Native Plants Group celebrates Larry Michalove’s birthday
Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category
Bush Hills Academy visits The Gardens
Recently, 2nd grade students from Bush Hills Academy in Birmingham visited The Gardens to take part in the Garden Gates Discovery Field Trip and Treasure Map activity outdoors. Docent Alana Maxey of Junior League of Birmingham’s “Can You Dig It?” led the students, along with Education Program Coordinator Ellen Hardy.
Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens joins Urban Forestry and Conservation Fair at Boutwell Auditorium
On Wednesday, February 13, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens staff members and volunteers joined the Urban Forestry and Conservation Fair at Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Ala. to help educate Birmingham schoolchildren about how the urban environments they are familiar with connect to the environments they often hear about – rain forests, state and national parks, the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve and more. The day long fair showed children they can grow up to work in an environmental arena in any setting.
Rite of Spring
By: Betsy Fleenor, volunteer
It happens every spring. The new year dawns, and the new seeds are sown. Always with this goal: grow plants that will be large enough and interesting enough to catch your eye at the spring plant sale. No tender seedlings will do come April. We are looking for robust, healthy plants with a good root system, lots of leaves and we wouldn’t argue about a flower bud or two.
For the volunteers who work with the volunteer propagation groups at The Gardens, work goes on year round preparing the plants for your buying pleasure. But things really start to heat up once the new year arrives. For those growing native plants, it’s time to delve into the rich storehouse of seeds collected from the Kaul Wildflower Garden and pre-treated in various ways. Some are sprinkled, others carefully placed in their soil-filled trays topped with a thin layer of granite chicken grit to improve their chances.
Weeks spent on the mist tables located in the plant sale greenhouse eventually provide the perfect environment for the green miracle. The lifeless, brown seeds are touched with the vital moisture, warmth and light that cause them to germinate.
At first the specks of green are nearly microscopic. Was that a dot of green I saw or not? Soon eyes adjust to the microenvironment and indeed, that dot was just one of hundreds of barely perceptible green dots. They’re off and running!
As the weeks wear on, first leaves give way to true leaves, and roots start to explore the soil. Soon it’s time to rudely tease them from their seed trays into their first individual pots. Volunteers carefully prick out the most tender, pull apart the more robust, and take them to the next step on their journey from seed to sale.
(L to R: Director of Library Services Hope Long, Cathy Adams, Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele)
Volunteers honored at annual Birmingham Botanical Gardens luncheon
On Thursday, December 13, Birmingham Botanical Gardens held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, recognizing the time donated by those that assist in the achievement of The Gardens’ educational mission. Cathy Adams was presented the Ida C. Burns Volunteer of the Year award for her continual service in many areas of the organization and her significant impact on The Gardens. Ann Katholi was awarded the A. Brand Walton, Jr. Unsung Hero of the Year for her independent and “behind the scenes” contributions. Birmingham Audubon Society was recognized as the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Partner of the Year for helping The Gardens to multiply its effort and achieve its mission. Betsy Fleenor was awarded the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Plantperson of the Year for sharing her plant knowledge and skills with other individuals who volunteer. Sallie Lee was awarded Educator of the Year for her educational efforts promoting public knowledge and appreciation of plants, gardens and the environment.
The potluck luncheon was held in Strange Auditorium from 11:30 – 1 p.m. Music was provided by the Crestwood Trio.
(L to R: Betsy Fleenor, Ann Katholi, Sallie Lee, Ty Keith, Helena Uber-Wamble (Keith and Uber-Wamble are with Birmingham Audubon Society))
Birmingham Botanical Gardens Joins Reforestation Effort at George Ward Park
On Saturday, October 27, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens staff members joined the Glen Iris Neighborhood Association and volunteers from Impact Alabama in an effort to replant George Ward Park. Over time, many of the trees in the park have vanished due to mowing. With the support of Little Garden Club and Red Mountain Garden Club, this five-year project continued on Saturday.
Glade Hopping in Bibb County
by: Hunter McBrayer
I recently had the opportunity to botanize at the Bibb County Glades in Bibb County, Alabama, with a small group of plant enthusiasts from The Gardens. We rendezvoused with Tom Diggs, a doctoral student at The University of Alabama at Birmingham studying evolutionary biology. Tom’s research is on the unique array of plants growing at The Glades and the reasons so many of them are endemic to the area.
The Bibb County Glades are truly a remarkable anomaly in the Alabama landscape. Largely ignored by humans until 1992, the glades were considered a treeless barren by most people of that region until Jim Allison, a botanist from Georgia, explored the area. He noticed that several familiar looking plants, upon closer inspection, were unknown species. He continued exploring the area and eventually discovered eight new species of plants; a rare occurrence in today’s world of plant exploration.
Many factors contribute to the fact that the area holds so many endemic plants, but most scientists agree that the primary reason for such a high degree of endemism is the unique substrate on which they grow. Ketona limestone, a very specific type of dolomitic limestone, is the primary geological formation underlying The Glades’ very thin soil; the type of limestone contains very high levels of magnesium. In addition to the preceding factor, arid climate has contributed to the unique evolution of plants that thrive there. One third of Alabama’s twenty-four endemic plant species are found growing at The Glades, which collectively comprise approximately 250 acres.
Although some of these plants were already past flowering, we still had the opportunity to view several of them in flower. This list includes Coreopsis grandiflora var. inclinata, reclining large-flowered tickseed; Dalea cahaba, Cahaba prairie clover; Croton alabamensis var. alabamensis, Alabama croton (a somewhat ubiquitous plants The Gardens); and Spigelia alabamensis (syn. Spigelia gentianoides var. alabamensis, gentian pinkroot. We were also able to examine a population of a new species in the genus Trautvetteria, tassel-rue, which as of yet has not been assigned a name; at present, it is being referred to as Trautvetteria species 1.
Due to the unique character of this area and its rare flora, conservation is of upmost importance. To that end, The Nature Conservancy has acquired 480 acres and named it the Kathy Stiles Freeland Bibb County Glades Preserve. The Preserve is located along a very picturesque section of the Little Cahaba River and makes a delightful day trip; when there take time to appreciate Alabama’s unique natural heritage.
Spigillia gentianoides var. alabamensis
Croton alabamensis, Alabama croton
Trautvetteria species 1
Janice Williams Helps Native Plant Group Ready for Spring Plant Sale
Janice Williams began volunteering at The Gardens in, approximately, 1986. “I went on strolls through The Gardens with (old friends) Rebecca and LouAnn,” said Williams. “I told them I wanted to work there, too, and they invited me to join them on a Wednesday at the potting shed. I’ve been working there ever since.”
Williams eased her way into The Gardens when Bobbie Kaul invited her and her friend Pat to dig some flowers out of Kaul’s yard and plant them in the wildflower garden. It was during this time she had spent time working in the wildflower garden with Pat, Weesie and Ann.
Since, Williams has missed just one plant sale, one that fell when she was out of the country. She spends her time today with the Native Plant Group, hard at work on April’s Spring Plant Sale.
If you would like to learn more about this year’s Spring Plant Sale, and all of the special events that coincide, we encourage you to visit www.bbgardens.org/springplantsale. To learn more about how you can volunteer at The Gardens, visit www.bbgardens.org/volunteer.