It's an Action-Packed June!
Healing the earth, one yard at a time

June 2017 Newsletter

In this edition:

Prairie & Meadows for Your Backyard - June 12
Pickett State Park Field Trip - June 17
Plant This, Not That - July 10
Summer Landscapes in Progress - July 22
History of Botanical Illustration - August 14


Native Summer Flora of Forest & Fields - June 10 (Full)
Bird & Butterfly Gardens - July 15
Plant Form & Function I - September 9
Native Plant Communities - September 16

President's Update
Seeds for Education Grants

Events and Happenings during June




Photo above is Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)


Prairie & Meadows for Your Backyard
Panel Discussion

Monday, June 12, 2017
6:00 pm, green|spaces
63 E. Main St., Chattanooga
FREE and open to the public

Have you considered adding a prairie or meadow to you backyard?  A panel of Tennessee Valley Wild Ones members -- Bob Gray, Jim Mahurin, Bill Moll and maybe others -- will answer all of your questions.  Learn about preparing your planting area, deciding whether to seed or rely on the seed bank and how to maintain the area. Examples will include plots of several sizes and types.

Pickett State Park Field Trip

Saturday, June 17
Wild Ones Members Only

Join other members of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones for a trip to see some rare and unusual native plants of Tennessee.  The hike will be led by Park Ranger Travis Bow.

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park lies within the 19,200-acre Pickett State Forest, and is adjacent to the massive 120,000 acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.    

Dramatic sandstone cliffs, stone arches, rock shelters and rushing mountain streams make Pickett State Park on the Cumberland Plateau a scenic wonderland. Unique microclimates form around these geologic formations, creating havens where diverse flora and fauna thrive.

In Tennessee, Pickett is second only to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in biodiversity. Rare plants, such as Cumberland sandwort, Lucy Braun's snakeroot, and rockhouse featherbells grow along trails. 

Monday, July 10, 2017
6:00 pm, green|spaces
63 E. Main St., Chattanooga
FREE and open to the public

Have you ever wondered what you can plant if you want to get rid of invasive exotic plants on your property, such as English ivy, winter creeper, zebra grass, bush honeysuckle and others, or what you can plant instead of these horrible invaders?   There are lots of great native alternatives to almost any kind of invasive exotic plant.  

Join the Tennessee State Natural Areas regional stewardship ecologist, Lisa Huff, for a presentation to highlight some great alternative natives plants to replace or use instead of invasive exotics.  The presentation is specific to exotic species and alternatives in the East Tennessee region.  We will also discuss techniques for getting rid of exotics.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
FREE for Wild Ones Members only

Landscapes in Progress programs are seasonal events that are open to Wild Ones members only.  Our Summer Landscapes in Progress features three gardens of Wild Ones members in the Hixson area. This event is an opportunity to learn about native plant gardening.  

Rather than a traditional "garden  tour" where everything is perfect, Landscapes in Progress is an event where members -- host and visitor -- can ask questions, share information about their own endeavors, and spend time with others dedicated to landscaping with native species. Over time, we have re-visited some of the same gardens to witness the evolution and growth of a landscape, all in the name of becoming better gardeners.  

Registration for the Summer Landscapes in Progress is FREE and limited to 20 participants.  Sign up early to guarantee your spot at this popular event.

Monday, August 14, 2017
6:00 pm, green|spaces
63 E. Main St., Chattanooga
FREE and open to the public

Join botanical artist Linda Fraser to learn about 
the history of botanical illustration, beginning in 1450 BC.

Save the date! 
Our public programs are always on the second Monday of each month.
Look for more details in the next newsletter.


We Need Your Help!

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones is led by a 100% volunteer board, and all of our programs and activities are implemented 100% by volunteers (only our instructors and presenters are compensated in any way).
We invite ALL Wild Ones members, as well as those considering becoming a member, to become involved.  Volunteering is the best way to meet others who are passionate about biodiversity and determined to garden and live responsibly.  Members are an unrivaled source of knowledge on regional conditions and plants, and are willing to share both. Volunteering helps expand the chapter's work in our community and increase our impact as we work to save the world, one yard at a time!

