Mark posts with this category that are designated as news.

Over 1,000 native plants sold our Early Native Plant Sale!

Much thanks to Seed Starters West for shepherding our EARLY NATIVE PLANT SALE on Saturday, May 11, 2019 along with work of Seed Starters East and so many others who volunteered their talents, time or who donated plants.

Sharing a passion for plants and nature with children

RIWPS volunteer Becky Settje has been generously sharing her passion about plants and nature with children for much of her life.  Her most recent involvement has been through the family and children’s walks and programs that she has led for RIWPS.  Her flexibility and openness to tailor experiences to suit the needs and interests of groups and individuals has been outstanding.  Shortly Becky and her husband will be moving from Rhode Island to Arizona.  While we will miss her, we are excited for this next adventure for her and know that when she is settled in, she will be tending a native Arizona garden and sharing her passions for all things native with budding young naturalist.  Much appreciation and thanks!

RIWPS Volunteer Awards!

At the Annual Meeting on March 30 RIWPS celebrated this years volunteer award winners. A quick look at our Lifetime Volunteers, Marnie Lacoulture & Carolyn Curtis and our Volunteers of the Year, Peggy Buttenbaum & Pat Foley.

The art and skill of botanical illustration

On March 16, Amy Bartlett Wright led a class in Botanical Illustration in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit “Entwined: Botany, Art and the Lost Cat Swamp Habitat at the John Hay Library, Brown University. Take a look!

“Yes, I will take families and children on walks in the winter!”

Winter is a great time to be outside with Becky Settje RWIPS Family walk leader. On February 20, Becky Settje organized a nature walk and activities for families at the Caratunk Wildlife Refuge for Bridgepointe Christian Church, East Providence. Activities included wrapping a walking stick with yarn and adding pinecones, sensory bottles, and a leaf ID sheet made with leaves, labels and contact paper. The walking sticks were a huge hit and the children eagerly used them for a one-mile winter walk.

Becky is offering a three part Family Walk Series on the first Sunday of April, May and June. In addition walks can also be arranged on a per request basis.  Becky will work with you to coordinate the date, place and time of the walk and any specific topics, badge work or interests you would like included in your walk. More information about these walks.

Entwined earns good reviews!

Art Review: Exhibit focuses on tiny natural wonders of bygone Providence

On January 6, 2019 Channing Grey of the Providence Journal praises the “near photographic” watercolor images of Edward Peckam, and their well preserved botanical specimens in this “small gem of an exhibit”.  Read the full review.

Pictures from the January Meeting and Ongoing Exhibit: Entwined

The exhibit Entwined: Art, Botany and the Lost Cat Swamp Habitat continues at Brown University’s John Hay Library through April 30.  On January 22 more than 100 RIWPS members and friends gathered to view the exhibit and learn about the History of Botanical Art.

A celebration of art and science. Entwined: Botany and Art and the Lost Cat Swamp Habitat

This exhibition is a unique collaboration between the John Hay Library, The Brown University Herbarium, the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society. It is the first public showing of original watercolor paintings by Providence artist Edward Lewis Peckham (1812-1889). They will be shown together with specimens from the Brown University Herbarium.

The Brown University Herbarium includes around 100,000 dried and pressed plant specimens. Herbarium specimens provide a temporal and geographic record of botanical diversity. Their role is increasingly important as rates of habitat destruction increase and climate change precipitates rapid changes to species’ ranges and ecology.

The Rhode Island Historical Society (founded in 1822) is dedicated to honoring, interpreting and sharing Rhode Island’s past to enrich the present and inspire the future. The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.

The featured artist, Edward Lewis Peckham was born in Providence, the son of Thomas and Sarah (Wardwell) Peckham. His father was the Deputy Collector of Customs for the Port of Providence for over 30 years. Edward did not attend college but in the 1830s he studied with local botanists Stephen T. Olney, George Hunt and George Thurber. His finished drawings appeared as early as 1829, and his corpus of over 500 illustrations were, according to botanist Asa Gray at Harvard University, the most perfect representations of New England plants he had ever seen. They are practically photographs, in many cases, of the entire plant, root, stem, leaf and flower. Peckham used pencil, India ink, sepia and watercolors. The Historical Society has an astonishing portfolio of Peckham’s botanical watercolors that are exacting studies of native Rhode Island wildflowers.

