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.

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.

Peter Del Tredici

Peter has written:

“While most people have a negative view of spontaneous urban plants, they are actually performing many of the same ecological functions that native species perform in nonurban areas. ..absorbing excess nutrients that accumulate in wetlands; reducing heat buildup in heavily paved areas; controlling erosion along rivers and streams; mitigating soil, water, and air pollution; providing food and habitat for wildlife; and converting the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels into biomass.

The typical urban plant is well adapted to soils that are relatively fertile, dry, unshaded, and alkaline. Through a twist of evolutionary fate, many of these species have evolved life-history traits in their native habitats that are ‘pre-adapted’ them to flourish in cities.

 Marble or brick buildings, for example, are analogous to naturally occurring limestone cliffs. Similarly, the increased use of deicing salts along walkways and highways has resulted in the development of high-pH microhabitats that are often colonized by either grassland species adapted to limestone soils or salt-loving plants from coastal habitats. Finally, the hotter, drier conditions one finds in cities favor species that come from exposed, sunny habitats in nature.

Preadaptation is a useful idea for understanding the emergent ecology of cities because it helps to explain that some plants and not others grow on piles of construction rubble, chain-link fence lines, highway median strips, pavement cracks, and compacted turf.

While most biologists view invasive plants as a serious biological problem, the fact remains that their initial introduction and distribution were usually the result of deliberate decisions that reflected the economic, ornamental, or conservation values of the day. Between the 1930s and the 1960s, various federal, state, and local agencies encouraged— and often subsidized— the cultivation of plants such as kudzu, multiflora rose, and autumn olive for erosion control and wildlife habitat purposes. It should come as no surprise that they became major problems forty years later, after millions of them had been planted. Indeed, the spread of nonnative species across the landscape is as much a cultural as a biological phenomenon, a fact often overlooked by advocates of strict ecological restoration.”

RIWPS Fall Plant Sale — And another 600 more native plants in the landscape!

Saturday August 25th was a great day for our public sale at Pawtuxet Village Farmer’s Market in Cranston giving more people opportunity to add native plants to their gardens as cooler weather approaches. And they did come! Not only our members and Cranston area shoppers but also from CT and MA.

Thank you to the volunteers who came to help customers choose plants, set up tables & tents and transported plants and particularly to the Seed Starters East for this sale and outside propagators who are critical to all our sales. The 600 plants sold help to support activities and speakers for RIWPS. Our members look forward to our yearly sales and the wide spring to fall variety of native wildflowers, ferns, shrubs and trees at affordable prices.

We depend heavily on generous volunteers throughout the year to organize these events and invite you to become one of them.Some tasks can be done at home – researching, designing our sale flyers or only require brief time commitment. Other tasks involve working with others year round.

We can use your help whatever your skills or level of knowledge of native plants. In fact volunteering provides opportunities to learn more about the plants and meet other RIWPS members. There are many tasks and we need more people to share the load. Please email and join an active group of volunteers who work hard to organize these sales. We have already started work on next year’s sale events so contact us to become part of the plant sales group.

2018 is a great year for RIWPS Spring native plant sales!

Our Early Sale in May was held at a new location – Casey Farm in Saunderstown. We were welcomed by the Coastal Growers Farmer’s Market and it was a good collaboration. Seed Starters West sold 90% of the plants they had brought to the sale and earned gross sales of nearly $10,000 – far exceeding last year’s gross sales! Our June sale was held at East Farm in Kingston. Great weather, many volunteers and so many plants! Again we surpassed last year’s gross sales! 

Together the May and June sales sent over 4,500 plants into Rhode Island and surrounging communities. People are looking to be good stewards of the landscape by adding more native plants and our sales are the best place to find a great selection of native flowers, shrubs, trees, ferns, and grasses and at reasonable prices. Our goal is to put as many native plants into the area for our native wildlife. Biodiverse, sustainable landscapes sustain life across the natural web. We include plants for all growing conditions so customers can find a plants suitable for their specific location.

 We offered over 200 different species this year. A few were new to the sale this year – Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry), Asclepias purpurascens (purple milkweed), Rubus odoratus (flowering raspberry), Cirsium discolor (field thistle). As all were well received we will continue to offer them next year. Our Seeds Starters are also working on cultivating additional species for next year.

We are now planning an additional plant sale to be held at the Pawtuxet Village Farmer’s Market in Cranston on Saturday, August 25. We will be highlighting a nice selection of fall bloomers – asters, goldenrods, hibiscus, milkweeds and some shrubs. Great plants to help out our native pollinators as other species are ending their bloom time.

 The foundation of our success is our great volunteers. The members of Seed Starters East work year round in Portsmouth, members of Seed Starters West work several months during late winter and through spring in Exeter and our many member propagators (Dick & Marty Fisher, Carolyn Curtis, John Wilson) – all raising plants to donate to our sales. ‘Thank You’ doesn’t seem enough for all you do. We also have many volunteers who help out at the sales or help transport plants or donate plants which they dig from their yards. Our volunteers are dedicated and generous giving of their time and talents. Their efforts have so far earned nearly $44,000 in gross sales. Proceeds underwrite the work of our Seed Starters as they learn the art and science of cultivating native plants, as well support our botanizing walks, lectures and other educational programs, our outreach through our website, monthy e-news and print publication, WildforaRI, and our annual grants.

 But we always need more volunteers – more people who will help share the many tasks involved in preparing for the sales. You have talent that can support our sales – computer skills, artistic talent, organizational and research interests – all play a part in putting together our great plant sales. Email to become part of an amazing group of people.


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.

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