2013 Landscape Challenge update

By Jeanne Cablish

The 2014 Landscape Challenge planting is this coming weekend. I thought some pictures from our creation last year would be an inspiration for this Saturday. Dawn and Peter have done a great job maintaining the plantings. Below are some pictures from this summer.

Join us on Saturday for this year’s Landscape Challenge planting. It’s fun, a great learning opportunity, and you’ll be helping to create another link in what Doug Tallamy calls Networks for Life (video).

Big city habitat

Kids looking at pond water with microscopes and magnifying glassesBy Betty Struckhoff

Watching kids find little critters in pond water, some of them using a microscope, all under the helpful eyes of a docent made me think I could have been at Shaw Nature Reserve. But I was in the middle of London, one of the biggest, most densely populated cities on the planet, at the Wildlife Garden of the Natural History Museum. What a surprise to find acres of native English plants representing eight different habitats in the British Isles.

Map of Wildlife Garden London Museum of Natural History

Map of the Wildlife Garden

The Wildlife Garden opened in 1995 and represents the museum’s first living exhibit. Over 2,300 species of plants and animals have been identified there.

Wildlife Garden at Longon Museum of Natural History

Wildlife Garden at the London Museum of Natural History

Maybe the next time I go to London, I’ll visit the River of Flowers. It is under development and will include 10 locations along the Thames River planted in wildflowers.

What fun to know that other parts of the world are also learning to appreciate the beauty and diversity of native plants!

St. Louis Audubon fall stewardship projects

By Mitch Leachman

Work crew at an Audubon Society work dayWe had another fantastic year made possible by thousands of hours of service given by hundreds of volunteers just like you! Specifically, nearly 600 folks came out for 14 stewardship projects including the installation of over 1,600 native plants and the clearing or maintenance of bush honeysuckle on 16 acres of natural areas! Many thanks to all who helped out! We’re better off because of your service, and we hope you can come back this fall for one of our projects!

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Prairie Day – Sept. 20

By Marilyn Chryst

Vendors dressed in Pioneer-era clothes at a booth on Prairie Day“Follow the Herd to Prairie Day” is a great motto. Every other year, Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR) and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) jointly sponsor Prairie Day. This year it’s Saturday, Sept 20th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SNR.

It’s a really fun day, especially for kids, although adults will have a great experience too. There will be activities about birds, weaving, atlatl throwing, and many others, all relating to the time of the settlers on the prairie. At the MDC areas, kids can earn wooden nickels for learning something, then spend them at the trading post for small toys, etc. I personally will be at the tepee talking about Indian life.

If you know SNR, the Prairie Day activities will be laid out between the Trail House and the Prairie. When you get near the Reserve there will be signs leading you down Robertsville Road to a large parking area, and walking directions from there. So, “Follow the Herd” and come on out to SNR that Saturday (Google map).

Southwest Illinois chapter meetings

The Southwest Illinois chapter of Wild Ones is up and running, with two meetings scheduled this fall.

Heartland Prairie sign at Gordon Moore Park in AltonSept. 17 (Wed.) at Gordon Moore Heartland Prairie Restoration in Alton
Bring a lawn chair, water and comfortable walking shoes.
5:30 pm: Board meeting
6:00 pm: We will walk and learn about the Heartland Prairie. Sunset is at 7:05 pm; we are looking forward to a beautiful evening walk.
Map with link for directions

Oct. 15 (Wed.) at Naturescapes Nursery
Board meeting at 5:30 pm.  Meeting at 6:00 pm
Bring a lawn chair, comfy walking shoes, and water.  Tour will be quick as sunset is 6:21 pm.
Map with link for directions

For now, there are no meetings scheduled for November and December.

Tropical milkweed for Monarch butterflies – the Asclepias curassavica controversy

By James C. Trager, Ph.D. / Restoration Biologist / Shaw Nature Reserve

Tropical milkweed houseplant blooming with snow outside

Tropical milkweed houseplant blooming with snow outside

An article from the Wild Ones Journal – lays out the issues regarding planting tropical milkweed for monarch butterflies, and suggests a solution to the possible issue of causing increase protozoan parasite infection, namely, mowing patches of this plant down a couple of times a season, so they are not a constant attracting feature in a butterfly garden. I will note that monarch caterpillars often completely defoliate patches of Asclepias curassavica here in the St. Louis area, thereby rendering them unattractive to breeding females, as I have observed year after year in my garden, so this practice may not even be necessary around here.

Based on my knowledge of insects’ ecological/physiological triggers to reproduction and migration, and the fact that the butterflies naturally encounter this plant as a common garden and roadside plant on their way (passing through Texas and all of Mexico) to the overwintering grounds, I lean with Dr. Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch in not having much concern on this one. The plant itself is winter-hardy through lower Zone 7, and like many subtropical plants and insects, is slowly spreading north as people plant them out and our winters get shorter (now by about three weeks compared to when weather records were first being kept). But overall, habitat loss is more important.

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August meeting minutes

PROGRAM

Wild ones view the landscaping near Chesterfield City Hall at the August 2014 meeting

Wild ones view the landscaping near Chesterfield City Hall. Photo by Leslie Penning.

A spectacular wind and rain storm coincided with the start time of our meeting. Therefore, the tour of the native gardens around Chesterfield City Hall was postponed until after the indoor presentation. The weather event resulted in our lowest meeting attendance in years: twelve members and four guests.

Melinda (Mindy) Mohrman, Chesterfield’s City Arborist, gave a program on the many efforts in Chesterfield that promote sound landscaping practices:

  • The city makes an effort to showcase native habitat in their parks
  • Chesterfield’s Central Park Amphitheater has new, mostly native, landscaping
  • The Audubon Society and the city sponsor bird walks
  • Officials are working toward Monarch Waystation certification from MonarchWatch
  • Planning has begun on an amphibian project

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Another chance to see the Leahys’ yard

May 2014 meeting

Wild Ones meeting at the Leahys’ – photo by Dave Tylka

By Sue Leahy

When invitations came my way toward the end of last year to host a Wild Ones meeting and be on the Master Gardener tour, I decided that since we were going to “spruce up” the gardens for these tours that I would host an open house for the public as well. This would give me a chance to help educate about and promote the use of natives in landscaping and providing habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

Thus, there will be a public open house at my place on Sunday afternoon, September 14. There will be some habitat advisors from the St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home program available to help educate. Wild Ones members are more than welcome and feel free to bring a friend or spread the word. The more the merrier!

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