Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

2013 Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

Friday, December 6th, 2013

2013 Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

On Thursday, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens launched a yearlong celebration of its 50th Anniversary at its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Honored at the luncheon were (L to R):

A. Brand Walton, Jr. Unsung Hero Volunteer of the Year: Natalie Lee

Ida C. Burns Volunteer of the Year: Mike Rushing

Plantspeople of the Year: Alicia and Ken Hall

Educator of the Year: Carol Hagood

Our Volunteer Partner of the Year was awarded to the Native Plant Group, pictured below (L to R): Ann Katholi, Janice Williams, Sally Price, Peggy Thompson, Mary Phillips, Gail Snyder, Jan Holliday, Linda Nolan and Anne Parrish.

Executive Director & CEO Fred Spicer, Former Mayor Bernard Kincaid, Councilor Kim Rafferty, Administrative Assistant to the Mayor Charles Long and former Gardens Director Gary Gerlach

Mary Alice and Bill Thurman

Linda and Archie Blackmon

Verna Gates and Carol Ogle

Peggy Thompson and Mary Phillips

Amanda Clark and Margaret Bish

Membership Assistant Rona Walters, Education Activities Specialist Dawn Coleman, Education Coordinator Ellen Hardy

Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion and Mike Rushing

Conservatory cake created by Pastry Arts

Entertainment provided by Sue Nuckols

Discovery Field Trips launches first program for middle school students

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Discovery Field Trips launches first program for middle school students

In November, Birmingham Botanical Gardens welcomed Highlands School sixth graders and students from Bessemer’s gifted program to become the first middle schools to participate in the first Discovery Field Trip designed for middle school students. Over the last decade, Discovery Field Trips have offered free, science-based programming for almost 100,000 kindergarten-sixth grade students. 

Plants: Inside Out paves a pathway for students to discover photosynthesis through three hands-on science labs. Labs include making slides from leaves to view stomata with field microscopes, using technology to measure carbon dioxide, and discovering why leaves change color. Post field trip, they can use their new discoveries to design their own ideas for renewable energy, similar to scientists in the real world. 

A student from Highlands said, “Out of all my experiences, I’ve learned the most in this field trip. I really had a great time.” Highlands Science Teacher Sam Kindervater said, “Great intro or wrap-up for a plant unit.” The “hands-on components and outside activities” were what they enjoyed most. Bessemer Gifted Teacher Daphne Shade stated, “The labs were very informational and interesting. The students really enjoyed the experience.” 

Plants: Inside Out will get into full swing this spring. Docents are needed, and teachers are invited to begin signing up their classes now free of transportation costs. For more information on scheduling your class for a field trip, contact Education Coordinator Ellen Hardy at 205.414.3953 or ehardy@bbgardens.org. For more information on volunteering for the program, contact Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele at 205.414.3962 or tsteele@bbgardens.org.

Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens takes its first look at Conservatory renovations

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Executive Director & CEO Fred Spicer leads Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Conservatory tour

As the Conservatory renovations near completion at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Executive Director & CEO Fred Spicer led staff members on their first tour of the Birmingham landmark since renovations began earlier this year. The interior looked much different on Friday than it did earlier in 2013, and we captured a few photos to share until it is opened to the public.

Parker High School students take part in work training program at The Gardens

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Parker High School students take part in work training program at The Gardens

These three young men are from Parker High School, and participate in the Birmingham City Schools Community-Based Work Training Program. On Tuesday, they planted cool season greens in straw bales as part of a interpretive gardening exhibit outside The Library at The Gardens. Each week they will work on various gardening task to learn more about public gardens, landscaping and horiticulture as a possible career choice.

Holiday Wreaths

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Holiday Wreaths

On Friday, Casey Thomas led a class at The Gardens in the creation of holiday wreaths. Students learned how to with a little mesh, wire hangers and a few ornaments. Check out the photos!

Students from Arlingon School spend time in the Bruno Vegetable Garden

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Students from Arlingon School spend time in the Bruno Vegetable Garden

Gardener Amanda Clark taught Arlington School students about high density planting or companion planting today. The students helped planting in the Bruno Vegetable Garden.

Native plant preview hosted on Wednesday

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Executive Director Fred Spicer and Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion lead native plant preview

On Wednesday, Executive Director Fred Spicer and Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion led plant enthusiasts on a native plant preview through the lath houses at The Gardens. Fall Plant Sale customers were treated to an opportunity to see many of the things that will be available for purchase at this weekend’s sale.

Fall Plant Sale is the second largest plant sale of the year at The Gardens. This Saturday and Sunday, Blount Plaza will host an array of natives, annuals, perrienials, vegetables, trees, shrubs, herbs, irises, daylilies, ferns, camellias and more. Saturday, the sale will open to the public from 9 – 5 p.m. and on Sunday, from noon – 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Proceeds from plant sales at The Gardens benefit its educational programs including the flagship, Discovery Field Trips. Over the last decade, Discovery Field Trips has provided a free, curriculum-based science education to nearly 100,000 Birmingham schoolchildren.

