Photos from the June meeting

Our June meeting was at the home of author and college professor, Dave Tylka and his wife, Karen. Their yard includes shade and prairie gardens, glade habitat, a rain garden, and a water feature. Dave’s book, Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People, is a “must read” for native gardeners in the Midwest.

If you have additional photos, please send them to Brian Hall. What did you like best about the Tylkas’ yard (leave a comment)?

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Fran Glass’ yard gets Platinum certification from STL Audubon

By Mitch Leachman

Fran Glass stands in her yard of native plants with a sign proclaiming her Bring Conservation Home Platinum certification - the highest level.The St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home program was created in 2012. It gives individual landowners in the St. Louis region specific advice on how to create bird- and pollinator-friendly habitat in their own yards. A number of the program’s volunteer Habitat Advisors are Wild Ones members, and the St. Louis Chapter has been a partner organization since the program kickoff.

Bring Conservation Home has been wildly successful, with nearly 350 landscapes surveyed representing over 200 acres of potential new habitat. 80 owners have been recognized for their conservation practices with one of three certification levels. Fran entered an elite group earlier this month by achieving Platinum certification, the highest level. Her company includes Wild Ones’ own Bill Hoss, and native plant enthusiast, author and educator Dave Tylka.

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Squaw weed — friend or foe?

By Ed Schmidt

Squaw weed leaves in June

Squaw weed in June

Squaw weed, also known as round-leaved ragwort, has beautiful yellow flowers in the spring, and the leaves make an attractive ground cover. It thrives in shade, and tolerates fairly dry conditions. On the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plantfinder, it gets 4 stars. Originally designated as Senecio obovatus, the current scientific name is Packera obovata.

At our June meeting, Dave Tylka described how squaw weed was popping up in places where he didn’t want it. He noted that the dandelion-like airborne seeds were the source of the problem, and he recommended not planting it. At least one Wild Ones member was inspired to remove her plants the following day.

Rabbit-nibbled squaw weed

Rabbit-nibbled squaw weed

The squaw weed in my yard is well-behaved, and doesn’t seem to spread by seed. It spreads by stolons (runners), but more slowly than wild ginger. Rabbits seem to like it, and their frequent nibbling keeps it from spreading as fast as I’d like.

To see squaw weed in bloom, see this post by Betty Hall in Kentucky.

Do you have squaw weed in your yard? What is your experience with it?


Editor’s note: See Dave Tylka’s response in the comments below.

Why does my Eastern red-cedar have “Christmas tree ornaments” in the summer?

By Nellie Brown

Bagworms on cedar

Photo from Univ. of KY

It’s not because the tree is in the holiday spirit. The “ornaments” are actually bagworms. The caterpillars eat an extremely wide range of plants (128 species), from arborvitae to maples. They can be devastating on many woody ornamentals, including many plants in your yard.

Newly hatched bagworm feeding on oak leaf surface. Larger larvae will chew holes in the leaves. Photo from Univ. of KY

Newly hatched bagworm feeding on oak leaf surface. Larger larvae will chew holes in the leaves.
Photo from Univ. of KY

The eggs hatch in the spring and the baby caterpillars disperse over the plant where they hatched, as well as spreading out to neighboring trees, shrubs and other plants. Sometimes the newly hatched caterpillars will “balloon” to nearby plants: they will spin a long strand of silk and use that thread to catch the wind and be carried to another plant.

Each caterpillar will quickly make a bag of chewed up leaves and silk, which provides them with camouflage and protection from the elements. The bag is a home for all stages of the insects except the adult males. As the caterpillar grows, it adds to the bag and makes it larger. By June, the bagworms become noticeable to gardeners, who wonder where the “Christmas tree ornaments” came from.

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Friday Greener Gardens series at SNR – a great opportunity

Participants at the April event tour the garden with Scott Woodbury

Participants at the April event tour the garden with Scott Woodbury

By Marsha Gebhardt

I highly recommend attending one or more of the Friday Greener Gardens series at Shaw Nature Reserve. This is a new series for SNR; they call it an “experiment.” I attended the first one on a beautiful April evening. After sharing food and drink and a bit of conversation, Scott Woodbury and two representatives of Missouri Wildflowers Nursery led informational walks through the woodland garden.