June 17 - Pollinator Celebration at Reflection Riding
Volunteers are needed to staff the Wild Ones booth at this fun event.

Certificate in Native Plants Classes

The Certificate in Native Plants program is designed to expand students' knowledge of botany, ecology, conservation, and uses of native flora in the southeastern United States. Students will get both classroom education and hands-on application to increase knowledge and skills that can be applied at home, in the community, and at work. The course setting will provide a common ground for native plant enthusiasts to meet and connect with others who share their interests. 

The CNP is designed to benefit both home gardeners and landscaping professionals alike.  You do NOT need to be working toward the Certificate in order to register for classes.

CNP classes are limited to 25 participants.  They fill up quickly, so register now to ensure your place.   The June 10 class is already full, so register quickly for open classes below!

Click the buttons below for program details and registration.

Bird and Butterfly Gardens for Homes and Communities
Instructor: Christine Bock Hunt
Saturday, July 15, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center
ELECTIVE Class (4 credits)

Plant Form & Function - Part 1
Instructors: Richard Clements, Mary Priestley
Saturday, September 9, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Reflection Riding Arboretum &  Nature Center
CORE Class (6 credits)

Native Plant Communities
Instructor: Jonathan Evans
Saturday, September 16, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m Central Time
University of the South, Sewanee, TN
CORE Class (6 credits)


Update from Our Chapter President

In May, Tennessee Valley Wild Ones board voted to endorse the Forever Green This was an attempt by many organizations and persons to persuade the Tennessee State Legislature to set aside 1% of the state budget to preserve forested headwaters, agricultural lands, and historically noteworthy sites.  The initiative failed.  Due to the strong response by so many participants such as us, we will try again in the next budget cycle next year.  

We believed then and now that the best way to fulfill our mission to increase biodiversity through native plants is to preserve native landscapes and work with those who would use them responsibly.

President's note:  Although much debate about biodiversity and environmental regulation occurs nationally, in reality it is the individual states where most enforcement and preservation occurs.  Or not.  Please consider this when voting for your state representative or state senator, because they wield tremendous power over the environment, far more so than federal representatives or administrators.  Until we elect persons who care about biodiversity and the environment, we can only expect requests such as this -- for a mere feeble 1% set aside -- to fail.      ~ Lisa Lemza


Tennessee Valley Chapter Launches 
Chattanooga Area Pollinator Partnership
and Seed for Education Grants

To improve pollinator habitat in the Chattanooga area for butterflies, bees, moths, bats, hummingbirds and other beneficial insects/animals, the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones is launching the Chattanooga Area Pollinator Partnership (CHAPP), modeled after the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership.  Visit the CHAPP website for a preview --

More news about CHAPP will be coming soon, but in the meantime, we are pleased to announce the opportunity for local schools and educators to apply for a Seeds for Education (SFE) Grant.

Teachers and students across the United States are expanding learning opportunities by  enhancing their schoolyards with butterfly gardens and other pollinator habitats. These projects enrich the learning environment and provide aesthetic and environmental benefits.

By planning, establishing and maintaining such projects, students learn valuable life skills, including patience and teamwork. They can engage parents and the wider community in a project they can point to with pride for years to come.

The Seeds for Education program provides assistance for all aspects of such projects.  Cash grants under $500 are available for plants and seeds, and in-kind donations from  Nursery Partners can help stretch these dollars. We can help you locate experts and information in the Chattanooga. 

Click HERE for additional information about SFE grants.  Applications for awards for this year are due August 1, 2017.


Barn Nursery Pollinator Rally
Saturday, June 10

The Barn Nursery Pollinator Rally is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, from 11:00am- 1:00pm.  You can l earn how to create a pollinator garden, large or small. With the help of the Barn Nursery's professional staff, you can identify and select pesticide-free pollinator plants. Handouts will be available with a list of plants that attract butterflies, bees, and birds.

Speakers include:
Craig Walker, Plant Doctor at The Barn Nursery
Ann Brown, Wild Ones member
Christine Bock, Horticulturalist at the Tennessee Aquarium

There will be information about the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC), a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators across America.

