Fall in Love with Fall

Posted by & filed under Annual Meeting, Programs.

It’s officially autumn, my favorite time of year.  The weather is turning cooler, and the great outdoors can be even more enjoyable. We have plenty of activities coming up, including hikes, trips, and of course the Annual Meeting on November 8 at Greenway Farm in Hixson. Make sure you check the Events page on this website and read the Chapter newsletter that comes out by email to make sure you don’t miss anything. (If you are missing the newsletter, make sure you look in your email junk or spam folders.)

We are also sharing a lot of information about native plant sales, workshops, and hikes on the Chapter facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/143491742351509/ This is an open group and not just Chapter members are contributing to the news items, plant identifications, event notifications and congenial conversation. Of course, we hope these facebook contributors become Wild Ones members!

Fall is also a great time to create more habitat in your landscape by planting native trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, sedges, ferns – just about everything.

Here are some fall ideas:

  • Help native bees and put up bee houses and bee hotels. (We just had a great workshop this weekend and some of us have new bee houses to install.)
  • For ground nesting bees (about 70% of native bee species), leave some sunny areas of your yard free of mulch.
  • Resist the temptation to deadhead seed heads from your perennials and grasses – this is food for birds and small mammals through the fall and winter.
  • Consider mowing fallen leaves right into your lawn; compost leaves or use them as mulch in your garden beds. I know some of you are happy to take your neighbor’s leaves off their hands as well. Yard waste still contributes a substantial portion of what goes into public landfills!
  • Overseed your garden beds and meadows with native grass and perennial seeds for denser vegetation next year.
  • Reduce the size of your lawn by starting a meadow in a sunny area of your lawn; plant native trees like oaks, cherries, and other trees that support wildlife!
  • Create more understory in your wooded areas and woodland edges by planting native shrubs, especially shrubs that produce berries (Elderberry, Dogwoods, Viburnums) or are caterpillar hosts (Spicebush).
  • Plant more densely!  Fill in your garden spaces with native grasses and perennials. You can never have too many plants, in my opinion.

These are just a few ways you can improve the quality, sustainability and beauty of your landscape. Oh, and did I mention that gardening is the latest fitness craze?

I hope you are inspired and energized!

Landscaping for Life, Living Sustainably

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Programs.

Living more “sustainably” has become a common phrase. I’m not sure whether everyone knows what they are talking about when they use that phrase, so let’s look at how the dictionary defines the term sustainable:

  • Able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
  • Able to be upheld or defended
  • Relating to, or being of method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
  • Able to last or continue for a long time

How can we live more sustainably since that surely should be our goal? We can use resources so that “the resource is not depleted or damaged.” As it applies to our landscaping or “gardening,” most of us make a conscious effort not to deplete or damage resources such as water, soil, or the environment as a whole. Many of us use native plants extensively and avoid using pesticides to accomplish this goal of sustainability.

We should also take into consideration the harm that can result from depleting the genetic resources that are encoded in the plants we put into our landscapes. An alarming trend has been underway in the agricultural and horticultural trades for decades – decreasing the genetic diversity of food crops as well as landscaping plants. Genetic diversity is important for many reasons, including the species’ ability to withstand environmental changes and respond to disease and infestations.

Genetic manipulations, or even the discovery of new plant selections, may result in more visually appealing flowers and plants. Marketing these plants, as well as those with greater resistance to a selected pest or disease, helps keep the horticultural and agricultural trades flush. These plants are often more appealing to landowners, especially gardeners searching for more spectacular blooms and foliage coloration or easier maintenance. Ecologists, however, are finding that these plants may not be as recognizable to the pollinators with which they have developed a specialized relationship. This concern has led Wild Ones to emphasize the use of “straight species” rather than cultivars or “nativars.” (see, for example, http://www.wildones.org/about-us-2/wild-ones-position-statements/)

Our July 24 speaker, Janisse Ray, has spent a lot of time researching this subject of sustainability and genetic diversity which she eloquently describes in her book “The Seed Underground.” She represents an important union between environmentalists and gardeners – that we shouldn’t rely on the natural areas to maintain genetic diversity and that we can all do more to live more “sustainably.”

