Native Plant School newsletter – March, 2013

Native Plant School logoIn addition to providing a great ongoing series of classes, the Native Plant School (co-sponsored by St. Louis Wild Ones) at Shaw Nature Reserve also has an e-mail newsletter with helpful gardening tips, informative articles, and more.  Read the March edition.

To sign up for the newsletter, e-mail Besa Schweitzer ( with “NPS subscribe” in the subject line.

Big plastic pot…

chickadee in bird bubbler

Chickadee in bird bubbler
(click image for a larger version)

by Betty Struckhoff

  • Big plastic pot —                        $25
  • 50′ Outdoor electrical cord —     $34
  • Pump —                                      $19
  • Watching birds at my bubbler —  Priceless!

Friends know I’m a lazy gardener.  So I dragged my feet on creating a bird bubbler for my yard.  But last year I finally gave in.  I kept it as simple as I could by using a big plastic pot from Walmart and running an extension cord, hidden under mulch, to an outdoor outlet.  Yes there is also a big rock but that cost about a buck and Scott at Shaw Nature Reserve drilled a hole for free after I took the bubbler class there.  I propped it up with some old paving stones that were lying around.

bird at bubbler

Who can tell me the name of this bird?

My visions of enjoying the birds from our front window were not to be.  Since we usually kept the blind shut, opening it up made for an unfamiliar situation and the birds didn’t hang around.  This year the bubbler is moving to the back yard where we’ll check out the view from our second story deck.

If you want to know more, just corner me at a meeting or give me a call.

2013 Kirkwood nature hikes

City of Kirkwood logoFrom Alan Hopefl, President of the Kirkwood Park Board

The Kirkwood Parks & Recreation Department is sponsoring several nature hikes this spring.

Saturday March 30th, 10:00 AM, GEOLOGY HIKE

People on a geology hike sponsored by the Kirkwood Parks DepartmentSpend an hour or more learning about the local geology of Missouri at Meramec Highlands Quarry at Dee Koestering Park (1703 Marshall Rd.). The site is the historic Meramec Highland Quarry which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its geological discoveries. Many of the large quarry stones and spoils are still on site which provide a view of the unique geology and fossils of the area.  An experienced geologist will guide us. Bring weather appropriate gear, magnifying glass, and notebook, if desired.
Meet in the Parking Lot.  Held rain or shine. All ages welcome. No charge.


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State nursery open house – April 6

Workers at the George White state nurseryThe George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking, Missouri is having an open house on April 6. The nursery is a great source of inexpensive tree and shrub seedlings.  Wild Ones gives away their seedlings for Earth Day each year.

The open house is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take a tour of the 100-acre nursery operation, where everything from pecans to pawpaws and witch hazel to walnuts are grown. See the lifting equipment used to harvest seedlings, and check out the grading and shipping rooms where orders are filled. Top off your tour with a complimentary lunch as guests of the nursery staff.“

Lots of people have bought seedlings from us for decades without ever knowing where their trees and shrubs come from,” says Nursery Supervisor George Clark. “We think it would be nice if folks could put a place and faces with the name.”

The nursery is located 3 miles north of Licking, at 14027 Shafer Road, on the west side of Highway 63. Call 573-674-3229 for more information.

Is Spring a Little Late this Year?

By Betty Struckhoff

If spring is a little late, I’m not complaining. I’m hoping against hope that it means we’ll be spared some of the wrath of a St. Louis summer. Last Saturday was a perfect day for a walk in the woods to check out what was happening. Here are some photos of shrubs and a small tree showing their spring buds. Pictures were taken in Des Peres, MO. Continue reading

Seedling survival

by Larry Hummel

Over the years Joan and I have purchased a number of seedling (whips) packages from the Missouri Department of Conservation nursery.  Our property is large enough that spring planting involved way too much work in order to provide water to the plants during the summer when both roots and leaves were competing for moisture and nutrients.

The survival rate for whips that are planted in the spring and not watered is reported to be in the 15% range.  If you have a small lot and can consistently water the whips during the summer the method I use will be more work than you may need to do.  If you do plant the whips in the spring do add some root stimulator, not fertilizer, to the planting.

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2013 Sustainable Backyard Tour – host registration

Sustainable Backyard Tour logoNow in its 3rd year, the Sustainable Backyard Tour is a free, self-guided, open-house-style tour of sustainable outdoor residential spaces around St. Louis. It is a unique opportunity to see first hand how others have integrated sustainable living practices into their little piece of Earth.

This year’s tour will be Sunday, June 23. If you or someone you know has a great example of outdoor sustainable living—from organic gardening to rain gardens and mud ovens—consider being a stop on this year’s Tour. Register online.

To volunteer for the tour, either as a docent or an apprentice, or to sponsor, send an email to

Native Landscaping workshop hand-outs

The 2nd annual Partners for Native Landscaping workshop was great!  More than 250 people attended, many of them new to landscaping with native plants.  There were great ideas for people just getting started, and for long-time native gardeners.

Whether you attended the workshop or not, you can view many of the presentations and get a list of helpful resources on the Shaw Nature Reserve website.