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Native Plants for New England Gardens

Are you interested in growing native plants in your garden?  Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffee’s new book, Native Plants for New England Gardens, is reviewed by EcoRI News.


Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Press Release

Deadline February 28, 2018

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, 2018

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.

Annual Appeal

Help us continue our work.

Over 4,000 More Native Plants in the Landscape!

Much thanks is due!

Saturday June 3rd was a beautiful day to hold our Best Native Plant Sale in RI. The plants looked good and were picked up quickly by the many customers who came to purchase shrubs, ferns and wildflowers.  The Early Native Plant Sale in May, featuring early bloomers and spring ephemerals was not so lucky – it was cold, windy and rainy but in spite of the weather sales were up from last year.  With over 4,000 native plants added to gardens around the state (and into CT and MA) it was a very successful season! Enjoy some pictures.

Now that the sales are over it is time to express appreciation to all the volunteers who contributed to their success.  The list is long – we had over 70 people who volunteered in some way but many went over and above.

Our two seed starter groups under the guidance of Dorothy Swift (SSE) and Helen Drew (SSW) worked many hours to provide a variety of plants for both the May and June sale. Our member propagators generously donate so many plants and  also work the day of the sale – our thanks to Dick and Marty Fisher, Carolyn Curtis and John Wilson.

Karen Asher volunteered to give a class on plants and companion plantings and Garry Plunkett taught us about ferns and shrubs.  Both new and veteran volunteers expressed appreciation for the chance to review the wide variety of plants that are offered at the sales.

Carl Sawyer managed the set-up and take-down of the tents & tables and the parking crew. This year with his van (really a mini bus!) he made light work of transporting shrubs to East Farm.

And Marnie Lacouture for selecting and managing the inventory of shrubs offered.

Thank you to Linda Sollitto for offering us the use of part of her yard for potting and storing our dug plants – which overwhelmingly is the work of Sandra Thompson and Nancy Weiss-Fried. Our members and friends generously donate their native plants from their own landscapes.

A special thank you to a group of volunteers who worked together this year to create new plant signs for the sale, Ann Raver, Susan Marcus, Pat Cahalan, Carl Sawyer and others.  Each sign featured a picture of the flower or plant as well as a description of its growing conditions.  There were many positive comments by customers.

Mention should also go to the nurseries we use to supplement our inventory: Rhody Native™ in South Kingstown, Plane View Nursery in Portsmouth, Morning Star in South Kingstown and then New England Wetlands, Sylvan Nursery and Hillside Nursery in Massachusetts and Eastern Plant in Maine.

Profits from these sales help fund our educational outreach including speakers at our meetings, programs and walks, our publication, WildFloraRI, and our annual grant to individuals engaged in work to study and preserve native plants. Moreover, the sales themselves are a major opportunity for us to educate the public and bring attention to the importance of native plants.  Most of the plants sold would not be available through local sources.  Working together on the sale is a great and fun way to meet other RIWPS members and become an active part of our organization.  Please think about signing up next year.

Linda McDaniel, Plant Sale Committee Chair

If you are interested in joining the Plant Sale Committee please contact me at



Welcome to the Native Jungle, Where Local Birds and Bees Thrive

In her recent article in EcoRI, Welcome to the Native Jungle, Where Local Birds and Bees Thrive, RIWPS member Anne Raver, writes about why she chooses to plant natives.  Anne, a Warren, R.I., resident and longtime gardener, has written about landscape and the environment for more than 30 years.

May 26

When you stop thinking about plants as pretty outdoor furniture on a green rug, and see them as complex organisms that feed thousands of beneficial insects, birds and mammals, your garden becomes another universe.

My husband and I moved up from an old farm property in Maryland to a sunny corner lot in the middle of Warren, R.I., a few years ago, and decided to devote most of the space to a large kitchen garden, surrounded by plants that would feed and shelter wildlife.

We kept some of the old plants that were here: a gnarled cedar tree, purple lilacs, a magnolia, and two purple smoke trees that edged the yard, as well as the horse chestnut and craggy catalpa near the house.

But we took out almost everything else: a couple of Japanese maples and peonies, German irises, hybrid tea roses, burning bushes, and a severely clipped row of yews alongside the house.

We dug up a good part of the lawn for our vegetable garden, another swath for prairie flowers such as Joe Pye-weed, ironweed and rudbeckias, and another for what must look like a collection of weeds — goldenrods, little bluestem, river oats, milkweed — and sticks — native viburnums, birch, beach plum, staghorn fern, high bush blueberry — to our neighbors, because they are still too young to look like anything else.

They can’t see what we see in our mind’s eye: these plants as they develop and fill in over the years, providing a lush and beautiful habitat for insects, birds and animals.

It’s easy to get inured to the grim statistics: 95 percent of the wilderness that once lay across the continental United States is now covered with cities and suburbs, 30 million acres of lawn, highways and malls, industrial parks, landfills, and many forms of agriculture.

That leaves just 5 percent for wildlife. No wonder half the bird species of 40 years ago have disappeared. Or that more than one-third of North American birds, 432 species, are at risk of extinction.    Read more….

Michael Dirr speaking in Newport on April 25

Michael Dirr, highly acknowledged expert on woody plants, will be delivering the keynote lecture, In Praise of Noble Trees, for Newport Arboretum Week.  In addition to his widely known reference texts, Manual of Woody Landscapes Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture and Propagation and Uses, Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs – An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Dirr’s Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated EncyclopediaDirr is credited with over 300 scientific and popular publications.  The lecture will begin at 6 PM at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport Rhode Island.  It will be followed by book signing and reception at The Colony House

Tickets are $30.00 per person; $15.00 for students at the door.

More info about Newport Arboretum week including the lecture.

Awards, Awards, Awards

The RIWPS March 25  Annual meeting was a time for awards.

Annual Volunteer awards were given to Linda McDaniel and Pat Cahalan.  Linda was recognised with the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work as co-chair of the 2016 Plant Sales Committee and her work in Seed Starters East.  RIWPS is delighted that she is heading the 2017 Plant Sale Committee!  Pat received the Lifetime Service Award for the contributions to WildFloraRI, Seed Starters West, Plant Sales and a variety of other tasks.

Congratulations and thank you to Linda and Pat for your dedication to RIWPS’ mission and for making the experience of other volunteers so wonderful. (See previous award winners)

Hilary A. Downes-Fortune, a teacher at the Compass school in Kingston was awarded the $1,000 to install a pollinator garden and learning landscape at the  school.  The funds will be used to purchase a variety of locally grown native plant species for this garden.  The garden will be a part of the South County Pollinator Conservation Project, a collaborative effort of the Rhody Native Project (RI Natural History Survey), RI Wild Plant Society, New England Wildflower Society, and Ragged Orchid Farm in Wakefield. The goal of the SCPCP is to serve as a new Citizen Science effort to begin the documentation, monitoring, and research on Rhode Island’s plant/pollinator communities.

An easily- applied survey technique using a basic digital point-and-shoot camera will allow students to conduct periodic surveys by photographing insect visitors. Each photo becomes an instant record of the insect, the plant being visited, and the date. A database of all photos will document plant phenology (flowering period) and insect visitation that will be an invaluable tool in assessing the region’s pollinator fauna, as well as identifying the best plants to use in pollinator conservation efforts.

The pollinator garden will also include an Audio Bee Cabinet, based a design of Sarah Peebles, an artist/ecologist in Toronto, Canada. The Cabinet is an observable nesting sites for wild, solitary bees and wasps. Students can watch and listen to discover how bees vary in size, shape and color, and how their habitats and life cycles differ.