection to where I am in this world. A connection to the geology, soils, climate, and ecosystem that evolved before me and in this particular spot for thousands of years. This makes sense to me. I still love some of those nonnatives, but I see them differently. How should everything come together? That's what I'm working on.
Virginia Chatfield, President
by Vicki Gagne
Deb Farrell has recently finished her term as president of the Flint Chapter of the Wild Ones. Without Deb, there would be no Flint Chapter. After reading Noah's Garden by Sara Stein and hearing speakers such as Bob Grese, past president of the Ann Arbor Chapter of Wild Ones, and Neil Diebold, owner of the Prarie Nursery in Minnesota, Deb realized the great impact the loss of much of our native flora has had on our environment.
by Jeff and Karen Keelor
Several years ago, after reading about backyard habitats, my wife and I decided not to mow a part of our backyard. It measures about 130' wide by 30' deep. On it there are several pine trees, an apple tree, a Russian olive, and an oak. The area abuts the yard of a neighbor who has lived there longer than we. When we asked his permission, he said he didn't mind if part of our land went back to nature. I guess we are lucky to have neighbors like that.
Our thought is to make our yard a natural habitat for all living things. Every year we hope to create new little areas of flowers and vegetables with wood chips around for borders and walkways. We were very proud of ourselves as grasses came up knee high around the trees.
Recently we joined the local Wild Ones to share our knowldege and to learn more. What we learned is that we can take our yard another step toward being a natural habitat by planting native grasses and plants. We hadn't realized that our "knee high grasses" were just weeds allowed to flourish.
We also learned that unless I want to dig up the whole area, I should use "Roundup." "Heaven forbid," I thought. "Using chemicals on my yard?" I learned that "Roundup" is temporary and will not affect the groundwater. This may be the way we want to go, and we are anxious to get started. We have other ideas about making yards more environmentally friendly, which we will share in another article.
by Vicki Gagne
Question: I would like to plant native Michigan shrubs. Where can I find information regarding them?
by Virginia Chatfield