March 2016 monthly gathering highlights

Chris Kirmaier, Ph.D.

Chris Kirmaier, Ph.D.

March 2, 2016
Thirty-four members and six guests attended our March gathering at The Heights community center of Richmond Heights. President Marsha Gebhardt welcomed all.

“Earth’s Solar Energy Engine” was presented by Chris Kirmaier, Ph.D., a Research Professor of Chemistry at Washington University. The program is a photographic journey of photosynthesis which has been Chris’ major research focus for the last thirty-five years.

Photosynthesis is not just about plants. Almost all living things on earth ultimately depend on photosynthesis for their food and energy resources. Chris said, “Sunlight is captured and stored and used to run the world.” The presentation is an in-depth look at light harvesting in photosynthetic organisms, the primary reactions of photosynthesis, and the electronic structure and photophysical properties of chlorophylls.

Chris has been a gardener her whole life. She is a Master Gardener and a habitat advisor for St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home program. She encourages and guides neighbors to landscape with native plants and spearheads an invasive, bush-honeysuckle removal team.

Susan Orr and Peggy Whetzel giving spring planting tips

Susan Orr (far right) and Peggy Whetzel (in back) giving spring tasks and tips

Spring native garden tasks and tips
Marsha asked experienced, native-plant gardener members to offer tips for spring and answer members’ questions. Tips were offered by Prem Barton, Susan Orr, Anne Rankin Horton, Kathy Bildner, Betty Struckhoff, Peggy Whetzel, Linda Tatum, and Margy Terpstra. Here is a sampling of the suggestions they offered.

  • Prune trees and shrubs while they are still dormant.
  • Plant trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and grasses through May.
  • Divide and move perennials and grasses March through May.
  • Divide ferns while fronds are less than three inches to minimize damage.
  • Watch for chrysalises.
  • Cut down and remove dead leaves, stems, and seed heads from perennials and grasses.
  • After cutting dead stems, Doug Tallamy suggests bundling and leaning them upright until insects emerge from them.
  • Uncover seedlings so they are not smothered.
  • Bring stratified seeds outside.
  • Use branches downed by storms to make brush piles.
  • Use wood chips for paths. However, fresh wood chips take nitrogen out of soil so don’t use those in planting beds.
  • Hang bird houses.
  • Taper off feeding birds by the end of March.
  • Bring indoors cuttings of spring blooming shrubs or trees to enjoy.
Gathering attendees

Gathering attendees

Volunteer Opportunity: St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour – June 18
Again, we are partnering with St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home to present the second annual St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour on Saturday, June 18, 2016.

Dawn Weber announced this volunteer opportunity. At each home, there will be two volunteers in the morning and two in the afternoon. Forty volunteers are needed. Read Dawn’s blog for more information and to sign up.

Volunteer Opportunity: Rack Cards Stockers
Four local nurseries will be points of purchase for tickets to the June 18 St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour. The nurseries are:

Marsha asked for volunteers to stock and monitor our chapter rack cards at one of these four nurseries. Penny Holtzmann is coordinating this volunteer project.

Business Cards
Members were invited to take a few of our chapter business cards to share with interested persons.


Logo courtesy of Greenscape Gardens

Greenscape Gardens Pollinator Palette Program
Dawn Weber announced this new promotion at Greenscape Gardens. In order to increase awareness of pollinator issues and the value of native plants, each month a different native plant that serves as a nectar source or host plant will be featured as a gift with purchase.

Through the month of March, St. Louis Wild Ones is the featured Pollinator Palette Partner. We will have volunteers at the nursery on Saturdays, March 19 and March 26 to hand out information about pollinators and promote our organization. Read Dawn’s blog post.

Sugar Creek Gardens upcoming events
Sugar Creek Gardens is a business partner of our chapter. They are promoting native plants at their business and offering native-plant events in April.

  • Tuesday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. – Betty Struckhoff will give a presentation, “Landscaping with Missouri Native Plants.”
  • Saturday, April 16 from 9:00 a.m. – noon – Discount to Wild Ones members. Members of Wild Ones will be on hand to share their knowledge of Missouri native plants, answer questions, and offer advice on landscaping with native-plant species.

St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park – April 24
Seedling wrapping – April 23
Fran Glass circulated volunteer sign-up sheets to staff our educational booth at the Festival and for wrapping Missouri Department of Conservation seedlings to give away.

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) giveaway

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) giveaway

Spring Wildflower Market at Shaw Nature Reserve – May 6 and 7
Marilyn Chryst, Plant Sale Coordinator, circulated a sign-up sheet for volunteers to help set-up, staff, and take down our native-plant sale booth at the Shaw Nature Reserve’s Spring Wildflower Market.

Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitats Week – March 5-13
Besa Schweitzer reminded us of this event that is sponsored by BiodiverseCity St. Louis, a community initiative of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Conservation organizations in our region are hosting honeysuckle removal days. Wild Ones members are encouraged to join in the effort to improve habitat for our native plants and animals. A list of events

The Missouri Botanical Garden has a new tri-fold brochure about eradicating invasive bush honeysuckle. Besa offered copies of these at our gathering. Download the brochure.

Southwest Illinois Chapter Wild Ones
Our sister chapter across the river meets on the third Wednesday of the month. The March 16 speaker will be Mitch Leachman presenting the St. Louis Audubon’s Bring Conservation Home program at Naturescapes Nursery in Collinsville, IL.

Missouri Department of Conservation Seedling Order
This is a members-only benefit. In November we placed a group order for seedlings from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Ana Grace Schactmann will host a seedling wrapping event on April 2. Members who placed orders will be able to pick them up after our April 6, 2016 gathering. Any extras will be available for purchase.

Judy Speck and the giveaway

Judy Speck and the freebie

Surprise Giveaways
Tyvek sleeves were given away to protect arms or legs when working with prickly species or poison ivy. More will be available at our April meeting.

Susan Burk brought a flat of coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) to share, and they were eagerly snapped up.

Upcoming Gatherings
Our May through September, 2016 gatherings will be offered twice each, on a Wednesday evening and a Saturday morning so that more members and guests may attend.

Next Gathering
April 6, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. in Forest Park. Meet on the patio behind the Visitor Center. Joshua Wibbenmeyer, Nature Reserve Steward for Forest Park Forever, will lead a tour of Deer Lake Savanna. It is about a ¼-mile walk to the Savanna. Afterward, those who ordered seedlings will be able to pick them up at the Visitor Center. Any extras will be available for purchase at that time. For directions 

Recorded by: Fran Glass, Secretary


3 thoughts on “March 2016 monthly gathering highlights

  1. Thanks Fran, you got in everything, it was a meeting full of new information.

  2. This entire gathering was great. Dr. Kirmaier’s talk not only simplified photosynthesis, but showed how fascinating it really is. Thank you Marsha for inviting native-plant gardeners to share their tasks and tips. Also, thank you to Fran who did a wonderful job on these highlights.

  3. Fran, this is an outstanding report! Thank you for these detailed minutes and for listing so many opportunities for getting involved.
    I’m also grateful to the board for hosting researcher Chris Kirmaier, and to Dr. Kirmaier for her illustrated presentation which took us to another level in understanding and appreciating plants. We all took note when she explained that genetically-engineered herbicide-resistant plants store the herbicide in their vacuole.

Comments are closed.