Monday, September 19, 2016
by Gretchen Zuiderveen
The September meeting of the River City Wild Ones was held at Prairie Wolf Park, a forty-five acre, passive-use park in Gaines Township.
Mike Bruggink, past president of the RCWO, led a large group of River City Wild Ones and guests, on a tour of the prairie at Prairie Wolf Park. Mike explained the process of returning the former farm fields to prairie, at the rate of an acre a year. He showed us the acre that is being readied for planting this fall, and led the way to a part of the prairie that was planted five years ago. There, he pointed out various prairie plants, including Maximillian sunflower, showy goldenrod, gray-headed coneflower, and prairie penstemon, and told us that countless pollinators make use of this prairie, including hummingbirds. Other beneficiaries of the landscape are birds like bobolinks and meadowlarks, which are seldom seen elsewhere. He then invited us to walk into the prairie for a closer look at plants and insects, and to harvest some ripe seeds for our personal use or for re-seeding the next acre of prairie at this park.
After about thirty minutes of delightful mingling among the native plants, and with paper bags of collected seeds in hand, the group gathered to learn more about seed collecting. Another past president, Amy Heilman, and long-time member, Chris Baer, had a variety of seed heads on hand that illustrated the variety of sizes and types of seeds; they explained how to clean some seeds and how to scarify some seeds that are difficult to germinate. A seed-collecting hand-out was distributed, as well.
The weather for this event could not have been more pleasant, the presenters were terrific, but the mosquitoes should not have been invited!