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RIWPS First Online Plant Sale – Much Thanks

RIWPS’s first online plant sale is over, plants have been picked up and we hope are settling into gardens throughout our region. Thank you to all who supported our sale and brought 1600 plants into our communities.

This has been an unusual year for us all and we have had to adjust to working differently and that includes our seed starter groups. We have worked all year in small groups, wearing masks and social distancing to put together a nice selection of plants.

Special thank you to Sally Johnson and Melissa Hughes who made it possible to purchase our inventory online; Mary Lou Upham, who printed orders for us, and to those who donated plants to the sale. Several members volunteered significant effort to help load cars, direct traffic, and set up tents and tables.

Thank you to a community of volunteers who have worked together to continue our mission to acknowledge the importance of native plants and make them available for our home gardens and communities.

native plant sales

Plant Sale for Members

The ordering phase of our plant sale for members, from August 1 through August 9, is the beginning of having more than a thousand additional native plants in the landscape.  Almost 50% of the species we had available sold out, including all trees and shrubs.

Members will be picking up their plants at designated times during the last two weekends of August.  The fall is an ideal time to plant!

Thanks to our volunteers who continue the work of the sale and our members who will be enriching their gardens and the general community by supporting local ecological diversity.  As Doug Tallamy notes, what we do in our  landscapes is “natures best hope”. We recommend his book  under this title as well as his recorded lecture.

We continue to look forward to a time when health restrictions allow us to create a much larger inventory and to offer our traditional spring sales in May and June.

Sigrid Hewit-transplanting

In Memoriam: Sigrid Hewitt

With sadness we announce the passing of Sigrid Hewitt, RIWPS member and volunteer, on May 3, 2020. Sigrid brought her strong interest in nature and plants with her when she moved to Rhode Island fifteen years ago. A long time volunteer at Seed Starters West, Sigrid was awarded a Lifetime Service Award in 2018, especially for her contributions to this group.

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society sponsors pollinator garden at Kelly House Museum

LINCOLN – Walkers and cyclists will have something new to see as they pass by the Kelly House Museum in Lincoln after members of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society planted more than 160 native plants in a new pollinator garden at the site last Friday morning.

In Memoriam: Joan Pilson

With sadness, we announce the passing of RIWPS extraordinary volunteer, Joan Pilson. Joan joined RIWPS shortly after her retirement in 1990 and was soon involved in many aspects of the Society. She was a board member, serving as President from 1993 to 1995 and then as Co-President the following year. Spanning her tenure on the Programs Committee, which included being Chair, and continuing this focus on educational events through her participation in the current Walks & Workshops Committee, Joan created, arranged or oversaw hundreds and hundreds of programs.

Joan was also an original member of Seed Starters. In 1991 when Dorothy Swift suggested having a group dedicated to native plant propagating, Joan arranged the meeting. Within weeks, seeds were germinating. Joan was hooked, becoming a permanent member of Seed Starters and earning a Certificate in Native Plants from Native Plant Trust (formerly New England Wildflower Society). But Joan was also interested in protecting plants in their native habitats and proudly joined RIWPS’s campaign to add Sea Lavender to the list of plants protected by the “Christmas Greens” law, thus prohibiting the collecting or picking of this plant on public lands.

Joan promoted RIWPS’s mission through her work with the Environmental Council of Rhode Island and the Native Plant Trust.  Joan was an overseer of  the NPT and for a number of years served in an Ambassador role for them . One result, a joint RIWPS and NPT Native Plant Certificate Program. Joan received a Rhode Island State Service Award from the Native Plant Trust in 1999.

In recognition of Joan’s contributions in so many different capacities at RIWPS, she was given a Lifetime Service Award in 2011. Leader, organizer, volunteer scout and mentor, docent for native plant exhibits at the Rhode Island Spring and and garden tours, editorial advisor to WildfloraRI, host for Winter book discussions, planning groups and informal gatherings of volunteers at her home along with her husband Michael. Every committee sought out Joan – Special Events, Programs, Walks & Workshops, Seed Starters, Plant Sales, Flower Show, WildfloraRI. Each was made better by her efforts.

