Do you want to learn more about incorporating native plants in your garden? Are you curious about the healing properties of native plants? Ever wondered how Native Americans managed wild spaces? Would you like a free source for native seeds, cuttings, and plants? If so, join the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Wildtending walks on the last Tuesday of each month at Verbena Fields. This series of two-hour educational tours focuses on native plants and includes identification of plants in various stages of growth, their importance to native cultures, information on propagation and growing needs, examination of plant communities, interaction with insects, and forestry management. The first in the series was held on February 23;the next one will take place March 30.
DiGenova shared his extensive knowledge of our native flora and highlighted the importance of reseeding and replanting areas destroyed by fire or invaded by non-natives. The co-leaders of the Wildtending Plant Walk combined scientific knowledge with traditional wisdom and the wisdom born from wildfire experience. Redbud, for instance, needs plant companions. Lonely redbuds that have been planted away from others of their species or from other species they evolved with will not thrive and may die. Redbuds need periodic fire (or pruning) to grow the straight, pliable shoots prized by basket makers. Meders-Knight noted that the redbuds they planted along the eastern portion of Verbena Fields were allowed twelve years to mature before they were radically pruned this last winter. New shoots will be harvested for both weaving and propagation.
During the course of the tour, Meders-Knight read out passages on the care and uses of the identified plants from After the First Full Moon in April: A Sourcebook of Herbal Medicine from a California Indian Elder, by Josephine Peters and Beverly Ortiz. She also recommended Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson.
The Plant Walks are free. They are a collaborative effort between the Camp Fire Restoration Project, the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, and California State University, Chico Department of Agriculture. Visit Verbena Fields Wildtending Days for more information. The TEK Wildtending Walks will continue at least through April and will include seed collection methods.
For the monthly Wildtending Walking Tour meet at the entrance to Verbena Fields at 4pm on the last Tuesday of the month (time may change in Summer). So, whether you want a two-hour informative tour of native plants and their uses, or the camaraderie of working with others for the health and beauty of the park, Verbena Fields is your answer.
For the history of Verbena Fields and a more detailed description of what to find there, see “Discovering Verbena Fields in Chico” by Laura Lukes, published in The Real Dirt blog on June 19, 2020. For more information on the Camp Fire Restoration Project, click here. For specific questions about Wildtending Days or Walks, email DiGenova at Raphael@gnogi.com. For more information about the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, visit their website.
UC Master Gardeners of Butte County are part of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) system. To learn more about us and our upcoming events, and for help with gardening in our area, visit our website. If you have a gardening question or problem, email the Hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred) or call (530) 538-7201.