Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Garden docents learn about plant families and taxonomy

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Garden docents learn about plant families and taxonomy

On Tuesday morning, garden docents participated in a presentation on plant families and taxonomy. Gardens of study were Dunn Formal Rose, McReynolds and Southern Living Gardens. Melanie Johns, Birmingham Botanical Gardens plant taxonomist, enlightened our docents about some of the changes in taxonomy regarding some species found in The Gardens.

Gardeners, horticulturists and plant nurseries are mainly affected by taxonomic name changes which occur as a result of advances in botanical knowledge leading to a reclassification of plants. The great majority of cases happen when a plant is transferred from one higher taxon to another, e.g. a species to another genus, due to the reassessment of its position in a particular classification.

The only thing consistent in the plant world is change. Today the majority of botanists and taxonomists are working towards an objectively argued classification system. Many existing classification schemes are somewhat artificial because they reflect the viewpoints of individual taxonomists, rather than attempting to show the patterns in the way plants actually have evloved or how they are related to one another.

The adoption of such an improved system would benefit not only the plant breeder, but also all those looking for plant products and sources of beneficial characteristics, which may be found in closely related species. Name changes will therefore be inevitable as taxonomist move in this direct. A consensus of views should be encourage in order to find which names would be most widely accepted by the botanical community.

Bibb County Glades

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Bibb County Glades

guest post by intern Ian Hazelhoff

On June 1, I was fortunate to attend the annual Bibb County Glades field trip for the Certificate in Native Plant Studies program.  Fred Spicer and John Manion led the charge on a spectacularly overcast day prime for botanizing.  Several other enthusiastic individuals, ranging from Master Gardeners to The Gardens’ Director of Library Services, Hope Long, filled in the ranks of our troop.  Insect repellant was applied, wide-brimmed hats adjusted, and introductions were shared.  In total, the fieldtrip itinerary listed three glade sites and concluded with a tour of the Cahaba River’s largest lily site.  Ambitious and driven by a unanimous desire to see some of the nation’s rarest plant species in habitats as unique as separate planets, we entered the glades.

To comprehend fully how this beautiful suite of rare plants can exist in such obscurity takes an understanding of this unique landscape.  The Bibb County Glades sit perched on small veins of a rock named Ketona dolomite, which possess higher concentrations of magnesium than more regionally common formations of limestone. Species that thrive in magnesium rich soils are prevalent.  The glades are also an “ecotone” region, where full forest environments gradually transition to more open, grassy areas.  Nestled within this gradient are species specialized to thrive with exposure to more light and wind.  Without a complete tree canopy, the glades represent an assemblage of highly specialized succession species existing in near total isolation. 

In areas with Ketona dolomite based substrate, magnesium and often aluminum levels are so high as to be toxic to many more common species found in the region.  As a historical note, Fred Spicer pointed out that seams of Ketona dolomite were once found scattered throughout Jefferson County, AL, however, these were the first to be mined during Birmingham’s steel boom.  Dolomitic limestone is a precursor material for steel production, and to think that it also supports the livelihood of some of the rarest plants on Earth!  With visions of steel furnaces and open pit mines at the helm, I quickly became aware of the true importance and special nature of the Bibb County Glades. 

As the fieldtrip came to a close, I found myself traveling the winding waterside road to see one of my home state’s secret treasures: Cahaba lilies blooming in their prime.  Pockets of lilies, with proud green stalks and exuberant white flowers, dotted the river’s center.  John Manion was quick to point out that the heaviness of the lily’s seed allows it to sink and become lodged between rocks on the river’s bed.  Cool water, sand, and fields of aquatic botanical wonder - not bad for a day at the office.

To learn more about the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series, and to register for any of its core classes, electives or field trips online, visit www.bbgardens.org/plantstudies.

Photos: Beth Maynor Young

Native Ferns and Their Relatives

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Dan Jones brings “Native Ferns and Their Relatives” to the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series

Do you have an interest in ferns, yet find learning about them daunting? Would you like a to gain an understanding of where they fall in the world of plants, how to distinguish one from another, which ones are native and how to use them in your landscape? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then THIS this is the class for you! Dan “The Fern Man” Jones, Ph.D. and his wife Karen are two of the principle players in the ongoing development of The Gardens’ Fern Glade – one of the most comprehensive collections of its type in the country. Dan is a wonderful instructor that this will be the third time we have invited him to teach this class!

The class will be held on Saturday, July 13, 8:30 – 12:30 p.m. To learn more about this and everything that the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series has to offer, and to register online, visit www.bbgardens.org/plantstudies.

