Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

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.

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.

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/

American Garden Award voting continues

Friday, June 21st, 2013

American Garden Award voting is ongoing at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is one of thirty-one prestigious public gardens participating in the nation’s only flower popularity contest. The American Garden Award is a unique opportunity for the public to view, choose and vote on a specific flower that they think has the most appealing garden characteristics. Each of the four “contestants” listed below is now planted in our garden and voting began on June 1.

There are three ways to vote: 
1) By texting a given code to a polling number
2) By clicking the voting button above
3) By using postage-paid voting postcards located at the garden

The four entries are: 
Impatiens SunPatiens® Compact Electric Orange
Petunia Surfinia® Summer Double™ Pink
Verbena Lanai® Candy Cane
Zinnia Zahara™ Cherry

Voting remains open until August 31 and winners are announced in September. In the meantime, these flowers, as well as some of the past American Garden Award winners are available at your garden center. Ask for them by name! The 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 winners can be viewed at www.americangardenaward.com

Follow American Garden Award on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the voting results! 
www.facebook.com/americangardenaward or @AmerGardenAward

The American Garden Award program is administered by the All-America Selections® Display Garden program. AGA entries have not been trialed nor awarded a winner status by the AAS® Trial Judges.

For further details about the award itself, please contact:
Diane Blazek
American Garden Award
dblazek@aas-ngb.org

Japanese Consul General Kazuo Sunaga visits Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Japanese Consul General Kazuo Sunaga visits Birmingham Botanical Gardens

On Friday, June 14, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Japan America Society of Alabama welcomed Japanese Consul General Kazuo Sunaga to the Japanese Gardens at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Sunaga joined JASA board members including  volunteer at The Gardens, Bob Wendorf, and Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Director of Development Olivia Alison for a tour of The Gardens, notably, the Japanese Gardens. The visit was the first to Birmingham for Sunaga and his wife, who also visited the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in the historic Carver Theatre and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

While at The Gardens, the group also visited the Hulsey Woods and rang the Friendship Bell, donated by the Osaka Central Rotary Club of Japan as part of the club’s efforts to promote world peace, friendship, and understanding. The offer was made during the 100th anniversary of Rotary International in 2005, a year in which Shades Valley’s Glenn Estess served as international president of the organization.

Birmingham’s Butterfly Education and Awareness Day

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Birmingham’s Butterfly Education and Awareness Day

This past Saturday, Birmingham Botanical Gardens hosted the inaugral Birmingham Butterfly Education and Awareness Day. Among the organizations participating in the event were the Birmingham Zoo, McWane Science Center, Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve and native landscape expert Arnie Rutkis. Over 200 people enjoyed the day learning about butterfly species native to Alabama, native host plants that are essential to butterflies, and the release of over 40 native butterflies to Alabama.
 
The Gardens plans on this unique partnership becoming an annual event; we hope to see you next June!

Sara Askew Jones dedication held on Tuesday

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

[L to R: John Jones, Fred Spicer, Robert Martin, John Floyd]

Sara Askew Jones dedication held on Tuesday

On Tuesday, June 4, the recently completed Sara Askew Jones Arbor was dedicated at the entrance of the Hess Camellia Garden at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Named for the longtime Healthy Living Editor at Southern Living, the arbor was installed by Robinson Iron Inc. and volunteer John Jones. It was made possible through a generous donation by the Jones family, friends and former co-workers at Southern Living, the Lucille S. Beeson Charitable Trust, Rebar Express and Ready Mix U.S.A. The arbor was also made possible with in-kind service from the City of Birmingham. It was designed by former Southern Living Architecture Editor Robert Martin. 

Martin, a 1992 graduate from Auburn University’s School of Architecture, began his career as a field architectural draftsman for the Historic American Engineering Record before becoming the Architecture Editor for Southern Living. Along with two other Southern Living alums, he created an online business, www.getmorecurbappeal.com, in 2010 where he serves as the Head Residential Designer. A native of Hartselle, Martin now resides in Birmingham.

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.