Wild Ideas:  Newsletter for the Flint Chapter of Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, Limited.

Winter 2001


Looking back over this past year, I have been thinking about our activities and accomplishments. Remember our Winter Lecture Series? Sharon Johnson helped us with plants that attract butterflies. Bill Schneider of Wildtype Native Plant Nursery informed us about invasive plants. Jay Blair from our USDA Conservation District office told us about sources of state funding for native plantings, and David Mindell fielded the question, "Why Plant Native Plants?" We initiated some new activities: our first plant-rescue operation and our first native-plant sale. We also created a fantastic-looking Wild Ones display to promote our chapter and our goals.

This year we can build on those experiences and activities. Our next three meetings, which comprise our current Winter Lecture Series, feature a geologist, a native-plant seed producer, and a "backyard wildlife specialist." These evening lectures present great opportunities to learn more about our favorite topics and meet some interesting people.

We can use our new Wild Ones display at the upcoming Pontiac Silverdome Home and Garden Show, Earth Day at Mott Community College, Urban Gardening Expo, and the "Flower Day" spring plant sale at the Flint Farmer's Market. These activities are great fun. They also give us a chance to meet other like-minded people, find out what else is going on in the community, connect with other environmental groups, and do our part to educate and inform people about the beauty and importance of native Michigan plants—part of the Wild Ones mission. If you know of any other events to which we might take our display, and/or if you would like to be a part of this effort, please contact one of the officers.

This year an excellent video on wildflowers and a web-interactive CD will be new and exciting additions to our display. These items are sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and are very well done. (Be sure to read the review of the video.) Sales of the video and CD should help fund some of our upcoming projects!

After our previous success, we would like to do more plant rescues this year. We are looking for the right person to take charge of this mission and seek out those poor plants that need us! The site we were at last summer may be available to us again. And in a meeting of the Flint Watershed Coalition, I was asked if our group would be available to do plant rescues along the Flint River if needed! We urgently need someone to spearhead this exciting activity.

We have some great field trips planned for this year as well, so please check out the calendar. What could be more fun than prowling around the woods and meadows of Michigan learning more about our natural environment?

One last thing—there are some ideas in the works for our group to undertake a major project. We are looking for a highly visible place where many people would have the opportunity to get a real feel for a natural landscape. If you have any ideas you'd like to toss at us please feel free... All in all, it looks like it'll be an exciting year for Wild Ones.

Naturally yours,

Virginia Chatfield, President


By Pat Lewis

With the fields and gardens covered with snow, winter might appear to be a boring time for native plant gardeners. However, a survey of wild gardeners shows that winter is a valued part of the gardener's year.

When someone suggested that she move to a warmer climate where she could garden year around, Janet Macunovich, professional gardener and author of Caring for Perennials, said "No, thank you. Winter is such a blessing after a busy season."

Flint chapter member Ginny Knag said that what she does in the winter is "read up." When I asked her what she "read up" on, she said "gardening and life." In addition to books of a philosophical nature, she reads and re-reads Wild Ones publications, since, she says, she now has time to digest the information. Currently she is also reading Noah's Garden (by Sara Stein).

Vicki Gagne, another Flint chapter member, says that she daydreams in the winter. Although she has done a considerable amount of work on her 14 acres, there is so much more she would like to do that she spends a lot of time going over the endless possibilities in her mind.

Virginia Chatfield, our president and a landscape designer, draws landscape designs.

As for myself, I am taking a course in Perennial Garden Design, taught by members Ginny Knag and Debbie Miller. Since I want to design a native perennial garden, I am currently combing 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants (by Lorraine Johnson) for the ones I want to use in my new garden this year.

Jewel Richardson, one of our members and the owner of Wetlands Nursery, says winter is the only time she has to decorate and organize her house.

So, when the ground is frozen and your wild garden covered with snow, relax, read up, catch up, and dream of all the wild possibilities for the coming year.


by Pat Lewis

Question: How do you start native plant seeds indoors? I've heard words like stratification and scarification. What do they mean?


by Cynthia Stilley

Wild About Wildflowers!—How to Choose, Plant, Grow, and Enjoy Native American Wildflowers and Grasses in Your Own Yard is a video written and produced by Tom Huggler and sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Want a cure for the winter blahs? Well, here it is! A 50-minute video that is filled with excellent information about how to plant a wildflower garden or how to restore your lawn to the prairie that it once was or might well have been—especially if you live in Michigan, which once held 2,000,000 acres of prairie before it was turned into farms. This video, which was shot in Michigan, showcases the beautiful wildflowers that we often find naturally in our fields, gulleys, forests, and wetlands. Opening with beautiful shots of native columbine, butterfly weed, and the marsh marigold, the narrator goes on to tell how the modern gardener can use the native plants that flourished naturally at the time Michigan settlers came to this land.

Tom Huggler, teacher, conservationist, award-winning writer and videotape producer, outlines the steps we need to take to successfully introduce native wildflowers into our gardens:

All this practical advice is illustrated with close-up plant and flower photos that are identified with captions. A viewer new to native plants will find this video full of practical can-do advice, along with a palette of flower suggestions for the garden.

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.—Andrew Wyeth


by Virginia Chatfield


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