Summer Seasonal Hike

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season hike

The second of our four seasonal hikes is scheduled for June 6 and will be led by ecologist John Evans.  These hikes explore one local natural area in each of four seasons to see how our native plants change and vary through the year.

Attendance will be limited to 12 people.  You do not need to attend all hikes. Please join us for this hike, even if you were not able to attend the spring hike.

To sign up for this hike, email us at

This event is reserved for Wild Ones members only.  Interested?   Join Wild Ones!

Plant Natives 2015!

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Chapter Events.

Plant Natives 2015: The Living Landscape is an appropriate name for our chapter’s 4th annual native plant symposium coming up January 24.  It’s not a matter of gardening or landscaping style that we select native plants to use in our landscapes — it is an absolute imperative that we use regionally appropriate and native plants to create habitat and be more sustainable in our practices.

Our keynote speaker Doug Tallamy writes and talks eloquently on the subject of why it matters what we do in our urban and suburban areas.  You can read his short essay “A Call for Backyard Diversity” on the American Forests website.  Dr. Tallamy starts at the beginning of the web of life — plants.  Life is fueled by the energy captured from the sun by plants, it will be plants that we use in our gardens that determine what nature will be like in 10, 20, and 50 years from now.  The kind of plants we use will determine what animals are provided food, shelter and other requirements.  We are stewards of the land and charged with the responsibility to see that the land is best managed not just for our needs but the larger community of life.

If you want to be truly alarmed, consider a recent study revealing species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans arrived on the scene, stating that the world on the brink of a sixth great extinction.  Numerous factors are combining to make species disappear much faster than before, said Pimm and co-author Clinton Jenkins of the Institute of Ecological Research in Brazil. But the number one issue is habitat loss. Species are finding no place to live as more places are built up and altered by humans.

Please join us Saturday, January 24 for what will be an excellent opportunity to learn how to help turn around habitat loss.  As we native plant advocates know, you don’t need to lose beauty in the process and in fact will create more beauty by the wildlife you will attract and support.  For more information, go to the symposium page on this website to register and get more information.

Sorry – online registration is no longer available.  You may register at the door Saturday, January 24.

2014 in the Rear View Mirror

Posted by & filed under Chapter Events, Programs.

One of my last acts as chapter president is to thank you all for your contributions this year that helped make the Tennessee Valley Wild Ones a truly great organization of volunteers and concerned citizens. Together we are restoring the Earth one landscape at a time!

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and look at what we’ve accomplished this past year —

–The Third Annual Native Plant Symposium delivered on its promise to bring in high quality speakers and experts. We also expanded the opportunity to buy native plants and artwork as well as network with others interested in more sustainable landscaping.

–The Certificate in Native Plants program offered through the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center and in partnership with the Tennessee Native Plant Society rolled out of the gate in full force, with all courses filled to the limit.  We’ll be providing more information about 2015 classes, but you can go to the Events page to see dates and topics for the first part of the year.

Landscapes in Progress got off the ground, an enjoyable guided tour of members’ yards showing both the trials and triumphs of landscaping with native plants. We hope to offer two LIPs in 2015, one in May and the other in September.

–Members visited Gee Creek, May Prairie Natural Area and Reelfoot Lake State Park and learned from native plant experts Leon Bates (Gee Creek and Reelfoot Lake) and Dennis Horn (May Prairie). Observing native plant communities in the wild is an excellent learning tool and dependable source of inspiration.

–We brought in special speakers entomologist and beekeeper John Skinner, PhD and writer and environmental activist Janisse Ray to examine important issues such as pesticides and pollinators and maintaining genetic diversity in our seed stocks. We also had a Bee House Building Workshop to follow up on our theme this year of protecting our pollinators.

Wild Ones members were out busy in the community as well advocating for and informing about habitat restoration and sustainable gardening practices. Several members worked with the Brookwood Elementary School in Dalton, Georgia and St. Nicholas Elementary School in Chattanooga design and install butterfly gardens. We continually get requests for this assistance and I encourage you all to participate in these fun and rewarding activities.

Looking forward to 2015, we’ve got a lot of exciting programs scheduled, starting off with our 4th annual symposium “Plant Natives 2015: The Living Landscape” on January 24. We are trying something new and holding a reception for the speakers on January 23. For more information and to make a reservation, go to Space is limited, so don’t tarry!

Happy New Year!


Looking Forward to 2015

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Annual Meeting, Chapter Events, Programs.

Last Saturday, our chapter held its second Annual Meeting at Greenway Farm in Hixson. The feedback I got was that we dialed up some excellent weather and people seemed pleased with the Greenway Farm venue.  We reviewed our chapter’s activities so far this year and looked forward into 2015.

First, the 2015 Native Plant of the Year was revealed: Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). The reasons are myriad, including Butterfly Milkweed:

  • is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun.
  • is drought tolerant and a good rain garden plantbtf mlkwd
  • is a host plant for the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar
  • has showy orange flowers provide nectar for many butterflies, bees and other pollinators; and
  • has no serious insect or disease problems; even when defoliated by caterpillars it is not harmed.

If these reasons weren’t enough, we decided Butterfly Milkweed will be a good plant to bring to public information events and possibly sell to the public like we did in 2013 for the Wild for Monarchs campaign. Additionally, we will promote neonicotinoid-free sources of these plants (and possibly companion plants).

Secondly, the new officers and directors for 2015-2016 were elected:

President: Dennis Bishop

Secretary: Beverly Inman-Ebel

Director at Large: Karna Levitt

With Dennis moving from Vice President to President, I will move back to the Vice President spot through 2015. Juan Gonzalez will continue as Treasurer through 2015, and Cheri Hubbard and Valarie Adams will also continue their service as Directors this coming year. Marcia Stevens was announced as the new co-chair of Membership and Communications, joining out-going Secretary Nora Bernhardt as co-chair of that committee. Lucy Scanlon and Louise Gilley continue to serve as the Board-appointed co-chairs of the Public Information committee.

2015 Programs and Projects

We also gave a preview of programs planned for 2015 starting with the January 24 symposium. Registration for the symposium “Plant Natives 2015: The Living Landscape” is open on this website or you can pick up a brochure at the December 8th Holiday Potluck and register through the mail.

Also on tap for 2015 are field trips, hikes, member meetings and workshops.  Stay tuned!

Chapter Elections!

Posted by & filed under Annual Meeting, Chapter Events.

It is my pleasure to announce the Nominating Committee’s slate of candidates for the 2015-2016 chapter officers and board members.  This slate will be presented to the membership at our annual meeting coming up Saturday, November 8 at Greenway Farm in Hixson.

The Nominating Committee has proposed the following Wild Ones members for 2-year Board positions for 2015-16:

President – Dennis Bishop

Secretary – Beverly Inman-Ebel

Member-at-Large – Karna Levitt

With Dennis Bishop’s resignation as Vice-President to run for President, I am nominated to replace Dennis for the remainder of his term.

At the Annual Meeting, additional nominations from the floor are welcomed.

The following Board positions will continue through 2015:

Treasurer – Juan Gonzalez

Member-at-Large – Valarie Adams

Member-at-Large – Cheri Hubbard

The appointed co-chairs of the Public Information & Education Committee (Louise Gilley and Lucy Scanlon) and co-chairs of the Membership Committee (Marcia Stevens and Nora Bernhardt) will also serve as voting members of the Board.

Elections will be just one of the activities at our second chapter annual meeting. In case you haven’t seen the agenda for this day of camaraderie and sharing, please go to November newsletter for more details.  Also, make sure you register for the meeting on our website: if you haven’t already done so.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2015 Native Plant of the Year!

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: 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,

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!