Stephen Olney, one of Peckham’s mentors, donated his entire herbarium collection to Brown University, in addition to his library of botanical texts, and funds for an endowed chair of natural history. Olney’s legacy formed the foundation of the Brown Herbarium and his bequest is the reason there is such a rich and important plant collection at Brown. The first professor of Botany at Brown, William Whitman Bailey, was charged with building on Olney’s donation and it was thanks to his effort, together with several other eminent botanists of the time, that the herbarium came into existence.

The exhibit matches some of Edward Peckham’s paintings with herbarium specimens of the same species. The paintings and herbarium specimens all come from the lost Cat Swamp habitat on the East Side of Providence. Freeman Parkway, Elmgrove Avenue and Arlington Street bound this area today. Some of the native species featured include: nodding trillium, marsh marigold, milkweed, sweet pepperbush and ladies tresses orchid among others.

For it’s size, Rhode Island has a relatively diverse flora. It is a meeting point for northern and southern plants. It has arboreal species more common further north in New England and Alleghanian species that extend down the Appalachian Mountains. There are also coastal plain and maritime species that add to our states diversity. It was this mixture, packed into such a small area that Peckham and his botanist friends found so exciting.

Cat Swamp, a local hotspot of botanical diversity, was destroyed following development of the Wayland and Blackstone neighborhoods in the early 1900s. The exhibit showcases the rich history of art and science in Providence and provokes viewers to consider the impacts of urban development on biodiversity. These plants may still exist in Rhode Island but they are almost certainly gone from the East Side. This is an ecological and aesthetic loss to Providence.

The exhibit will particularly appeal to those interested in nature, botany, conservation, local ecology, scientific illustration, as well as anyone interested in understanding the history of art and science in Rhode Island.

Link to Exhibit Website

The John Hay Library is located at 20 Prospect Street in Providence. It is open Monday–Thursday 10 am – 6 pm, Friday 10 am – 5 pm. Closed Saturday & Sunday. Parking is on the street.


Special Programs

Opening reception – Thursday, January 10 from 4-6 pm. Refreshments – Free.

Lecture: The History of Botanical Art From Early Times to the Present, presented by Pam Harrington, botanical illustration and horticulturist. January 19 at the John Hay Library. Free. Details

Botanical Illustration Class with Amy Bartlett Wright, professional artist, muralist and natural science illustrator. Saturday, March 16 at the RISD Nature Lab. Free. Preregistration Required. Details

Tour of the Brown Herbarium with Tim Whitfeld, Collections Manager.Friday, March 29, 2019. Free. Preregistration Required. Details

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Offering Grant

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Press Release

Deadline February 28, 2019

The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is offering a grant to aid individuals in the study of wild plants and their habitats. To qualify you must be an educator, a member of a Rhode Island botanical or environmental association or a student in a field related to botany or environmental studies.

The grant is for up to $2,000 and includes a one-year membership to RIWPS. The project goal must involve environmental activities or research in any area of study related to wild plants and/or their habitats. These activities may involve such things as installation of gardens, invasive removal, or support for extracurricular activities. The grant can also be used for project materials, to create workshops or courses with a community outreach component. The award is open to Rhode Island residents or non-residents at a Rhode Island educational institution.

For additional information, specific grant requirements, eligibility guidelines and applications, call the RI Wild Plant Society at (401) 789-7497 (voicemail) or email

You can also download the information from the website,  Click here

Applications must be received by February 28, 2019

Send to: RIWPS, P.O. Box 888, North Kingstown, RI 02852 Or

The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.

A RIWPS baseball style cap!

Take me out to the garden,
Take me out to the woods,
Show me some native plants in a pack
I don’t care if I ever come back
Let me root, root, root
For the native plant team.

RIWPS baseball style cap will be available for purchase at our General Meeting in January.  Cost is $20.00