Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Andrea Wulf and Ben Page headline 2013 Spencer Lecture Series

Friday, March 8th, 2013

(Andrea Wulf, Director of Devlopment Olivia Alison, Spencer Lecture committee member Sue Ellen Lucas)

Andrea Wulf and Ben Page headline 2013 Spencer Lecture Series

The 2013 Spencer Lecture Series was held in the Linn-Henley Lecture Hall at Birmingham Botanical Gardens on March 7. New York Times best-selling author Andrea Wulf spoke at 10:30, while renowned architect Ben Page spoke at 6:30 p.m. The morning lecture, preceded by a book signing, saw 137 guests in attendance, while 214 attended the evening session.

(Murray Spencer South, Ben Page, Nancy Spencer Smith)

Building an outdoor classroom

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Teachers gather at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to discuss building an outdoor classroom

On Friday, February 23, teachers from across Central Alabama gathered in the East Room of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Garden Center to discuss ways to build an outdoor classroom. The workshop, a partnership between Alabama Wildlife Federation, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, was led by Doyle Keasal of ACES, April Lupardus Waltz of AWF and Jennifer Sanders and Taylor Steele of Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Urban Forestry and Conservation Fair

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

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.

Conservatory Renovation Project

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Conservatory at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to undergo $1.4 million renovation project

In 2013, one of Birmingham’s most iconic sights will undergo a $1.4 million renovation project, allowing the Conservatory at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to open to the public for the first time since April of 2011. Originally opened in December of 1963 and designed by the now defunct Lord & Burnham firm, the building has become a rare piece of architecture as many similar structures across the nation have since been razed. Though safety concerns about the building’s glass ceiling forced its closure, the structure remains sturdy and especially worthy of preservation as one of the last of its kind.

This project, Phase I of a series envisioned in The Gardens’ master plan, will begin in earnest in May, after the season’s final frost. This phase will include stripping the old glass and cleaning the structure, upgrading base electrical distribution and automating ventilation sashes, repairing interior partition walls and replacing doors, remediating asbestos and lead, re-glazing with safety glass, restoring the original entrance appearance and installing an internal mylar shade blanket and insulation system. Its completion will allow the Conservatory to open for public use for the first time in two years. September is the targeted date for completion, in time for the new school year’s return of Discovery Field Trips, The Gardens’ award-winning, curriculum-based educational programs which have provided a free science education to nearly 100,000 Birmingham children over the last decade. Phase I does not include new exhibits, and some old exhibits have been removed from the Conservatory in order to facilitate the project.

The Pennington Group, Inc. has been awarded the project. Based in Birmingham, The Pennington Group, Inc. is a commercial contractor offering a full range of construction services, registered and licensed in the state of Alabama. The Pennington Group, Inc. has developed a firm foundation for commercial construction and is often selected as the contractor for interior renovation, rebuilding, demolition and build-out projects. The City of Birmingham funded $115,000 for the design and engineering performed by Montgomery Smith, Inc. in 2012; principle Jim Smith has been retained for construction administration Phase I. The City also supplied in-kind services to shepherd this project through the design and bidding process.

The $1.4 million Conservatory Improvement Project, Phase I, was made possible through the generous donations of: The Lucille S. Beeson Charitable Trust, The Brooke Family Foundation, City of Birmingham, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Lyndra and Bill Daniel, The Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Lorol Roden Bowron Rediker Rucker Foundation and two anonymous donors. Additional funding was provided by The Butrus Family Advised Fund at Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and The Holly Oak Garden Club.

This project is just Phase I of a lengthy plan to maximize the potential of The Gardens’ Conservatory. While it will conclude with the facility being open for Discovery Field Trips, long-term plans envision an even brighter future:

Phase II: addition of indoor exhibits

Phase III: addition of horticulture office and maintenance building

Phase IV: addition of conservatory buildings, concert stage and conservatory terraces

Phase V: addition of new potting shed and production greenhouses

Phase VI: addition of activities building and public restrooms, Persian Garden, expanded Bruno Vegetable Garden, Herb Terrace and Carver crops

We’re eager to see one of the Magic City’s landmarks evolve over the coming years! Come see us grow at Birmingham Botanical Gardens!

48th Annual Member Celebration

Friday, January 25th, 2013

(Emily Bowron, Bill Bowron, Frieda Murfee, Frances Wheelock, George Wheelock)

48th Annual Member Celebration

On Thursday, January 24, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens held its 48th Annual Member Celebration at the Garden Center. More than 150 members and staff gathered in Strange Auditorium for drinks and hors d’oeuvres catered by Savoie Catering. The festivities moved to the Linn-Henley Lecture Hall for the evening’s featured speaker, Kerry Smith. Smith, the State Master Gardener Coordinator for Alabama Cooperative Extension System (A.C.E.S.) led a talk titled “Your A.C.E.S. in the Hole,” a discussion about the unique relationship between Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Alabama Cooperative Extension System, which houses a satellite office at the Garden Center. 

