Friends of natural landscaping plan plant swapping event

A Kalamazoo area group dedicated to educating people on the benefits of landscaping with native plants will be doing that in an upcoming event timed for spring planting season.

The Kalamazoo Chapter of the Wild Ones will host its 19th annual Spring Plant Exchange from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at 2502 Waite Ave. Those attending will have a chance to learn more about the importance of native plants and to trade plants with others.

The plants are not for sale, and it is not necessary to bring a plant in order to take one. The group does ask, however, that those attending take only one plant if the plant that is being exchanged is limited in number.

Tom Small, whose home is the location for the exchange, says he and his wife worked for many years growing the plants that will be offered for exchange. For 15 years, they taught the principles of growing native plants to various school groups, religious and civic organizations and others. Nancy Small, a local environmental advocate and former Western Michigan University faculty member, died in 2009.

At the exchange there will be many plants from the Smalls' gardens, as well as plants brought by other Wild Ones members. All plants should be carefully potted and identified with labels.

Those attending the exchange should bring only plants native to Michigan. Non-native, especially invasive plants can create imbalances that are destructive to natural landscapes. The group says they threaten the existence of native plants and the insects and other life forms that depend on them.  

Landscaping with local plants helps preserve local bees, insects, birds, and mammals, and other wildlife. They all have evolved together and depend on local plants for food and shelter.

Several members of Wild Ones will be available throughout the afternoon to answer questions, to help people set out the plants they bring, and to choose appropriate plants to take to grow at home.

The local Wild Ones Chapter has about 150 members and typically meets the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Writer: Kathy Jennings
Source: Tom Small, Kalamazoo Wild Ones