For more information about Fall Plant Sale, including a partial list of inventory available, visit www.bbgardens.org/fallplantsale.

Fall Gardening with Straw Bales: Innovative Way to Grow Your Fall Garden Plants

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Fall Gardening with Straw Bales: Innovative Way to Grow Your Fall Garden Plants

Last Saturday, Master Gardener Su Reid-St. John and her daughter Zoie demonstrated the fun and innovative way to grow your fall vegetables. Straw bale gardening is a fun and productive way to grow your greens that will have you the talk of the neighborhood (in good fashion of course).

Straw bale gardening has a number of benefits and a few restrictions. Straw bales provide a convenient method to raise the grade of your growing area and reduce the loss of plants to excessive water due to wet areas and/or poor soil. Straw bales also provide a near disease free growing media for your plants if you have difficulty with soil borne diseases. In addition, straw bales are also great for limited spaces in your landscape.

The downside to straw hay bale gardening is the constant need to monitor your plants for moisture content. If you plan a holiday more than a few days, you will need someone to water your plants. With such a large exposed surface area, straw bales will dry out quickly as weather warms and precipitation decreases. You will also need to anchor the bales well or stake
tall growing plants as they grow to prevent them from falling over.

Straw bale gardening is an interesting experiment and worth the investment for those who have difficulty growing in wet areas, poor soils or lack of natural space. However, proper preparation and routine watering is essential for success

Check out Su Ried’s video demonstration from Bonnie Plant http://bonnieplants.com/library/how-to-condition-and-plant-a-straw-bale/

Please join us on Saturday, November 9th for another Get into The Gardens Innovative Gardening demonstration. Check the website and follow us on Facebook for more information.

A Weed Worth Extra Effort

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

A Weed Worth Extra Effort

guest blogger: Betsy Fleenor, Native Plant Group

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose) is one of the most important butterfly plants you can have in your garden. Not only do their bright orange flowers attract a wide variety of butterflies, but milkweeds are the only host plants for the Monarch butterfly. Upon hatching, Monarch caterpillars must eat the leaves of milkweed plants or starve to death.

Milkweeds used to be abundant in fields and along roadsides. But the increasing loss of their habitat – coupled with herbicide spraying along roadsides, has caused numbers to decline just when Monarchs are really struggling.
According to Monarch Watch*, the three lowest overwintering populations of Eastern Monarchs on record have been recorded in the last 10 years.

How can we help? By planting milkweeds in our yards. Their presence gives the remaining Monarchs a chance to successfully complete their life cycle while brightening and beautifying our gardens. 
 

This is where the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Native Plant Group comes into play. As the volunteer group growing the native plants offered at the plant sales, this is a plant we need to feature. We always have some to sell, but only in limited numbers. This is because butterfly milkweed loves summer.
 

At the April sale, the plants haven’t emerged from the ground. In order to hurry them along they must be forced in the greenhouse. But we have had limited success with this method.  To get them looking good in April is quite problematic. Milkweeds don’t like to be rushed. They also have a tendency to rot over the winter when in pots.

No problem – we’ll sell them at the fall sale. Unfortunately, by October, the plants are likely to already be dying back for the winter. This means that some years they have dropped all of their leaves by sale time. It is hard to sell a pot of dirt with a bare stick in it. Other times the leaves they do have are beginning to yellow which makes them look unattractive or diseased to many plant sale shoppers.

Knowing the plants were too important not to get their due, the Natives Group came up a daring idea last spring. Milkweed is in its glory in the summer, the hotter the better. So we bought 400 starter plants in May and nurtured them through the summer. At the end of July, we put out the word.
We offered them to a relatively small group of Birmingham Botanical Gardens volunteers to gauge their interest. Plants were to be ordered ahead of time. Would this trial balloon fly?

Within just two days our 400 plants were snapped up and many more had to be told we had sold out. Running out of plants is a happy problem, but for the sake of the Monarchs, we wish we would have had enough for everyone interested.
 

As we talked to those who ordered the plants, our local butterfly experts and Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens staff, we were struck by how much people care about the plight of butterflies and how eager they are to do what they can to help. We have also realized anew that butterfly weed can be quite hard to find at local nurseries and when present, it is often in small quantities.
 

Based on this year’s extremely successful sale, we will plan to repeat the summer butterfly milkweed sale next year, with hopes to have an even larger number of plants available to an even larger target group.

*Monarch Watch – http://www.monarchwatch.org/

To learn more about this year’s Fall Plant Sale, visit www.bbgardens.org/fallplantsale. Proceeds from all plant sales at The Gardens benefits its educational mission, including Discovery Field Trips, which has provided free, science-based programming to Birmingham city schoolchildren for over a decade.

Southern Summer Chefs

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Children’s Summer Camps: Southern Summer Chefs

Southern Summer Chefs at The Gardens, part of our Children’s Summer Camps, planted chives, mint, parsley and rosemary, to name a few, in kitchen gardens to take home so they can continue to enjoy cooking using fresh ingredients as they have discovered at The Gardens!