Archive for the ‘News’ Category

2014 Annual Member Celebration

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

[Dr. John Floyd, Birmingham District 2 Councilor Kim Rafferty, Birmingham Botanical Gardens Executive Director & CEO Fred Spicer]

2014 Annual Member Celebration

On Thursday, January 23, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens held its Annual Member Celebration at the Garden Center. Continuing its year-long, 50th anniversary celebration, The Gardens hosted an evening themed as “Looking Back, Growing Forward,” in which it reflected on its rich history and teased a bright future with Executive Director & CEO Fred Spicer.

[Kara Scholl, Shelly Lindstrom, Kristen Murphree]

[Chris Boles (Board Member), Dona Musgrave, Mimi Boston]

[William A. Lalor, Mindy Lalor, Zhaleh McCullers]

[Ed Meadows, Janie Meadows, Andrew J. Noble, Tricia Noble (Past President)]

[Mary Boehm (Board Member), Courtney Pigford, Jay Pigford, Christopher Boehm]

[Charles W. Daniel, Lyndra Daniel]

[Elizabeth Broughton (Board Member), Emily Bowron (Board Member), Leah Hazzard]

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.

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.