From our president: 2016 year in review

By Marsha Gebhardt
President, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

tow women with garden tools with gnarled branches

From left to right: Marsha Gebhardt, President of Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter with Penny Holtzmann, Treasurer, removing invasive bush honeysuckle

From an editorial review of The Little Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas on Amazon from School Library Journal:
Based on a South American indigenous story, The Little Hummingbird tells of a forest fire that causes the animals to flee for their lives. All except Little Hummingbird, that is, who begins ferrying single drops of water from a nearby stream to the forest. As she works steadfastly to douse the flames, one by one the animals cry out their reasons for running away. Finally Big Bear asks, ‘Little Hummingbird, what are you doing?’ and she replies, ‘I am doing everything I can.'”

Many St. Louis Wild Ones members and followers operate like the hummingbird – doing what we can to preserve and increase biodiversity, for the sake of the well-being of our communities, country, and planet. We provide and improve habitat in our own yards. We inform and inspire others by talking with neighbors, advocating with local community leaders, and volunteering for tabling events and other projects.

Over the years, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter has proudly developed, maintained, and increased collaborative relationships with community organizations that have compatible goals. All of these efforts are having an effect.

Listed below are reminders of the many projects we’re involved with and the organizations we collaborate with. In addition, this list serves as a reminder of participation and volunteer opportunities for 2017.

One woman and four men sitting on a stage

Speakers from left to right: Scott Woodbury, Curator of the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at SNR; Perry Eckhardt, a Community Conservation Planner for MDC; Dave Tylka, author of Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People; Glenda Abney, Director, EathWays Center at Missouri Botanical Garden; and Simon Barker, Chair, Membership Advancement, Grow Native!

In 2016, our member garden centers, Sugar Creek Gardens and Greenscape Gardens, experienced an increased demand for native plants. In addition, our third business member, Native Landscape Solutions had an increasing demand for native landscaping.

The 2016 Partners for Native Landscaping workshop at Powder Valley sold out. Therefore in 2017, the workshop will start being held at St. Louis Community College at Meramec which can handle up to 500 attendees. Partners are Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR); St. Louis Audubon-Bring Conservation Home (BCH); Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC); GrowNative!; Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD); and Meramec Community College (Horticultural Department)

In 2016, we shared a booth with BCH at St. Louis Earth Day. We gave 300 seedlings to enthusiastic festival goers. In 2017 due to the popularity of the environmental stewardship aspect of St. Louis Earth Day, the event will expand to two days. Our Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter will have an entire booth to increase our visibility and provide additional education and inspiration.

Rows of potted plants

Thirty-three volunteers helped sell 1,871 Missouri wildflowers and shrubs.

The ever popular Spring Plant Sale at SNR once again provided high quality plants to avid gardeners. From this annual event, we earn the bulk of our our operating expenses, which we accomplished again in 2016. Our experienced native plant experts were on hand to answer questions and spark interest in those not yet familiar with our organization. In 2017, we are implementing enhanced features to make the plant sale even more user friendly and help familiarize people with our organization.

In partnership with BCH, the first St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour in 2015 sold out, so we increased the number of people who can attend. In 2016, ticket sales increased to nearly 300. The event generated excitement and created camaraderie among attendees. For 2017, the decision was made to hold the Tour in September, which will showcase native gardens in a different season.

The Mallard Lake Project at Creve Coeur Lake Park has two native plant gardens. Along with other volunteers, Wild Ones members helped plant the two areas and Jeanne Cablish designed one of the gardens. The project is developing educational, descriptive signage and, our Chapter has promised funding for those signs in 2017. Partners involved in this project include St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation, St. Louis Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MDC, Forest Re-Leaf of Missouri, Missouri Master Naturalists, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter, St. Louis Art Works, and the Creve Coeur Lakehouse.

Garden with sign, "St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour"

Mark O’Bryan’s yard on the tour

In 2016, we continued our financial support of the Native Plant School at SNR. I encourage Wild Ones members to take advantage of these excellent classes in 2017, which are listed on our website’s calendar.

Everywhere we are hearing, “Native plants and biodiversity are increasingly important to more people.” We must take advantage of this momentum. Now, more than ever, we must each bring our figurative drops of water to the forest fire – to protect and enhance our essential biodiversity.

2016 Was a Very Good Year…And 2017 Will Be Even Better!

3 thoughts on “From our president: 2016 year in review

  1. I am so glad that I am one of your members! We are very active and I am proud of our accomplishments. This fall I had 50% of available yard planted in native plants and I can’t wait till spring to see the results. I have already planted the remaining space with native plants with very pleasing results.

    Native is the way to go!

  2. Our Chapter offers some wonderful programs with experts, inspiration, tips, and plants. I hope to attend even more events in 2017!

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