Ann, whose garden is a "Certified Butterfly Garden," will provide information on the North American Butterfly Association's certification program.


30th Annual Spring Garden Tour
Saturday & Sunday, June 10 & 11

The 30th Annual Spring Garden Tour, sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County takes place on Saturday, June 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 11 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Featuring seven public and private gardens located around Chattanooga, Hixson and East Brainerd, the tour benefits educational programs sponsored by the Master Gardeners and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. Tickets for the entire tour are $15, good for both days, and can be purchased on the day of the event at any of the gardens. 

The tour will feature five private gardens: two in East Brainerd, two in Hixson, and one in downtown Chattanooga. The native plant garden of Wild Ones member Sally Wencel will be one of the gardens featured.  The Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts, a Master Gardener-sponsored program, and the award-winning, environmentally-friendly gardens at the Blue Cross Blue Shields of TN headquarters will also be on the tour. 

For HERE for more information.


Pop-Up Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, June 17

Trailhead Nursery will have a "Pop-Up Pollinator Plant Sale" from 10am - 2pm on June 17 at Whole Foods.  Butterfly milkweed, whorled milkweed and common milkweed plants will be available.


Reflection Riding Pollinator Celebration
Saturday, June 17

The Wild Ones will partner with Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center to present the 2017 Pollinator Celebration, Saturday, June 17, 9:30am - 4:00pm. Wild Ones members admitted free -- wear your badge!

10:00am  Bee Native.  Lisa Lemza from Wild Ones will talk about why native plants are important to our yards, gardens and the world.  

10:50am  Bee Diverse.  Christine Hunt, the lead horticulturist at the Tennessee Aquarium, will discuss the creation of gardens to attract Birds and Butterflies.

12:45pm  Bee Gardens.  Sally Wencel from Wild Ones will discuss "Out of the wilds and into your garden: Vegetable and Fruit Gardening with Native Plants" with info about how to use native plants to increase pollination and yields and how to attract beneficial insects to your garden.

1:30pm   Bee Smart.  Ann Brown from Wild Ones will discuss native bees as the keystone species that hold entire ecosystems together.  Native bees are the most important part of the food chain and are "essential to the entire fabric of life on the planet."  Who are they and why are they in decline?


Rita Venable to Speak Reflection Riding
Saturday, June 24

Butterfly expert Rita Venable will give a presentation of "A Home for Butterflies" on June 24 from 11:00am - 1:00pm.   Rita is the author of Butterflies of Tennessee and will be discussing her book and signing copies. Bring a lunch.
Reflection Riding Members: Free.   Non-Members: $10 Adults; $7 Children


Tennessee Plant Atlas Needs Your Help

The botany community in Tennessee is developing an online Tennessee Plant Atlas in conjunction with Kentucky.  This joint site will feature distribution maps, descriptions, detailed photos, digitized herbarium specimens, and other data for all plant taxa found in the two states.   As the site is being built, work to digitize 900,000 plant specimens in Tennessee is also taking place.  High resolution images of each specimen only include species, state, and county information. Other data from the specimen labels must be entered by hand at a later date. Help is needed to append this additional label data to each image, and the work can be done from home using a personal computer.  Special plant knowledge is not required, only the ability to read and type!
This is a great opportunity for your members to make an important contribution. Please consider helping with this worthwhile effort.  If you would like to participate, follow the directions below.   Direct questions to Margie Hunter,  
Instructions:  Go to the website  NotesFromNature and create a log in. Select Tennessee Ferns Part 2 - these are specimens from Tennessee Tech, UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, and Rhodes College.  In the next round, we'll be adding Austin Peay and MTSU.  After a 2-minute tutorial, you may begin entering label data.  Through log-in, the system will track your statistics (e.g., specimens done).  
Accuracy is important, but the system design requires 2 out of 3 people to record the exact same data from the same label before it will be officially entered, providing greater assurance that the data has been typed correctly.  In other words, at least one other person must enter the exact same data you do for that plant label to be accepted.  Once official, the specimen will enter the SERNEC Portal where all the images are being stored.  You can visit this site to view Tennessee's herbarium specimens once they are entered.  


