Mark posts with this category that are designated as news.

RIWPS Strategic Plan 2017-2021

At the January General Meeting, January 21, 2017. President Dick Fisher presented the details of the newly adopted Strategic Plan.  This plan calls for an ever increasing focus on offering Rhode Island native plants at our plant sales, building on our educational offerings, assessing growth opportunities for Seed Starters, focusing conservation activities on education and sharing that information, as well as improvements in board communication and organization.   Review the Strategic Plan 2017-2021

Invite: Workshop with Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke


On Saturday, June 24th, Sogkonate Garden Club (Little Compton, RI)  invites you to their free workshop, The Living Landscape, by nationally acclaimed authors Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke from 9-3 at Wilbur McMahon School.

Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, nationally recognized experts, will use lecture and photographs to demonstrate how to create landscapes that are not only beautiful but also support local wildlife and biodiversity. Attendees will see how they blend art, ecology and cultural geography in the creation and conservation of livable landscapes. They will also hear how insects and plant interactions support diverse wildlife communities.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to see your landscape in a different way.

Spaces are limited.  Advance registration is required.

Registration is at


Annual Appeal Letter

Our work …

Model Pollinator Gardens throughout New England

Congratulations to New England Wild Flower Society as it launches Pollinate New England program which includes building a network of model pollinator gardens throughout New England.

Read their press release which includes a short questionnaire for those interested in getting involved or receiving updates about this project as it progresses.

Put Down Those Pruners: Pollinators Need Your ‘Garden Garbage!’

For the home landscape, what fall gardening practices best enhance ecological diversity?  A message brought to you by the Xerces Society.  Justin Wheeler, Web & Communications Specialist writes,

It should be welcome news for weary gardeners. You’ve weeded, tilled, and toiled under the hot sun all summer long, and now — it’s time to stop. For many, however, the temptation to pick, pluck, and prune the landscape to make it neat and tidy for the winter is too hard to ignore. This impulse to “clean up our gardens for fall” has serious impacts on a whole host of pollinators and beneficial insects. All it takes is a weekend and some garden tools to wipe out whole populations of insects who have been hard at working hard in your yard all summer too – provisioning their nests and making well-stocked winter homes for the next generation.  Read the entire article on Xerces Society Blog

Journaling through the heat wave

Naturalist and writer Bruce Fellman describes his experience on Saturday, August 4 at a RIWPS walk.  Journaling through the heat wave begins …

“Earlier this year, I wrote about what promised to be a splendid, four-part series of walks called Plants and Their Places that was sponsored by the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, a truly wonderful organization dedicated to the “appreciation, protection, and study of our native plants and habitats.”

In the write-up, trek leader and botanist Doug McGrady proposed introducing flora aficionados to his favorite locales and the green things they supported, with investigations of intriguing areas in North Stonington, Conn.; Arcadia and Scituate in Rhode Island; and, most recently, the superb 2,000 or so acre Tillinghast Pond Management Area in West Greenwich.

“I wanted to attract both experienced botanists and newcomers alike—to help them share what they love and find something new,” said McGrady.

I instantly intended to go on all the walks…” Read the rest of the article at Southern Rhode Island Newspapers.

native plant sales

Help. Donated Native Plant Project Needs a New Home

Donated native plants are an important part of the success story behind both our May, Early Bloomer & Spring Ephemeral Plant Sale and our June, Best Native Plant Sale in Rhode Island.  In early Spring, RIWPS members and friends (with our help, should they wish) dig and divide their native plants which we pot and grow for our sales.

For the past 4 years or so, Sandra Thompson and Nancy Weiss-Fried have collected many of these donated plants and potted them in Sandra’s garage, watering and nurturing them in her driveway. An impressive sight!

Sandra is moving and will not have space at her new home for this undertaking. We are seeking someone who might be willing to carry on. We can supply soil and provide a homemade potting table with multiple stations as well as a potting crew.

Might you be interested or have suggestions  for a location where we could continue our potting program?

Please contact Sandra if you have questions, suggestions and of course, if you would like to be part of the donated native plant project. We guarantee that you will become very familiar with many of the wonderful native plants that grow in RI.

And just how many native plants were bought at RIWPS June Plant Sale?


Rhode Island gardeners really get it.  Planting native plants helps restore the natural environment, creating more favorable conditions to maintain and increase the native bird, butterfly and other insect populations that depend on native plant communities. Gardeners showed up in droves early Saturday morning, June 4th with wagons, boxes and a variety of tote bags to do some serious shopping and learn about the benefits of growing native plants.

If you didn’t attend this annual June native plant sale, you missed a super opportunity to pick wild plants from a vast collection of perennials, trees and shrubs native to Rhode Island, New England and Eastern North America prior to colonial settlement.  Many plants at this sale (and at our earlier May sale), such as milkweed, Virginia bluebells, ferns, trumpet vine and foamflower sold out very early. Plants list by category – first by latin name and then by common name

Over 100 RIWPS volunteers shared their love and enthusiasm for our wild flora with a crowd eager to “Grow  Native”.  We especially welcomed those who either volunteered and who donated plants from their garden for the first time.  Our sale continues to grow every year providing additional funds to further our mission of protecting our native plants and their habitat.

