October 11, 2016
Easttown Township Library
At 9:30 on a sunny Tuesday morning, members of the Weeders gathered in a sunlit room at the Easttown Township Library in Berwyn for coffee, tea and tasty Weeder treats that included giant grapes provided by hostesses Jackie Burke, Cheryl Cheston and Cindy Pierce. Cheryl Cheston also served as meeting chair.
Promptly at 10am, President Jackie Burke called the meeting to order. Thirty-two, including the president, attended. Jackie thanked the chair and hostesses. [The speakers made for two more] Announcements followed.
On Monday, October 10th, some Weeders met for coffee at Alice Doering’s to get to know Jeanne May, a friend of Polly Garnett’s and many others, who will soon be proposed for membership.
Carole Haas’ husband Lee died and the Weeders have expressed sympathy and are keeping Carole and the family in their thoughts.
Jackie made a pitch for the PCGCA meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 9th at the Philadelphia Country Club in Gladwyne.
She also noted our club has sort of redeemed itself with a good and generous response to the Fertilizer Fund appeal.
The Zone V meeting will be held October 19th and 20th and the flower show will be open to the public on the 20th from 9:30 to 12:30.
Jackie called on various committees for reports and/or updates. The following committees took the floor.
Marilyn Sprague reported for the group participating in the Rail Trail Park Tour on October 4th. They met behind the Rodin museum and made their way to the Reading Station on a train bed that will eventually cover three miles of urban trail. They climbed over fences, worked their way around rocks and saw the possibilities for green space that creation of this park will bring to the surrounding neighborhoods. Thankfully, just this last week, the organization received notice of approval of a grant request.
Some members signed up for a propagation workshop at Stenton on October 22nd and Jackie will check on the status of the workshop.
Cheryl Cheston reported for Admissions that our newest member, Nancy Holmes, is in Maine where she is diligently memorizing her Weeder handbook.
Program chair Karen Doyle gave a plug for the Christmas sale scheduled for December 6th at St. David’s and Ellyn Spragins followed with notice of a sign-up sheet that was passed around for a Botanical Arts workshop to be held on Wednesday, November 2nd at St. Christopher’s in Gladwyne from 10:30 to 12:30. The speaker is from Princeton and the session will include a talk, demonstration, and hands on experience to assist in making a broche.
Cheryl Cheston made a plea for workers to come and help put Bryn Mawr’s Gazebo Garden to bed. The date is Sunday, November 13th and she promised a “nifty surprise” for those who lend a hand that day.
Polly Garnett reported Strafford Station has survived the drought and looks good, mostly thanks to the efforts of Marilyn Sprague, who talks the Devon Horse Show grounds committee into giving her plants
left over from events held there.
Biddie Edwards has five people signed up for Conservation’s trip on Saturday, October 22nd from 11 to 12:30pm to RAIR on Minor Street in Philadelphia. There’s room for three more. If interested, please contact Biddie and show up at Wendy Calhoun’s in Haverford at 10am for the drive to Philadelphia. Lunch will be available in a local hot spot featuring chefs who earned their stripes at places like the White Dog.
Biddie also announced that she received a most interesting article, from Lloyd Brown, on Bees in North Dakota. The article makes the point that there is an interaction between plants and bees and both are remarkable in adapting to changes in climate and environment – at least in North Dakota.
Michele Bolton reported for Horticulture and offered the challenge plant, Pelargonium ‘Prince Rupert’ for sale at $7 each. She recommended a sunny window and drying between watering. The only Weeder to respond to the request for a seed exchange was Patty Minehart who brought a giant bag of Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) fruits, and was recommended for a gold star for heeding the request.
Lorraine Wallace, who is running the waiting list only succulent pumpkin project, requested assistance in sorting the plants she expects to be delivered Wednesday.
For Scholarship, Regina Wagner offered a review of the GCA’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award of $1,000 to a person fostering science education for youngsters up to age 16. In the past, we put forth applicants who were deemed worthy but, recently, our thinking “outside the box” has borne little fruit. As a club, we have filled the gap.
Minutes of the September meeting were approved as distributed.
The meeting adjourned at 10:28am.
Cheryl Cheston introduced our speakers, Barb Elliot, PhD and Edie Parnum, co-directors of “Backyards for Nature,” which they founded in 2002. A display set up near the coffee area offered more information and lists of native plants for birds and butterflies as well as sources of native plants and a general guide for providing healthy habitats. Edie will make site visits and both speakers urged us to look at the website www.valeyforgeaudubon.org/bfn and the blog www.backyardsfornature.org.
Barb began her presentation with the comment that she was glad to know we have a conservation committee. She went on to make the case for “planting with a purpose” and drew our attention to the “web of life,” the complex of inter-relationships with plants as the foundation and insects as the power house. More diversity in the plant layer means a more diverse web of life. She painted a bleak picture of significant population decline among birds and pollinators, the latter include bees, wasps, beetles, flies, moths and butterflies and the pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat.
Other wildlife families are in decline too, especially bats, which have been decimated by white-nose syndrome. Habitat loss is a reason for wildlife loss and Barb showed a slide of a 2003 study noting that every day 350 acres in Pennsylvania are lost to development. Alarmingly, today’s rate is, no doubt, higher.
Local, native plants are best for powering the web of life. Native insects need native plants because they are very specialized and have adapted to digest specific plants. Non -native insects like stink bugs, Japanese beetles and gypsy moths are not only a nuisance but contribute nothing to the web of life.
When scouting for food, birds look for leaf damage because it’s a sign of caterpillars, a critical food source given that 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars are needed to raise four to six young birds.
Barb made the case for gardening with native plants and Edie stepped to the podium to address the question, “What can we do in our yards?” She noted it is possible to garden for aesthetics with natives and we have choices to make when deciding what to plant. It is more desirable, for example, to plant a native dogwood rather than Cornus kousa. She suggested we add natives a few at a time and make a plan and carry it out in stages.
Edie illustrated this by showing a sequential redo of a half-acre suburban yard that began with a few trees, non -native shrubs, annuals and lots of lawn. She added white oaks because they host many different kinds of caterpillars, eastern red cedar and black cherry because of the berries, and native woody shrubs as an understory. Gradually, most of the lawn was eliminated and beds of native perennials, especially those in the milkweed family, filled the yard, which also included a trellis to support trumpet honeysuckle, and plants insects love like mountain mint. The transformation was dramatic and inspiring.
Maria M. Thompson, Secretary