Wildflower Rescue Reaches 25th Anniversary of Saving Leelanau Wildflowers - The Leelanau Conservancy

Wildflower Rescue Reaches 25th Anniversary of Saving Leelanau Wildflowers

Celebrating 25 years of blooming success, the Leelanau Conservancy’s Wildflower Rescue Committee continues its important work.

Since 1999, Wildflower Rescue has been on a mission to protect our native blooms from the bulldozer’s path, especially the woodland wonders we’ve come to know and love within local forests. With dirt under their nails and passion in their hearts, the committee saves native plants and spreads the word about why they’re so important. Following Michigan law, they meticulously transplant various wildflower species to ensure their survival.

Wildflower Rescuers potting rescued plants at Swanson Preserve for the annual Memorial Day Weekend sale. Photo by Beth Chiles.

The Wildflower Rescue Committee works alongside property owners, builders, and anyone else willing to lend a hand. And it’s not just about saving plants; it’s about finding them new homes where they can continue to thrive. Local spaces like The Old Settlers Park in Glen Arbor, The Leland Children’s Center, The Old Art Building in Leland, Munson Hospice House in Traverse City, and The Leland Village Green have given rescued flowers new homes, brightening up our neighborhoods and community.

You, too, can provide a new home for rescued wildflowers. The crew pots up their finds for an annual Memorial Day Weekend Wildflower Sale, raising funds to keep our green spaces thriving. Want to join the squad? Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, there’s a place for you. Get in touch, and let’s keep the wildflowers blooming! Sign up here or contact Lindy Kellogg at [email protected] to join or suggest dig sites.

Local trillium rescued from destruction

Dig Sites

Do you have a spot in mind where native wildflowers might need a hero? The Wildflower Rescue Committee wants to hear from you! Whether it’s a backyard about to become a construction site or a patch of woods slated for development, the crew is ready to swoop in and save the day. Send us your tips, and together, we can ensure native wildflowers continue to thrive. Every suggestion counts, so don’t hesitate—reach out today and help us preserve the beauty of Leelanau! Email Lindy Kellogg at [email protected] or fill out the form here.

Wildflower Rescue at Work

By Tim Bugenske

The Wildflower Rescue Committee Chair was approached with a unique opportunity to divide two huge Yellow Lady’s Slipper (cypripedium parviflorum) clumps.

This pair had been flourishing in Suttons Bay for over a decade as near-bed centerpieces, but they had outgrown their area. Since both clumps were in full bloom, it was decided to delay division until fall dormancy.

In September, volunteers divided the larger Lady Slipper clump. Mimicking an archeological dig, the mulch and topsoil cover was removed to expose the root mass. With the almost three-foot diameter root ball defined, an encircling trench was dug, allowing shovels and gentle hands to dislodge the clump en masse carefully. Three large multi-node sections with copious rooting were separated and replanted onsite after refreshing the area with a coir/compost/vermiculite blend. The remainder was graciously donated to the Conservancy. Three volunteers experienced in cypripedium division were onsite. This was the first time anyone had worked on such a large, root-bound specimen.

Typically, a gentle twisting motion will easily divide a Cypripedium clump. However, this method proved impracticable, given that this specimen resembled a tree burl more than a hardy native orchid. The remainder was transported to a volunteer’s residence equipped with a potting table. The clump was cut in half, allowing four pairs of hands to continue what became a tedious, hour-long surgical process.

Our volunteers’ efforts will be on full display at the 2024 Wildflower Rescue Sale. Though some divisions will require an additional year of TLC, specimens of various sizes and prices will be offered for sale. See photos of the process here.

For those whose grounds are too dry to support a hardy native orchid, a limited number of the largest divisions have been potted in 2.5-gallon containers that also serve as an artificial water table. Planting and care instructions for this method are included. An informational packet on growing this Cypripedium is also available. Email [email protected] if you are interested in adding this “Bragging Rights” Leelanau Native to your grounds.