Volunteers in our Seed Starters groups have gotten so motivated that they are organizing to propagate natives in their home landscapes to provide for future sales. We have already begun to start cuttings and seeding for upcoming sales.

To all our volunteers and those who purchased plants, thank you for supporting this big event.  Enjoy growing your wild plants.  Pictures from our June Sale.

This is a year round project and if you are feeling the spirit and desire to grow native, you can sign up to help at  It’s a great way to learn about our native plants and how to grow them.

 See you next Spring!
From Sandra Thompson and Linda McDaniel, Co Chairs of Best Native Plant Sale in Rhode Island, June 2016

R.I. volunteers work to rescue and preserve native plant species

By Liz Klinkenberg, Providence Journal
Special to The Journal
Posted May 28, 2016 at 12:01 am
Updated May 28, 2016 at 6:10 am

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. — When you pull into Sandra Thompson’s driveway, you can see firsthand how committed she is to promoting wild plants in Rhode Island. The pots, flats and trays line the circular drive, and curl around the walkway to the front door and back around to the garage where they stand five rows deep in front of the gas grill and garage bays.

“We have more than 300 plantings right here,” said Thompson, as she surveyed her East Greenwich yard. “And this is just my house — we have more than a hundred volunteers.”

Thompson is the co-chairwoman of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society’s annual plant sales, held at the URI East Farm in South Kingstown. While an early-season sale took place this month, the group is busy preparing for its biggest event, which it calls “the Best Native Plant Sale in Rhode Island.”

The sale, scheduled for Saturday, June 4, at 9 a.m., has more than 3,000 shrubs, trees, vines and perennials available — all grown locally and suited to Rhode Island gardens.

“We have an army of volunteers who seed, propagate and rescue native species,” said Thompson, now in her 10th year volunteering with the sale. “In February and March, we begin to dig things up just as the plants start to come alive so we can get them into pots and they can begin to get established.”

Native honeysuckle vines, wild geranium and bloodroot are packed in rows with Christmas, Cinnamon and Ostrich Ferns. Little bluets, or houstonia caerulea, promise a sea of small, blue blooms throughout the entire month of May.

Solomon’s Seal, or polygonatum, a native plant seen on the East Coast from New Brunswick to Florida, produces long, graceful stems with dark green leaves with a series of white bells hanging below.

“Part of our mission is preservation,” said Thompson. “I’ve propagated liatris scariosa variety nova englais, or northern blazing star, because they’re not doing very well here anymore. It is a tall plant with a fuzzy, purple-y, pin cushion on top.”

Thompson said its last known wild area, on Block Island, was wiped out during a storm a few years ago.

“It’s beautiful. You would hate to see it disappear.”

According to Anne Raver, a Rhode Island Wild Plant Society volunteer and avid gardener, that’s an important message to hit home.

“Gardeners can slow the rate of extinction by planting natives in their yards,” said Raver. “It’s not only the plant species that is protected, but the insects and birds that rely on them.”

For Wild Plant Society member Judy Ireland, it’s more about achieving a balance in her sanctuary than keeping to a strict code.

“I’m not a purist,” said Ireland. “But I do love living in the woods.”

Ireland spent many summers in the Maine woods with her father and draws her inspiration from those early memories. She moved to Rhode Island in the ’80s and joined the Wild Plant Society.

“When we first moved here, this yard was a flat lot with a vegetable garden in one corner,” said Ireland, as she looked over her wooded oasis in the middle of a North Kingstown subdivision. “But if you want native, you can create it.”

For a water feature, Ireland gathered large stones from a neighbor and had them placed in a very natural way. “There’s a liner, but you don’t see it. It’s all very heavily planted and we’ve done away with the fine edging and mulch. The end result is very natural looking.”

Ireland’s backyard woodland is a tranquil step into nature. The garden is alive with the sounds of birds, bugs, toads, titmouse, barred owls and chipmunks. “We’ve even had a great egret here,” she said.

The pond is surrounded by marsh marigolds, violets and aster.

“The loveliness of native plants is that they provide beauty across the whole season,” said Ireland. “You start with the tiny ephemerals, anemones and the red, native columbine, and then that leads into the blue bells. When they are at their height, they are a beautiful, dramatic blue cover surrounding the pond. It speaks to me. Everyone has to let a garden speak to them.”

Trained as a landscape architect, Ireland focuses on textures, planting levels and rooms. “Natives work well with exotics,” said Ireland. “Once you start looking, you can see all the textures and surprises.

I like a variety of areas for plants,” she said. “You go from a wild area and then step up into a more refined space. It is still native, but it has a different feel. When you step down into the mowed grass, it can surround you. It is full sun, surrounded by ferns, woodland azaleas that are sweeter smelling and huge Heuchera coral bell called autumn bride — that’s not a native, but in the fall it produces a spike with little flowers that just lights up the whole area.”

A path made of slate and rounds from tree trunks lead the way from the pond to the sunken garden, to the woods and then to a more formal area with a stone bench, mown grass and statuary. The path is lined with jack-in-the-pulpit, foxglove, wild ginger and violets. Ferns unfurl through sweet woodruff. “With the interplay of light, it looks like a painting.”

Find more information about sale, which runs June 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine, and the Wild Plant Society at

 — Liz Klinkenberg is a freelance writer who lives in Warwick. She can be reached at