Milkweeds of the Coosa Valley
"The Coosa Valley Prairies in Floyd County, GA have small patches of tallgrass prairies with species that are unique...  Many of us have seen the bright orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa ) on the side of the road so we know milkweeds in general can handle tough, dry conditions. This area was an amazing display of 5 species thriving in the prairie: butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa ), prairie milkweed (A. hirtella ), greenhorn milkweed (A. viridis ), short green milkweed (A. viridiflora ), and whorled milkweed (A. verticillata ). We also found white milkweed (A. variegata ) in the some of the surrounding woodlands."  Read more.

Blackberries, Butterflies, Bees and Birds
Common, or Allegheny, Blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) brambles are prevalent in woodlands and meadows in our area.  Mary Ann Borge shows photos of the variety of pollinators attracted to this species.  Read more.

The Bumbles Nest
Bumble bees are one of the few native bees that form a social nest, which is a collection of wax balls with eggs and a nectar pot.  In this "Using Georgia Native Plants" blog posting, learn about their nesting habits.  Read more.

Pussytoes and Butterflies
"Plantain-leaved Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) bloom in early spring, their flower shoots and leaves emerging from the soil as the temperatures warm and the days lengthen.  The common name 'Pussytoes' comes from the resemblance of the tight flower clusters to a cat's paw, especially when the flowers are still in bud.  Both the common and scientific (plantaginifolia) names refer to the appearance of the mature leaves of this plant, which resemble those of the Plantains (Plantago species).  The leaves remain green throughout the winter."  Read more.


Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) plants have been in full beauty these past few weeks and are attracting their share of pollinators.  Spicebush Swallowtails and Great Spangled Fritillaries are quite fond of it, as are a number of Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) in the photo above.

Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus Kalmii) are similar, but smaller and with their forward-most dark patch being heart-shaped rather than diamond-shaped and the rear dark spot having a white spot on it.  Milkweed bugs do not bite, sting or carry diseases. They are best left alone, as any insecticide control for them may harm Monarch caterpillars and other pollinators, and overall they do little damage to the Milkweed plants. 

Butterfly Weed contains a cardiac glycoside that makes for a beneficial relationship with the Monarch butterfly as this toxin is taken in by the Monarch caterpillar and is passed on to the adult butterfly, as well... and to any unlucky bird that might decide to make either a meal. The same toxin absorption is true for the Milkweed Bug, which are generally considered as beneficial insects which feed on Milkweed leaves, stems and seeds and pollinate too.    

Photo by Mike O'Brien

Spotted recently:  White Milkweed (Asclepias variegata). The umbels have 30+/- white flowers that create a spherical white ball, a snowball-effect, which contrasts with its green foliage. Leaves are oval, 2-6" long and ½ -3" wide, generally thick with the upper side hairless and dark and the underside a lighter color with hair.  It thrives in open woodland and woodland edge habitats and requires some shade.  

Photo by Mike O'Brien.

Eyed Elater Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus) is very common in the eastern USA. The larvae live in decaying wood and feed on larvae of wood boring beetles and other insects.  These adult beetles "have the ability to snap a spinelike process ... with enough force to propel themselves into the air." This can disorient a predator. Adults are more active in the late daytime hours and at night and will come to outdoor lights. They mostly feed on roots, tubers or seeds. Their life cycle varies from one to three years.    (Source, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects)

Photo by Mike O'Brien

American Lady butterfly feeds on Plantain Leaf Pussytoes
Photo by Mike O'Brien

Immature Eastern Pondhawk male dragonfly
Photo by Mike O'Brien


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Wild Ones: Native Plants. Natural Landscapes is a national non-profit organization with over 50 chapters in 13 states that promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Please read more information about Wild Ones at
The Tennessee Valley Chapter presents guest speakers, field trips and other special events throughout the year, as well as an annual native plant and natural landscaping symposium in early spring. 
To contact our chapter, email us at