What’s blooming in my yard? Bluebells

Blog and Photos By Kathy Bildner
Member, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

Close-up of blue bell-shaped flower

The distinctive shape of bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Plant Name: Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Description: The flowers are pale blue, one-inch long, bell or trumpet shaped. They hang down in loose clusters from the top of the plant. There are more leaves than flowers with leaves being a beautiful smooth gray-green color, oval shaped with rounded tips. The plant can grow up to two-feet tall.

The seeds form in the flower as four nut-lets. The blue flower petals will drop off to reveal the seeds, which will then turn tan or yellow when they are ready to harvest. Plants grow from seed easily. Let them fall where they are or collect them and throw them in other flower beds in your yard.

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Free entertainment Sunday, March 26: Invasive Species Follies

Join KDHX for a live recording of Earthworms with Jean Ponzi and free entertainment.

Event: Invasive Species Follies
Bush Honeysuckle, Mosquitoes and Us!
Where: The Stage at KDHX
3524 Washington Avenue, mid-town St. Louis
When: Sunday, March 26, 2017
-Family Matinee 1:00 p.m.
-Adult Show 7:00 p.m.
Food: Magnolia Café will be open for pre-show lunch/dinner/treats
Hosted by: Jean Ponzi of KDHX Earthworms
Cost is free. To reserve tickets:

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2017 March monthly gathering highlights

Betty Struckhoff sharing so many ways to add native plants to our gardens
Photo by Dawn Weber

March 1, 2017
Marsha Gebhardt welcomed all 47 members and 19 guests to our March gathering at The Heights community center of Richmond Heights. Our speaker was Betty Struckhoff with a program titled Landscaping with Native Trees and Shrubs.

Betty Struckhoff is a long-time active member of Wild Ones, serving on our Chapter Board of Directors for many years. She has helped create native landscapes in local parks and other public and private gardens. Also, Betty is a habitat advisor for St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home program, and a horticulture volunteer with St. Louis County Parks. A Master Gardener since 1999, she is the winner of the St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Native Garden contest.

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Scientist requesting your help with elderberry study

By Joshua Neely

purple fruit on a plant

Elder fruit

I hope that you may be able to help me. I am seeking one or more populations of elder (Sambucus nigra or Sambucus canadensis) in the St. Louis/St. Charles area for an unfunded genetic study.

I welcome populations that are either cultivated or wild.

I have included pictures of elders (sometimes called elderberries) with fruit as well as the overall plant.

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Bring Conservation Home program seeking Habitat Advisors

Bring Conservation Home logo[Editor’s Note: In addition to being a Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter Member-at-Large and Technology Communications Committee Chairperson, Dawn Weber is a Habitat Advisor for Bring Conservation Home (BCH). She is sharing this post from the BCH blog. Dawn said, “Volunteering with the BCH program is an opportunity for Wild Ones members to give back to the community using our native plant knowledge.”]

The 2017 Bring Conservation Home Habitat Advisor Training Workshop is scheduled for Saturday March 25 at Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood. 

The BCH program uses volunteer Habitat Advisors to provide consultations to urban landowners in the greater St. Louis area for the restoration of native plant and animal habitat on their grounds.

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2017 February monthly gathering highlights

man talking in front of presentation screen to group of seated people

Scott Woodbury, Curator of the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve, gave an informative talk to a record crowd of 104.
Photo by Dawn Weber

February 1, 2017
Our February gathering, the first of 2017, attracted a record attendance of 104. Fifty-five members and 49 guests came to hear a presentation of current interest at The Heights community center of Richmond Heights. Marsha Gebhardt welcomed new visitors, guest Richmond Heights Garden Club members, and guest Master Gardeners.

Scott Woodbury, Curator of the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve, and 1998 founder of our St. Louis Chapter Wild Ones, gave a presentation titled: Native Landscaping: Front Yard Formal.

“Front yard formal” can mean getting along in the neighborhood by planning and maintaining a well-behaved landscape, being neighborly, and using good gardening practices.

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What’s blooming in my yard? Golden currant

By Dawn Weber
Board Member-at-Large, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

Plant name: Golden currant (Ribes odoratum, also known as Ribes aureum)

Description: Height: 4-6 ft, width: 6-10 ft
This plant is an open shrub with small, beautiful yellow trumpet-shaped blooms in spring. It smells like cloves when blooming, giving it an alternate common name of Clove currant. Fall foliage is a beautiful dark red. Can produce suckers.

Why I chose this plant: I love yellow, it is the host for at least 92 species of lepidoptra (butterflies and moths), and is a Missouri Botanical Garden (MoBot) Plant of Merit.

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Wild Ones sponsors Project Pollinator – plus celebration event on March 15

By Sue Leahy
Board Member-at-Large, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

Project Pollinator is a cooperative effort of St. Louis County Parks, St. Louis County Libraries, The Butterfly House, and Greenscape Gardens to protect pollinators and their habitats. Wild Ones-St. Louis Chapter is proud to be a sponsor of this program in 2017.

The mission of Project Pollinator is to promote an appreciation of all pollinators through education and creation of pollinator gardens. The goal is to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and to provide demonstration gardens at county parks, libraries, and other public venues.

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Honeysuckle Sweep Week is here: March 4 – 19, 2017

woman dragging brush

Fran Glass, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter Board Secretary, drags honeysuckle carcasses to the wood chipper.

Invasive bush honeysuckle chokes out native species including trees, shrubs, and ground-layer plants because of multiple factors including its rapid spread, density, early shading, depletion of the soil, and suspected toxins (1). Not only that but it is difficult to remove because of its thick and gnarly wood, which creates that massive density.

Area conservation organizations join together this week to remove as much invasive bush honeysuckle as possible and to bring community awareness to the detrimental effects of these highly invasive plants.

The Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter Board recently approved increasing participation in this event beginning in the fall or next March possibly by providing native plant seedlings, education opportunities, and planting events. Besa Schweitzer, our Webmaster, is on the Honeysuckle Sweep Week planning committee and is our coordinator with that group and the other participating organizations.

Note: Registration is required for each event listed below. To register and for more information, visit Missouri Botanical Garden’s BiodiverseCity St. Louis, which hosts the webpage for these activities.

The main event:
March 6 – 10 from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
(two- and three-hour shifts available)
Free Kirkwood Park from Invasive Bush Honeysuckle

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Book reviews of Heather Holm’s work

Heather Holm is one of the keynote speakers at the Partners for Native Landscaping workshop this coming Friday and Saturday. Her books will be available for sale at the workshop, and she will be available for signing during the Friday social hour as well as during lunch on Saturday.

Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants
By Heather N. Holm
Pollination Press LLC: Minnetonka, MN, 2014
320 pages

Book reviewed by Mary Ann Fink, Curator of the Museum of Transportation’s Pollinator Junction

Pollinators of Native Plants, by Heather Holm, is a comprehensive book that profiles 67 native plants and their visitors who seek pollen, nectar, an insect meal, or a host plant. The “pollinators” category includes bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies, moths, and flies.

Holm had me on page vii when she included an excerpt of Neltje Blachan’s Nature’s Garden: An Aid to Knowledge of Our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors, published in 1900. She coaxed me into a trance with a magical visual sequence of close-up photography that masterfully followed Blachan’s poetic description of a bumblebee’s challenge to gain entrance to a sunlit white turtlehead (Chelone glabra) blossom.

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