The next event in the series is June 27 – For the Birds: why insects matter. “Don’t stomp that caterpillar, celebrate it! Native insects in the garden aren’t a disease; they belong there and provide needed food for nesting birds. Join Shaw Nature Reserve, Missouri Department of Conservation, St. Louis Audubon Society and Wild Ones staff as we discuss the many benefits of native plants and garden insects for bird welfare, and tour the garden in search of creeping, crawling and flying wildlife.”

Two more events will complete the series:

  • September 12 – Seeding a Tallgrass Prairie or Savanna!
  • October 24 – Celebrate Autumn Color!

Each event is from 5:00 to 7:30 PM.  Participants are encouraged to bring food to share. Drinks will be provided.

All of these Friday Greener Gardens events are free, but you must register in advance. Registration is limited to the first 40 people. There is still space available for the Friday, June 27th event. Come join us! You’ll be glad you did.

Watch out for this pest on indigo plants

By Scott Barnes

Mature genista broom moth caterpillar

Mature genista broom moth caterpillar
Photo from Penn State Extension

At the June yard tour, Dave Tylka talked about a caterpillar that ate all the leaves on his Indigo plant last year. I had the same problem, and was surprised to learn I wasn’t alone. The caterpillar belongs to the Broom Moth. I looked them up and learned they can defoliate an indigo in just days.

I took the route of removing the caterpillars and cutting down the Indigo they had chosen as a food source. My decision was based on the fact that I have a number of different Indigos, and did not want them all defoliated. This year the Indigo I cut down came back with no ill effects. I will keep a look out and update this blog if I get a repeat experience this year.

Read more about these pests and different control measures on the Penn State Extension website.

Restoration field day – Matson Hill Park

By Kathryn Jepsen

Beautiful green mayapples under a canopy of tall, slender trees

A free, informative field day for land managers, land owners and other resource professionals interested in woodland restoration.

See first-hand what Missouri Master Naturalists, St. Charles County Parks and Recreation, and their partners are doing to restore the county’s woodland and prairie communities. Learn about the resources available to bring similar projects to your own region, including those from project partner Missouri Department of Conservation.

In this free field day, you’ll see the results of an earlier project on once-degraded woodlands. And you’ll witness the ongoing work that’s taking place to restore 62 acres of woodland and 11 acres of prairie by Missouri Master Naturalist volunteers and the staff of St. Charles County Parks and Recreation, along with partner organizations University Extension Education Foundation, Forest and Woodland Association of Missouri, and Missouri Department of Conservation.

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Sustainable Back Yard Tour 2014

By Susan Lanigan

wildflowers and backyard gardenSee first-hand how other St. Louisans have integrated sustainable practices and beauty into their little piece of Earth.

The 2014 Sustainable Backyard Tour is a self-guided, open-house-style tour of over 40 yards. This is a great opportunity to see examples of outdoor sustainable living—from organic gardening to rain gardens and mud ovens. Read descriptions of some of the yards.

When: Sunday, June 22, 11 am – 4 pm.
Cost: Free, but you’re asked to register.
Where: Pick up a tour booklet with addresses and maps from sponsors, or download the information from the SBYT website closer to the tour date.

To volunteer for the tour, either as a docent or an apprentice, or to sponsor, complete the volunteer sign up  form.

Update on Dogtown planter project

Dogtown planter 1 June

Dogtown planter – this end is doing well
(click for a larger image)

By Kate Lovelady

Earlier this year, St. Louis Wild Ones gave the Dogtown Eco-Village group a grant for a landscape design for the well-traveled intersection of Clayton and Tamm Avenues. There are several popular restaurants and bars nearby.

Jeanne Cablish designed an all-native garden for the area, which is dry and sunny. The Richmond Heights Garden Club generously provided a grant for most of the plants, and several Wild Ones members donated plants as well.

The first part of the garden, in an 80-foot-long median planter, was completed in May 2014 and it’s looking great! Besides the coneflowers and wild quinine that you can see blooming here, the Missouri primrose and phlox have already bloomed.

Dogtown planter - sad end

This end of the planter is struggling

Oddly, although most of the planter is flourishing, one end is really struggling. We assume the dirt in that end is poorer, but we don’t really know the problem.

Overall, the garden is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood that will only get better each year. And the Dogtown Eco-Village is working on adding signage to educate folks about native plants.

The next time you’re in the area, stop by and see it yourself.