I hope to see you there. (To sign up, please go to this page)

Protecting Pollinators

Posted by & filed under Programs.

The Tennessee Valley Chapter and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences are sponsoring a lecture series aimed at presenting information about horticultural practices and their effects on the environment.  The first two programs pick up on the Protecting Our Pollinator theme we have been following this year.  It builds on the Wild For Monarchs campaign Wild Ones kicked off last year.  We still care about Monarchs and are committed to promoting milkweed and native nectar plants; we are building on this successful public awareness and education campaign.

The first of this lecture series is Monday, June 9 at 6 PM at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga University Center.  Dr. John Skinner, a University of Tennessee entomologist and bee pollination expert will present “Pesticides and Pollinators,” a review of current research related to bees and the use of pesticides in agricultural and non-agricultural applications.  Dr. Skinner’s lecture will consider what we know, what we don’t know and what we need to know about the relationship between bee decline and pesticide use.  While Dr. Skinner’s expertise is primarily in bee ecology, he will also review the effects that pesticides may have on other beneficial organisms.  There will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

On Thursday, July 24, we will be hosting a presentation by award-winning writer, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray entitled “Sustainable Growing, Heirloom Seeds, and Protecting Our Pollinators.”  This presentation will be a must-see for gardeners of all stripes as well as sustainable food advocates.  We will be posting more information about this presentation as details become available.  You can get more detail about both lecture by visiting the Events page on this site.

More plans are in the works for public presentations in fall and winter to stay tuned.

April Is National Poetry Month

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Was never true love loved in vain,
For truest love is highest gain.
No art can make it: it must spring
Where elements are fostering.
So in heaven’s spot and hour
Springs the little native flower,
Downward root and upward eye,
Shapen by earth and sky

-From Middlemarch by George Eliot

What does poetry and native plants have in common other than as a metaphor for love in George Eliot’s verse?  Poets have often found inspiration in nature; with the new life emerging from the soil, we are motivated to improve our corner of the world.  And there are plenty of opportunities for us to spread the word, maybe if not poetical, then practical about the need to restore our land by using native plants and sustainable landscaping practices.

You can go to the Events page on this site to find more information about the events below.

April 12-13 – Master Your Garden Expo

We will have an exhibit at the Second Annual Master Gardeners of Hamilton County Expo at Camp Jordan in East Ridge, TN.  This 2-day event provides a great opportunity for us to get out the word about more responsible gardening practices.  The Expo runs from 10 am until 6 pm each day.

April 11-13—Trails and Trilliums, Sewanee

The Public information team will also be promoting the Wild Ones and native plant gardening in the friendly confines of the Friends of the South Cumberland’s annual 3-day wildflower festival Trails and Trilliums.  It’s also a great opportunity for you to get out and hike and enjoy workshops, art, native plant sellers, hayrides and lots of other activities.

April 14 – Member Meeting: 6:00 PM

We will be meeting at green|spaces, 63 E. Main Street, Chattanooga for our “monthly” member meeting.  This year, we are not only promoting “Wild for Monarchs” but “Protecting our Pollinators” as well.  April’s meeting will feature a presentation (by yours truly) on Pollinator Gardens.  This meeting is free and open to the public.  June’s member meeting (June 9) will be taking a look at Pollinators and Pesticides to continue on this theme.

April 19 – Native Plant Rescue

Trina Hayes is putting together a rescue on Signal Mountain at our usual rescue site.  Look for more details in an upcoming message.

April 21 – Board Meeting: 6:00 PM

The Chapter Board meeting will take place at green|spaces, 63 E. Main Street, Chattanooga.  The meeting is open to members and this Board meeting will look forward to some exciting new programming possibilities.

I’ll see you out and about in April.

Planning is already started for the 2015 Symposium

Posted by & filed under Programs.

I hope those of you who attended the Third Annual Symposium this past Saturday’s symposium enjoyed the day – the great speakers, lunch, artists & vendors, entertainment, informational exhibitors, nurseries and other native plant enthusiasts in attendance.  Judging from the number of people loaded down with plants, we were all inspired to get out into our yards and gardens to make improvements!