Arrington Plant Adventure Zone provides perfect venue for toasting The Gardens’ new community partner

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Left to Right: Leigh Hargrove CGC, Deanna Cummings CGC, Henry Hughes, education director Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Doug Shaddix CGC, Fred Spicer, executive director Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Ian Hazelhoff, Shades Valley Rotary Club Intern

Arrington Plant Adventure Zone provides perfect venue for toasting The Gardens’ new community partner

On Monday evening, staff from the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Education Department along with board members from the Community Garden Coalition for Birmingham toasted the signing  of our partnership agreement.
The Community Garden Coalition for Birmingham’s mission is to support the community garden movement in Birmingham, Ala. As our new community partner, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is thrilled to support this agreement with CGC that supports our mission to have a greater impact through educational programming in the Birmingham Metropolitan area. 
Monday’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding gives us the ability to create educational opportunities that are mutually beneficial and leverage resources to meet both organization’s strategic goals and  missions.
 
If you are interested in learning more about the Community Garden Coalition for Birmingham, please check them out at  https://sites.google.com/site/cgcbham/

“Southern Summer Chefs” share their recipes

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Children’s Summer Camps: Southern Summer Chefs

On June 17 – 21, Southern Summer Chefs was held at Birmingham Botanical Gardens as part of the Children’s Summer Camps series. The students were kind enough to share their recipes!

To learn more about Children’s Summer Camps, visit www.bbgardens.org/summercamps.

Miss Nancy’s Summer Squash Muffins
 
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups shredded summer squash
 
Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gradually add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold in shredded squash. Spoon the mixture into muffin tin cups, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted can be removed clean (45 minutes for loaf pans).
Miss Jo’s Pesto
  
3 paced cups fresh basil
leaves- no stems
3-4 large cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese
1/2 cup toasted nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground pepper (optional)
1/2 cup packed fresh parsely (optional)
Can add additional cheese/nuts to taste.
 
Directions
Puree everything together in a blender or food processor until it is a uniform paste. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar. It can be frozen. Spoon pesto into lightly greased ice cube trays to freeze. Then, put cubes in ziploc freezer bag. 2-3 cubes make a serving. Makes 8 servings.
Fruit/Vegetable “Sushi”
 
Vegetables:
carrots, red/yellow peppers, cucumber, celery cherry tomatoes, etc (washed and sliced thin).
 
Fruits:
strawberries, blueberries, bananas, apples, pears (washed and sliced thin).
 
Base:
low fat cream cheese
pesto
sweet or savory yogurt dips
peanut butter
nutella
honey (preferably local)
small flour tortillas
 
Directions
Place a small tortilla on a plate. Spread with favorite base (cream cheese, peanut butter, Nutella, or yogurt). Place fruit OR veggies in center of tortilla. If fruit, drizzle with honey. Roll up and slice. SUSHI. :)
Dirt Dessert
 
Instant chocolate pudding
3 oreo cookies per serving
gummy worms
small ziploc bag
 
Directions
Place pudding in clear cup. Remove vanilla from Oreo cookies- use your own technique! Drop cookies into baggie, seal, and smash into “dirt” crumbles. Sprinkle on top of pudding. Tuck in some gummy worms. Yum!
Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam
 
This is a refrigerator am and not intended to be sealed and stored in the pantry. It will keep in the refrigerator for a month. Great on toast, ice cream and milkshakes. Makes 5 pints.
 
Ingredients
4 cups chopped, crushed strawberries
3/4 cup water
1 (1 and 3/4 oz. pkg.) unflavored fruit pectin
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
 
Directions
In large bowl, crush strawberries with a potato masher.
Stir in sugar.
Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring ocassionally.
In small saucepan combine pectin and water. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and pour into berry mixture.
Add lemon juice and stir for 3 minutes until mixture is dissolved and smooth.
Ladle into clean ars.
Let cool and eat. Yum!

Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church visits Bruno Vegetable Garden

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church visits Bruno Vegetable Garden

Over 100 children from Camp Shiloh visited The Gardens on Friday to learn more about growing vegetables. Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in partnership with Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Christian Service Mission and Jefferson County Master Gardeners Association have constructed raised bed gardens at the church to grow vegetables as part of their community outreach program. As part of their summer mission, the kids from Camp Shiloh visited The Gardens to learn more about vegetables and how they grow by visiting the Bruno Vegetable garden. Birmingham Botanical Gardens volunteers and Jefferson County Master Gardeners Karen Mitchell, Natalie Lee and Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele hosted the campers for a hands-on lesson about growing vegetables and herbs. Campers also used our Meet The Gardens Treasure Map to investigate other gardens during their visit.

