Jan. 15 Wild Ones program: Turning a city lot into a wild place

Staff Report

Wild Ones will hold its first program of 2015 at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 15, when Mary Anne and Bruce Mathwich will entertain with their adventures converting their city lot on the Rock River in Rockton into a “Wild Place.” The event will be at Rock Valley College Woodward Technology Center, 3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford.

How do two parsimonious, do-it-yourself people who know little about gardening convert their yard into a natural landscape? Long-time Wild Ones members Mary Anne and Bruce Mathwich have done it twice, and both agree it has been one of the coolest things they’ve done. The first landscape was at their home in Cherry Valley, and they have a whole slide presentation to prove it.

They’ve moved on to the digital age, however, so now you’ll see the experience of converting a 1950’s Rockton home landscape with the debut of a PowerPoint presentation. See a magnificent privacy screen of vines on the side of their yard, seed collecting tips, stump wrestling, diminutive wildlife, before and after pictures, and much more.

At last count, there were 160 species of native plants in the landscape, including trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, forbs, sedges and grasses. Several of the plants have been collected during “Plant Rescues” — an activity where Wild Ones members are given permission by owners to dig up plants in places that are scheduled to be developed into buildings and shopping centers. The rescue plants are planted by “group” — named for each place from which they were rescued.

There is still room for more plants, so the project continues on. In her spare time, Mary Anne helps with Wild Ones “Show Me, Help Me” days. These events are scheduled throughout the year, where Wild Ones members offer to show their yards … some to show what they’ve accomplished, and others to ask for help with beginning projects. For newer members, these are really good opportunities to see how to get started, and how to overcome various problems.

Both Mary Anne and Bruce worked in manufacturing before starting second careers in environmental/science education and natural area management, respectively. Now both retired, they are rearing Rocky the puppy and trying to keep him from eating mulch and interesting berries.

Arrive at the Jan. 15 meeting early to browse the Wild Ones library, display booth, merchandise table and refreshments. Learn more at www.wildsonesrrvc.org.

From the Jan. 7-13, 2015, issue

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