My thanks to the many people who helped with the planning and deployment of the symposium.  I’m afraid to list them all for fear that I’ll miss someone . . .  Let’s just say that it takes a village to raise a symposium.

In the next few weeks, Symposium Chair Juan Gonzalez (and special thanks to him for organizing this program) will be tabulating evaluations to learn what we did right and what we could have done better.  We will also entertain ideas on future programs and speakers as well as anyone who would like to volunteer to help with next year’s program.  Feel free to send me any additional ideas using the contact form on the “contact us” page and I’ll forward them along.

And remember — if nothing moves in your yard except a lawnmower, you need to think about switching to a natural landscape!

Show Bees (and Other Pollinators) Some Love

Posted by & filed under Advocacy.

Last week, the Centers for Food Safety and a coalition of other environmental advocacy groups launched the Show Bees Some Love campaign encouraging garden center consumers to send a valentine to the large home improvement centers asking them to stop selling plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids.   This class of pesticides has been linked by scientists to the demise of our native and imported (honeybees) pollinators.  The European Union recently banned neonics out of a concern for pollinators and the threat to the food supply.  (The CFS has good information on its website  about neonics and the threat to bees and pollinators they pose.  You can also sign a petition directed at Lowes and Home Depot here.)  Since one out of every three bites of the food we eat depend on pollinators, we should be concerned.

One question we need to ask ourselves is how we might be inadvertently using these and other pesticides that imperil our pollinators?  Many of us think of pesticides as coming in a spray bottle that we periodically spray on a plant when we see insect damage or eggs.  What we forget are the products that are systemic — soluble enough in water to be absorbed by the plant and then move around in its tissues.  That can ultimately include pollen and nectar!  Those products are often pellets or used as soil drenches so we don’t think of them as moving through the plant but rather staying in the roots and soil.  (Many of us avoid using pesticides altogether which is really best practice!)

You can inform yourself by reviewing the list below prepared by the Xerces Society showing the range of products that include neonicotinoids.  Perhaps you are using neonics without realizing you are also poisoning the flowers, nectar, and pollen used by bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Examples of Neonicotinoid Garden Products Used in the United States

Neonicotinoid Garden & ornamental uses Garden product trademark names
Imidacloprid Seed dressing, soil drench, granules, injection, or spray to a wide range of ornamental plants, trees, and turf. Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Insect, Disease, & Mite Control
Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Insect Control
Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed
Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control
Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose & Flower Care concentrate
DIY Tree Care Products Multi-Insect Killer
Ferti-lome 2-N-1 Systemic
Hi-Yield Systemic Insect Spray
Knockout Ready-To-Use Grub Killer
Lesco Bandit
Monterey Once a Year Insect Control II
Ortho Bug B Gon Year-Long Tree & Shrub Insect Control
Ortho MAX Tree & Shrub Insect Control
Surrender Brand GrubZ Out
Clothianidin Seed treatment, foliar spray or soil drench for turf, a variety of ornamental trees, and flowers. Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose & Flower Care granules
Green Light Grub Control with Arena
Thiamethoxam Soil drench, injection, granules, or foliar spray to a wide range of ornamental plants and turf. Flagship
Maxide Dual Action Insect Killer
Acetamiprid Foliar spray for fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, and flowers. Ortho Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer
Ortho Rose and Flower Insect Killer
Dinotefuran Soil drench or foliar spray to leafy & fruiting vegetables, turf, & ornamental plants. Green Light Tree & Shrub Insect Control with Safari 2 G
Zylam 20SG Systemic Turf Insecticide


Unfortunately, we have the growing problem of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (an exotic insect from Japan) that is killing Eastern hemlocks in our area.  Currently, the “go to” treatment to Save Our Hemlocks is the Imidacloprid drench – a neonicotinoid that is taken up by the Hemlock tree and is credited for protecting those trees for 5 to 7 years against this insect pest.  That means, too, the treated Hemlock’s pollen, seeds, and other parts will carry neonicotinoids for years to come.  As we have seen with Roundup-Ready and Bt corn, bees will collect corn pollen even though that plant is primarily wind-pollinated.  Perhaps the recent spate of frigid weather will help to naturally suppress these exotic pests (that includes the Emerald Ash Borer) and we can lay down our chemical arms.