Martha Espy, Fred Spicer, Peggy Bonfield, Orrin Ford, Valerie Abbott

Annette Drummonds, Pat Cosgrove, Bethany O’Rear, Joann Wissinger

Tricia Noble, Alleen Cater, Chris Boles

Orrin Ford, Peggy Bonfield

Coquette Barnes, Tommy Amason, Yates Amason, Bill Barnes

Alpha Goings, Betsy Gresham, Louise Walton

Fletcher Harvey, Roger Clarke, Susan Jackson, Kerry Smith

Nina Miranda, Anita Dark, Bonnie McDonald

Mary Williamson, Lex Williamson

Jeanie Sherlock, Scott Walton, Kelley Walton

Katy Eldridge, Jamey Eldridge

Janet Taylor, Jerry Taylor


Friday, January 18th, 2013

Spencer Lecture – Ben Page: Traditions and Transitions – Thursday, March 7 | 6:30 p.m.

Ben Page comes to Birmingham Botanical Gardens for an intriguing talk titled “Traditions and Transitions.” This beautifully illustrated talk weaves together some historical threads (going back as far as ancient Rome) as well as some history of Belle Meade (area of Nashville where Cheekwood is located).Page will share the influence of landscape architect Bryant Fleming and his personal approach to garden design. He’ll offer a modern relevance and provide context through work he has done on Birmingham-area gardens.
The founding partner in the Nashville-based firm Page/Duke, Ben received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree with honors from the University of Georgia in 1973. A recipient of a 2009 Aurora Award (a design competition for the Southeast Building Conference) and the 2002 Metro Nashville Historical Commission’s Preservation Award, he is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Southern Garden History Society.

Largely influenced by their childhood experiences in — and love for — the countryside, Page/Duke has expanded the firm’s focus to include equine-management facilities, hunting-plantation management and master planning for environmentally based communities. The goal for every project, whether an expansive public space or an intimate secret garden, is to create a seamless integration of the built environment and its surroundings.

Page/Duke’s impressive national clientele spans the Southeast, the Atlantic Seaboard and Texas. The firm’s work has appeared in numerous magazines such as Veranda, House Beautiful, Traditional Home and Architectural 
Digest, and its projects have been featured on HGTV’s “Secret Gardens.”

Kerry Smith – Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Kerry Smith – Alabama Cooperative Extension System

On January 24, Birmingham Botanical Gardens welcomes Kerry Smith as the featured speaker at the 48th Annual Member Celebration.

Kerry Smith is the Home Grounds team Co-leader in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  Working with County and Regional Extension personnel she develops, supports and delivers programs that inspire smart yards for home landscapes.  Kerry is also the State Program Coordinator for the Alabama Master Gardener Program, a large volunteer group assisting the same mission of promoting sustainable, smart yard landscapes. 

Most recently Kerry was an Interpretive Horticulturist with the Education Department at Callaway Gardens.  She has also been a school teacher, an estate gardener, and many things in between.  

A native of north Florida, she earned a Master of Science in Ornamental Horticulture from Auburn University with a minor in Urban Forestry.  She inherited a love of flowers from her mother’s daylilies and an appreciation of the earth from her father’s vegetable rows.  Her family now includes Chris, her husband and avid plant rescuer, and a 19 lb. menace named Scooby. 

 To learn more about the Annual Member Celebration, visit There, you can also reserve your seats online.

Inaugural Dirt Dash 5K Fun Run/Walk

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Inaugural Dirt Dash 5K Fun Run/Walk

Junior Board of Birmingham Botanical Gardens presented the inaugural Dirt Dash 5K Fun Run/Walk on November 17. Over 200 runners and walkers competed in various age groups, utilizing the paths and trails of Alabama’s largest living museum. The overall winner Julien Bousquet, who completed the run in 17:48.7. For a complete list of winners in each age group, visit

2012 Fall Donor Event

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

(Carolyn and Henry Ray)

2013 Fall Donor Event

On November 1, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens held its annual Fall DonorAppreciation Event at the Swann House owned by Daniel and Brooke Coleman. Nearly 100donors gathered for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the Magic City landmark. Among guests in attendance were Robert and Holly de Buys, Margi Ingram, Lyle Hohnke, Zachary Westall, Brad White, Diana Slaughter, Philip Morris, Barbara Sauer, Scott and Kelley Walton, William and Carolyn Satterfield, Thomas and Cathy Adams, Frances Blount, Tom and Elizabeth Broughton, Barbara Burton, Mike and Paula Rushing, Gene and Chris Boles, June Mays and Charles and Cheryl Mayer. A toast was raised to outgoing board president Henry Ray, while the group welcomed Tricia Noble into the position for 2013 and 2014.

(Alleen Cater, Lyle Hohnke)

(Bill and Carolyn Satterfield)

(Brad White and Barbara Saurer)

(Brooke and Daniel Coleman)

(Charles and Cheryl Mayer)

(Diana Slaughter, Brooke Coleman, Renee Blalock)

(Frances Blount, Dorothy Taloe, Margi Ingram)

(Gene and Chris Boles)

(Henry Ray, Margi Ingram)

(Holly and Bob de Buys)

(Leo and Jackie Shaia, Phillip Morris)

(Lou Willie and Cindy Comford)

(Natalie Lee, Joy Kloess)

(Kelley and Scott Walton)

(Zack Westall Tiffany and Cliff Campbell Andrew Urbain)

Volunteers honored at annual Birmingham Botanical Gardens luncheon

Monday, December 17th, 2012


(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))