Native Plant School newsletter – December 2015

Native Plant School logoThe December edition of the Native Plant School newsletter contains topics on:

  • Burning Bush Invasion
  • Gardening Tips
  • De-icing Can Harm Plants
  • Weevils Love Wild Indigo Seeds
  • Where Do Butterflies Spend the Winter?
  • Guess The Plant
  • Come for a Visit this Month
  • How to Provide Water for Birds When the Birdbath Freezes
  • Classes
    • Woodland Restoration for Larger Landowners
    • Converting Lawn to Seeded Prairie or Savanna
  • BeeSpotter
  • Bumble Bee Watch
  • Deer Resistant Landscaping with Native Plants, Oh Dear!

Download the PDF.

To sign up for the newsletter, e-mail Besa Schweitzer (

Four reasons to try maple sugaring

By Sarah Pitzer, naturalist
Missouri Department of Conservation

Maple sugaring - photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Maple sugaring – photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Here are four reasons to try maple sugaring:

  1. Maple syrup – Need I say more? Once you try real maple syrup, you may never go back to store-bought corn syrup again!  Besides syrup, the sap can also be used to make sugar, taffy, butter, hard candy, and more. It takes some work, but the reward is so sweet.
  2. Get outside – Winter is a season where it’s easy to stay in, but being cooped up inside is no fun. Sap flows when the temperatures dip below freezing at night and rise above freezing during the day. Collecting and cooking sap is a perfect reason to be outside on sunny, warm winter days. While you’re out, look for animal tracks in fresh snow, or listen for the high-pitched honking of snow geese as they migrate north.
  3. Have fun with your family and friends – Since Native Americans first learned to make sugar from sap, maple sugaring has been a community activity involving all ages. Kids can help collect the sap, older adults can enjoy socializing around the outdoor stove as they boil the sap down, and everyone gets to enjoy the finished product. Maple sugaring can be your new tradition!
  4. It’s good for you – It’s not just the exercise you get from hauling sap around or the physical and mental benefits of being in nature. Maple syrup contains nutrients important for our bodies, including manganese, vitamin B2, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Pure maple syrup is 100% natural, contains no coloring or additives, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly where it came from. If you’re interested in learning more, come to one of the maple sugaring programs at Rockwoods Reservation in January, or the Maple Sugar Festival on February 6. Also, you can check out the Backyard Guide to Maple Sugaring on MDC’s website. We hope you’ll discover the rewards of maple sugaring for yourself!

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Photography tip #1 – Sometimes close is too close

By Dawn Weber


Wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

Today’s tip is for smartphone users:
Sometimes close is too close
I’ve had occasions where I wanted to get a quick photo of a small flower or an insect and the results are blurry because the camera won’t focus on the intended subject.

That undesirable result could be for many reasons, but a primary one is that I was too close to the subject of the photo. Camera lenses have a minimum focus distance, the distance between the lens and the subject. For my iPhone 6s, as an example, it is 3.5 inches. If I’m closer than that, the camera is unable to focus, and my photo won’t turn out as I would like.

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Native Plant School – Jan to July 2016

The Native Plant School, co-sponsored by St. Louis Wild Ones, is a year-round series of mostly outdoor learning sessions in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve. They will cover various aspects of native home landscaping, flower arranging, and woodland/prairie/savanna/ re-establishment. Please bring your questions, comments, photos, drawings, plant specimens, etc. for these three-hour discussion sessions. Scott Woodbury and guest experts will lead the discussions, hands-on tours and demonstrations. Participation from the audience is encouraged.

Thursday, January 14, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Woodland Restoration for Larger Landowners

Thursday, February 11, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Converting Lawn to Seeded Prairie or Savanna

Thursday, March 10, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Scott Woodbury)
Pruning Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Thursday, April 14, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Woodbury)
Gardening with Native Groundcovers

Friday, May 6, 4:00 – 7:30 p.m. (Pre-sale, garden members only)
Saturday, May 7, 9:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Shaw Wildflower Market

Thursday, May 12, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Woodbury)
Spring Flowering Perennials and Grasses

Thursday, June 9, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Terri Brandt)
Flower Arranging with Native Plants

Thursday, July 14, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Susie Van de Riet)
Monarch Gardening

Please register and pay online.

Illinois Audubon requests landscaping tips

IAS idea example

IAS idea example

From Kathy Wright

The quarterly Illinois Audubon Society (IAS) magazine is adding a new feature and is looking for volunteers to write 25-word, seasonally-appropriate landscaping tips.

The magazine editor, Kathy Wright, provided these basic guidelines:

  • Submit approximately 25 words/tip.
  • Tips may be edited by technical experts and the IAS editor.
  • Consider seasonality, as magazine is quarterly – spring, summer, fall, winter – and we would like the tip to tie to the season of publication.
  • Authors need to provide a high-quality image or ask that we find a source.
  • Include name and affiliation with submission.
  • If author is not an IAS member, include mailing address and we will send a copy of the publication when tip is printed.
  • Understand that tips may appear on the IAS website to further enhance the concept of using native plants in landscaping and benefits to Illinois wildlife.

Submit entries to

IAS example – click on image for larger version

November meeting minutes

November 4, 2015

Attendees queueing for food sampling at the annual potluck and seed exchange

Attendees queuing for food sampling at the annual potluck and seed exchange

Thirty-two members and six guests attended our annual potluck dinner and seed exchange, held at The Heights community center of Richmond Heights.

Copies of our chapter membership list were distributed.

President Ed Schmidt invited us to join in the discussion of what to do in your yard at this time of year.

Seed Propagation
Kathy Bildner and Penny Holtzmann each described their methods of native seed propagation.

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