Fresh Air Family presents Gross Out Camps

Monday, June 24th, 2013

What’s gross this week? Carnivorous plants at Gross Out Camp!

No two words better describe the bond between carnivorous plants and the insects they attract and then devour. For centuries, these plants have attracted not only the attention of their prey, but also of humans fascinated by the concept of flora feasting on fauna. In the 1800s, Naturalist Charles Darwin conducted experiments on several species, stimulating them with raw meat, drops of milk and bits of hard-boiled eggs.

Insects that wander onto the lips of these cavities topple in, sliding down slippery inner walls into pools of liquid that drown the creatures. Digestion then begins. It’s an elegant death trap, as Gross Out campers discovered when they dissected the pitchers open.

Campers participated in the dissection of Sarracenia leucophylla and Sarracenia rubra var.  to more about the characteristics of these carnivorous plants.

To learn more about the remaining Gross Out Camps for 2013, visit http://www.bbgardens.org/other-events.php.

Get Into The Gardens!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Get Into The Gardens!

Get Into The Gardens, The Gardens FREE weekend programming series, returned this weekend with two demonstrations. The first was led by Deanna Cummings and Leigh Ann Hargrove from the Community Garden Coaltion. They taught how to grow food in a small space using the square foot garden method; how to grow 100% of the harvest in 20% of the space in ideal soil conditions with no tilling and significantly reduced water and weeding requirements.

The second was Easy Container Gardening: Simple Watering Strategies. More weekend programming will be announced soon and can be found at www.bbgardens.org/weekends.

New interns join The Gardens for the Summer of 2013

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

New interns join The Gardens for the Summer of 2013

Three new interns join The Gardens for the summer of 2013: Caroline Rowan, Ian Hazelhoff and Reid Pearlman. The group joined Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion on Tuesday for some work in The Gardens, and The Gardens Blog had its first opportunity for introductions.

Caroline Rowan (above) is entering her Junior year at Birmingham-Southern College and is a graduate of Mountain Brook High School. She is majoring in Biology with a minor in Urban Environmental Studies and Psychology. After graduation she plans on perusing a career in field biology. Caroline’s passion for nature and learning makes Birmingham Botanical Gardens a great environment for her summer internship. She credits The Gardens as one of the first places to spark her interest in the natural world. Caroline has grown up with The Gardens as a part of her life and is excited to now be working here. As she experiences life at The Gardens she hopes to uncover more of her interests and pursuits. Caroline will be focusing on the George Ward Park replanting project and will be evaluating the reforested area. She will also be exploring other aspects of the Gardens. Her internship is a 10-week program funded by Little Garden Club and Red Mountain Garden Club.

Ian Hazelhoff (above) is the 2013 Shades Valley Rotary Club intern at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. As a recent graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, he is eager to implement ideas in the landscape of Birmingham. A Birmingham native, he attended The Altamont School.  During his time at Sewanee,  he studied plant physiology, water policy, ecology and forestry. Forest dynamics and ecology training have led him to fascination with how natural systems interact with the urban landscape. He believes that effective landscape design and use brings the inherant value of the land to the forefront. He believes that sound environments and green space can increase economic value of their surroundings while providing ecosystem services for communities.  He hopes to be progressive in his approach to design in projects this summer.  
Reid Pearlman has been interested in plants since he was a child. He enjoys spending time outdoors, especially if he is fishing, hiking or botanizing. Reid will be entering his senior year at Vestavia Hills High School this fall. Reid plans to attend college and graduate school and work in the field of botany or medicine.  

Mothers Day at The Gardens with Get Into The Gardens and the Birmingham Rose Society

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Mothers Day at The Gardens with Get Into The Gardens and the Birmingham Rose Society

Su Reid-St. John, Birmingham Botanical Gardens volunteer and Jefferson County Master Gardener, led a group in the Mother’s Day Herb Pot Demonstration. The two ornamental pots for the demonstration were donated by Leaf & Petal at The Gardens. 
On Saturday, May 18, the Get Into The Gardens demonstration at 1 p.m. will be “Easy Container Gardening: Building a Pollinators’ Paradise.” 

Robert Eskew from the Birmingham Rose Society, and a Garden Docent, led a large group around the Dunn and Old Fashion Rose Gardens as a part of the Mother’s Day Get Into The Gardens program, and the annual Birmingham Rose Show.