2017 June monthly gathering highlights

Man standing in front of a group of people

James Faupel leading the Wednesday night gathering

June 7 and 10, 2017
Besa Schweitzer and Chris Weiss hosted two June yard-tour gatherings. They welcomed 43 members and four guests on Wednesday evening June 7, and 14 members and two guests on Saturday June 10. Chapter announcements were made by James Faupel and Fran Glass respectively at the Wednesday and Saturday gatherings.

A woman and a man talking

Besa Schweitzer and Chris Weiss

Besa and Chris purchased their current home six years ago. During the first year, they rehabbed the house’s electricity, plumbing, and the walls after adding insulation of two-inch foam panels.

Stormwater management was a major factor in their backyard landscaping decisions. The street lacks storm sewers and curbs so when Besa and Chris moved in, water rushed down their long gravel hill from the street to the garage at the back of their property. They built a swale in the yard to slow rain water that runs in from the street and allows the water to infiltrate.

Adjacent to their back deck, Chris built a special stand that holds six 55-gallon rain barrels that provide water for an outdoor garden sink and the garden beds. These barrels hold rain water from the back half of the house. Gutters from the front of the house and the adjacent neighbor’s gutters flow into a rain garden.

Starting from a design she drew, Besa killed the entire lawn a section at a time, used wood chips as pathways, and planted numerous native trees, shrubs, forbs, sedges, and rushes. She also planted fruit trees including three beautiful native plums (Prunus mexicana) which she started from fruit seeds. Vegetables and tomatoes are grown in various planting beds.

Group of people sitting and listening

Attendees at the gathering

Whenever possible the homeowners reuse materials from the house rehab and elsewhere. When a neighbor put an old metal swimming pool out for trash pickup, Besa repurposed it as a pond by digging half of it below ground. Chris edged the pool with salvaged wood from their old deck to create seating. Friends contributed empty bottles which Besa made into a decorative blue bottle structure that surrounds the pond and meanders other places.

The pool is filled from the rain barrels. Overflow is then directed to a lower, second rain garden.

Repurposed bamboo is used as trellises, for hanging bird feeders, staking tomatoes, and as decorative teepees for fun. Stepping stones, rocks, wooden benches, an arbor, and garden accessories are recycled materials. An insect hotel and rotting log provide habitat.

Woman walking

Penny Holtzmann

Wildlife includes woodpeckers, owls, hawks, bats, raccoons, opossum, snakes, an occasional toad, and this year Besa and Chris hear frogs. Recently they saw a rose-breasted grosbeak visitor. Their first bluebird sighting took place at our Saturday morning gathering, an exciting experience.

The yard is certified Gold by St. Louis Audubon’s Urban Habitat Restoration Program, Bring Conservation Home.

On June 11, Besa and Chris’ yard was on the Sustainable Backyard Tour along with five other Wild Ones members’ yards.

Plant Give-aways
Several members brought seedlings or transplants from their yards to share.

Volunteer Opportunities
Upcoming events are:

Olde Towne Fenton Farmers Market – June 17
Location is Olde Towne Fenton Pavilion. Theme for the day is pollinators.

Two women talking

Besa Schweitzer (left) and Cathy Pickard

St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour – September 16
Volunteer opportunity is to help half-day at a tour site and tour the other half-day.

Greentree Festival, Kirkwood, MO – September 16, 17
Online sign-up is available through our website’s volunteer management feature. View volunteer opportunities and sign up on our website’s Dig In! website page.

St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour – September 16

Again, we are partnering with St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home to present the third annual St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour on Saturday, September 16. Past attendees asked for a fall yard tour to view important fall pollinator plants. This year’s tour will feature yards across several communities in West County. Ticket sales begin June 15. [Editor’s note: Click on the “St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour” link above for more information and to register.

Spring Wildflower Market at Shaw Nature Reserve
Dawn Weber, our Plant Sale Chairperson, reported that 31 volunteers worked at our booth, we sold 2110 plants, and our profit was $3988. This is higher than the previous two years.

A woman and a man walking

Prem Barton and Bob Pickard

Thank you to Dawn and committee members Sue Leahy and Susan Burk, and to all who volunteered to make our fundraiser a success. This event funds most of our programs for the year.

Landscape Challenge
Applications are now closed for the 2017 Landscape Challenge. The committee will evaluate the entries and tour the yards. Planting date is September 23.

Next Gathering
Yard tour at the home of Sherrie DeRousse and Andy Guti. Choose Wednesday evening July 5, 6:30 p.m. OR Saturday morning, July 8, 9:30 a.m.
Carpooling is encouraged.
Please bring a lawn chair.

Recorded by: Fran Glass, Secretary

Photos by Dawn Weber, Member-at-Large, Plant Sale Chairperson, and Chairperson, Technology Committee