Joan gifted RIWPS with her generous and positive spirit, her stamina and spunk. We are very thankful.

Obituary notice.

A big Thank You to Dick Fisher, RIWPS President, 2016-2020!

Many of us feel Dick deserves more fanfare. However, since we could not gather in March to thank him nor will  be to gather anytime soon, we thought the least we could do is share a selection of thoughts from fellow board members.

Dick graciously agreed to helm the RIWPS ship at a critical time for the organization. I was relatively new to RIWPS and did not know Dick at the time, but those who advocated bringing him on clearly knew what they were talking about. He ably led the board through an examination of its mission, the development of a strategic plan, and numerous other important debates and decisions during his tenure as President. Moreover, Dick’s kind and generous manner, deep knowledge, and humble nature have been a blessing to RIWPS in one way or another for many years!
– Amanda Freitas

Dick has been a wonderful president for these past few years. At the start of serving, he successfully managed our long-term planning project, which led to some revision of goals for the society. Many committees and projects have continued to run smoothly and our society has been growing. We have had some successful joint projects with other organizations, such as the native plant art exhibit last year and the “at-risk” plant project just beginning. The society receives many requests for help or information or action and Dick is skillful at assessing these and saying “no” in a very diplomatic way to ones that do not fit well with our mission and current activities. RIWPS is thriving, and we can thank Dick for his knowledge and effective leadership.
– Dorothy Swift

It was great working with you at the Pomham Rocks Lighthouse on behalf of RIWPS. Thank you for everything, especially your welcoming, kind and thoughtful leadership.
– Beth Dickson

Thank you Dick, for your stalwart leadership, your calming presence and your always thoughtful & intelligent input. You have made everyone feel an important part of the process of Board leadership and you will be missed at the helm. Thank you also for the great cookies at every meeting!!
– Susan Shuster

Thanks Dick, for serving the past four years as RIWPS’ President. Your calm leadership, thoughtful suggestions and guidance moved RIWPS along through various stages and events. Some of the highlights I am particularly appreciative of:
• For your leadership in the Strategic Planning process
• For promoting the RIWPS 30th Anniversary in 2017 when RIWPS co-founder and first president, Lisa Gould,
came up from North Carolina to help celebrate and to address the gang with a talk … Back to Our Roots – Being Wild about Wild Plants
• For the January Social evolving into a more social event – this was your idea! A chance to meet informally and get to know each other.
• For fostering the collaboration with Brown University Herbarium, RI Historical Society, Brown University’s John Hay Library and RIWPS – which resulted in the exhibit at John Hay Library – Entwined exhibit and Pam Harrington’s talk on The History of Botanical Illustration.
• For guiding RIWPS involvement in the “at risk” plant propagation project
• For representing RIWPS at the annual RI Land & Water Summit
• For finding us our Bookkeeper – Kate O’Leary! She is a joy to work with.
– Mary Lou Upham

Thanks Dick for your leadership especially through your guidance during the strategic planning process and the review of the bylaws.  Your gentle but firm leadership has made the board and the society stronger as a community and broadened outreach to the public.
– Mary O’Connor

We are all so glad that you will continue to serve on the Board as a Trustee-at-Large!




Winter Book Discussion: The Brothers Gardeners

During the afternoon of February 9,  eleven RIWPS members gathered in the comfortable living room of the Pilson house around a roaring fire. As if on cue a few snow flakes fluttered past the windows. Elaine Trench lead the discussion of “The Brother Gardeners” by Andrea Wulf.

RIWPS January Potluck Social

On January 11, 2020 RIWPS celebrated GO WILD, an afternoon social potluck, held at the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence. 


Thursday November 7 marked the last walk in our 2019 series First Thursday Botanizing Walks. This series, which is free and open to the public explores a wide variety of natural landscape in Rhode Island.

Keep Our Native Plants Humming – Video Recording and Plant List

What you can do to support native bee pollinators in your landscape. Video recording of the October 2019 Lisa Loftland Gould Lecture by Dr. Gegear. Native Plant list by bee tongue length.