Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category

Plants: Inside Out! Docent Training

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Plants: Inside Out! Docent Training

On Thursday, Discovery Field Trips welcomed docents for Plants: Inside Out! its new middle school program. Thirteen volunteers participated, five of which were part of a partnership with UAB professor Dr. Julie Price, a member at Birmingham Botanical Gardens and a past Junior Board president. Dr. Price is teaching a semester long environmental science class, and part of their course requirement is to volunteer 20 hours with a local environmental organization. 

This Thursday, four of these volunteers will have their first outing with Arlington School of Birmingham.

2014 Urban Forestry Fair

Friday, February 21st, 2014

2014 Urban Forestry Fair

The Urban Forestry Fair was held this week at Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham. Staff and volunteers from Birmingham Botanical Gardens were on hand to teach students about the life cycle of trees, specifically oak trees. Two activities, “Tree Cookies” and “Freedom Oaks,” were led.

“Tree cookies” teaches students about determining the age of a fell or living tree by counting the annual rings. Each student received a small hardwood cookie to decorate as a name tag. The students then planted a germinated White Oak seedling collected in October from a local community. They discussed the life cycle of an oak tree.
The students participating were 4th and 5th grade students from Birmingham City Schools.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as part of a community-wide day of service, a volunteer workday was held at The Gardens on January 20. Participants engaged in a variety of tasks in a couple areas of The Gardens. Over 55 volunteers, adults and teens, came out from organizations like BBVA Compass, Youth Serve of Birmingham and Hands on Birmingham.

Wenonah High School students spend their day of service in the Kaul Wildflower Garden

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Wenonah High School students spend their day of service in the Kaul Wildflower Garden

A group of 35 Juniors from Wenonah High School spent time in the Kaul Wildflower Garden on Thursday. Today was their service day project. The focus of today was to learn more about one of the tourist venues in Birmingham.
They spent the morning spreading bark mulch along the Kaul Wildflower Garden trails, as well as learning about the plants, history and ecology that make this natural area for The Gardens.

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

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.

The Gardens plants trees in North Smithfield

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The Gardens plants trees in North Smithfield

On Veteran’s Day, The Gardens continued longterm reforestation efforts across Birmingham with a tree planting in North Smithfield. These efforts have largely focuses on areas devastated by the storms of April 27, 2011.

North Smithfield is an often overlooked, storm-damaged area because it is an unincorporated neighborhood. Because they are unincorporated it’s been hard for them to recover. They came together to rebuild their fire station and and now maintain a volunteer station. They also rebuilt their neighborhood park so that the kids would have somewhere to play. The restored park, which is where the community holds a majority of its events, didn’t have shade trees. So the neighborhood along with The Storm Water Management department of Jefferson county, Hana Burwinkle, approached Birmingham Botanical Gardens to donate trees to help rebuild and shade the park. The neighborhood consists of mostly military veterans so the trees were planted on Veteran’s Day. The park and the main road next to it are in the process of being changed to reflect the veterans of the neighborhood.

The Gardens donated 60 trees for the park, 100 trees for homeowners to plant in their yards and 1 ceremonial tree that was placed near their welcome sign. It was a collaboration between the Storm Water Management Department, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, The Alabama Forestry Commission, The North Smithfield neighborhood committee, Veterans who live in North Smithfield and the volunteer firefighters.

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.

2013 Fall Plant Sale: Get to Know the Native Ornamental Grasses

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Get to Know the Native Ornamental Grasses

guest blogger: Betsy Fleenor

Landscaping with ornamental grasses is a popular trend. They offer nesting sites and cover for wildlife, excellent erosion control, unusual texture, and four-season interest.

 A darker side to this trend is the growing realization that the grasses that are the easiest to purchase are rarely native and can be harmfully invasive. This would include pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), maiden grass (Miscanthus spp.), ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea), and fountain grass (Pennisetum spp.).  Maiden grass and fountain grass have made it to the top of some state’s invasive plant lists. 

The alternative is to use native grasses which serve the same function in the landscape, are less invasive and extremely drought resistant. 

Please note that natives grasses, like all plants, need to be sited and used correctly: River oats (Chasmathium latifolium) are well behaved in the shade with average to dry soil. But give it moisture, enriched soil and a bit of sun and it will soon spread beyond its bounds. In a few years Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) can seed around. 

For the last couple of years, the Native Plant booth has featured a variety of native grasses at the Fall Sale. Since they are often hard to find, our offering serves as a sampler to introduce them to you. Though our quantities are small, if customers are interested in a large planting of native grasses, we can put them in touch with sources that can readily supply them.

This year we will have the following grasses at our booth:

Andropogon ternarius – Splitbeard Bluestem

Chasmanthium latifolium – River Oats

Chasmanthium sessiliflorum – Longleaf Wood Oats

Eragrostis elliottii – Elliot’s Lovegrass

Muhlenbergia capillaris – Muhly Grass

Panicum virgatum – Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ – Shenandoah Switchgrass

Schizachyrium scoparium – Little Bluestem

Sorghastrum elliottii – Weeping Indian Grass

Sporobolus junceus  – Pineywoods Dropseed 

All are in limited quantities so we hope you will shop for them as early in the sale as possible.

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.