In the next few months, the Tennessee Valley Chapter will be getting the word out about how to protect our pollinators.  Watch for events coming up in April and June devoted to educating landowners about what we can do to help stop the demise.

Forewarned is forearmed.  BEE careful what you use in your yards and gardens!


Monarch News

Posted by & filed under Advocacy.

A friend forwarded this news item that appeared on the front page of Yahoo News this week:

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The stunning and little-understood annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies to spend the winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing, experts said Wednesday, after numbers dropped to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993.

Monarch graphTheir report blamed the displacement of the milkweed the species feeds on by genetically modified crops and urban sprawl in the United States, extreme weather trends and the dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat in Mexico due to illegal logging of the trees they depend on for shelter.

For the full article, go to:


I also got a link from a Wild One and Beekeeper sharing a similar article that appeared in “Catch the Buzz,” an ezine for Beekeepers:


What can we do to help?  Keep spreading the word to our friends, neighbors, legislators and other landowners about how our agricultural and landscaping practices negatively affect the natural world.  We can also reduce our pesticide use, plant more milkweed and other host and nectar plants, reduce our lawn, and support habitat restoration efforts.

Speaking of milkweed, if you are aware of milkweed sources in this area, please share that information.  Although the Tennessee Valley Chapter has not purchased milkweed for 2014 (as we did in 2013), we can share seeds and root divisions to help boost the supply in this area.  Feel free to post a comment below suggesting milkweed seed and plant sources in this area.

Bottom line:  The Wild for Monarchs program continues to be relevant and we need to keep at it.

What’s Up for 2014

Posted by & filed under Programs.

My last post expounded on the many activities we engaged in 2013.  Not ones to sit idly by, the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones is plunging ahead in 2014 with an ambitious agenda of educational programming, plant rescues, public information events, presentations — the whole gamut.

Many of you braved the polar vortex last week to watch the DuPage Chapter’s DVD of Dr. Doug Tallamy’s presentation. I have posted a snippet of that presentation on facebook page where Dr. Tallamy tells us what we should do to support biodiversity in our yards. We will make the DVD available to members who missed the presentation but would like to watch the DVD.

Here is a short clip on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkmJuFImP6c&feature=youtu.be

This week, Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center hosted a reception for the new Certificate in Native Plants program.  The program is being so well received that all the scheduled classes for 2014 are full!  If you didn’t get a chance to register, don’t despair.  RRA&NC’s program organizer Dennis Bishop (and TVWO Vice President) is looking into offering additional classes this year.   We will let you know when these programs are added to the schedule.

Of course, March 8 is the Third Annual Native Plant Symposium.  We’ve developed this year’s program based on feedback from past symposia and are bringing in speakers who will give practical advice on landscaping with native plants, eradicating invasives, and improving your soil.  And we will have native plants, garden art, exhibitors and other reasons to attend if our first class panel of speakers isn’t reason enough.

Look at our Events page to check on upcoming events.  For those of you who like electronic calendars, you can import the events schedule into your computer, tablet, smartphone or other device as an iCal.  You can also join our facebook group and get event notifications as well.

Stay tuned!


2013 In Review

Posted by & filed under Programs.

One of my duties as chapter president is to submit an annual State of the Chapter report to Wild Ones national.  As I reviewed our 2013 activities, I realized how far we’ve come in our first full year as a Wild Ones chapter.  While we didn’t hit every goal, we accomplished quite a bit of what we set out to do this year.  In fact, we actually accomplished MORE than what we had sketched out at the beginning of the year.

I want to thank everyone, including our partner organizations, who helped make it possible.  Our partners in 2013 include, in no particular order, the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County, Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, the Tennessee Aquarium, the Friends of the Cumberland Trail, the Chattanooga Association of Landscape Professionals, and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.  And of course, there are the Wild Ones — truly forces of nature!

2013 Highlights:

–The Second Annual Native Plant Symposium reached over 180 participants and in addition to excellent information provided an opportunity to buy native plants, art, and learn from exhibitors.

–Participated in the design of a Certificate in Native Plants program in conjunction with the Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center and the Tennessee Native Plant Society.  The program will be introduced in January, and classes will begin in February, 2014.  (We’ll be posting more information about this exciting new program.)

–Designed and installed a native plant Butterfly Garden at our partner organization the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center.  We have pledged our support to design and help pay for interpretive signage.

–Supported and helped install a Natural Path in partnership with the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. We donated $500 to the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County to purchase native plants for this path that abuts the Chattanooga Riverwalk Park.

–Rescued native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers through the Rescue Program featured in the June Wild Ones Journal .  Our chapter was credited by the developer in recent press releases as being important to this eco-friendly development.  Some of these rescued plants were recently used to landscape a trailhead on the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail as part of a local Eagle Scout conservation project.

And of course, there was the Wild For Monarchs program and a lot of Milkweed activity:

–Plunged headlong into the project by purchasing 1,500 milkweed plugs from Monarch Watch

–Participated in the “Master Your Garden” Master Gardeners of Hamilton County Expo with a Wild For Monarchs exhibit

–Held a member-only Milkweed Preview Sale and sold milkweed by the flat and half flat.  Many Wild Ones took advantage and we sold more than 22 flats (around 700 plants) that rainy afternoon in May.

–Sold milkweed during the Chattanooga Area Food Bank Spring Garden Tour (this received mention in Chattanooga Times Free Press Article promoting the CAFB fundraising event http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/may/25/beyond-the-garden-gate/.  Thank you, Food Bank, for providing us with the opportunity!

–Presented “Wild For Monarchs” to the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County monthly meeting in June and sold milkweed to MGs inspired to help Monarchs

–Sponsored with the Tennessee Aquarium “Mystery and Magic of the Monarch” a terrific presentation by Wanda de Waard.  Attendees were given a New England aster, an important butterfly nectar plant, and remaining milkweed and New England asters were also sold to participants.  (WUTC 88.1 FM gave us some press: http://wutc.org/post/dewaard-presents-mystery-magic-monarchs-825)

–Donated milkweed to several local schools to support their Monarch Waystations.  Word got out about our activities through our local public radio station, WUTC 88.1 FM.  (You can listen to a podcast of one of the stories here:  http://wutc.org/post/tn-valley-wild-ones-planting-milkweed-save-monarchs)

In addition to these program highlights, we hosted educational meetings, hikes, build days, milkweed up-potting sessions, propagation workshops, and more.  If you couldn’t find something that struck your fancy, well, I just don’t know what to say!

Stay tuned — 2014 could be even bigger and better!

And the Winner Is . . .

Posted by & filed under Annual Meeting, Programs.

Wow.  What a great first Annual Meeting we had yesterday at Beverly Inman-Ebel’s splendid Spring Creek Retreat.  Along with the election of new Board members and Officers (Dennis Bishop, Vice President, Juan Gonzalez, Treasurer, Cheri Hubbard, Board member-at large, Valarie Adams, Board member-at-large), we decided that for 2014, there will be several “Native Plants of the Year.”

Rather than select one plant of the year, the consensus was to select four plants, each representing a category of landscaping plant:

Tree:  Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Shrub:  Red or Black Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia or A. melanocarpa)

Low groundcover:  Blue-eyed Grass (Sysrinchium angustifolium)

Vine:  Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

To view or download the Native Plant of the Year 2014 presentation that includes descriptions and photos of these plants, please click this link:  2014 PLANT OF THE YEAR final.

It was also decided that American Beautyberry will be strongly considered as the Native Plant of the Year for 2015.  We will all try to start Beautyberry (purple and white forms) in our home nurseries to prepare for public events in 2015.

These native plants will be used to illustrate why we should all use native plants in our landscapes to support biodiversity, a healthy environments, and, well, life in general!

Other annual meeting outcomes — we will continue to spread the word about Butterfly Gardens throughout the year.  One idea is to partner with Chattanooga and Hamilton Parks to being putting in butterfly gardens which will be sponsored by area residents who will be involved in the design, build and upkeep of these gardens.  Also, we are inviting garden designers to come up with Monarch Waystation and other pollinator habitat designs.  Garden designs will be posted on this website to help gardeners and landscapers by providing a template.  More information to follow . . .