Native Plants Group celebrates Larry Michalove’s birthday
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.
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.
Granite Garden repairs overseen by sculptor Jesus Moroles
Sculptor Jesus Moroles, who created Granite Garden in 1988, was back in town to consult with The Gardens on maintenance and repairs. A severe freeze last winter, coupled with a power failure that knocked out a heater, resulted in a few broken pipes and small cracks in the granite. People may have noticed that water in several of the uprights had not been flowing. With in-kind assistance from City of Birmingham plumbers and Birmingham Botanical Gardens staff, several of the large base stones were removed and several broken pipes were repaired. Moroles is putting together a plan for continued maintenance, and specifications for fixing the cracks, replacing all the copper piping with freeze-resistant polyethylene pipe, and re-setting some of the base stones.
The Gardens houses more than 30 unique works of original outdoor sculpture.
(Funding for Granite Garden was provided by Arnold and Rose Steiner and the National Endowment for the Arts. The consultation is being funded by The Friends.)
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!
(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
Spencer Lecture – Andrea Wulf: Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens – Thursday, March 7 | 10:30 a.m.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens is delighted to welcome Andrea Wulf for the second year, offering a second lecture in the Spencer Lecture Series to complement Ben Page’s talk. This summer an extremely rare celestial event took place – the transit of Venus. In the eighteenth century the transit held the answer for one of the most pressing questions of the age: the size of the solar system. This would require triangulated data to be compiled from various exact points dotted all around the four corners of the globe – all taken simultaneously during the short period of the actual transit. Hundreds of astronomers from European countries and the North American colonies were dispatched across the world to observe the rare celestial encounter. At a time when war was tearing Europe and much of the rest of the world apart, they overcame political, geographical and intellectual boundaries. CHASING VENUS is rich with tales of obsession, featuring Catherine the Great and Captain Cook as well as Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, Benjamin Franklin and American astronomer David Rittenhouse. In CHASING VENUS, New York Times Best Selling and award-winning author Andrea Wulf tells the extraordinary story of the first global scientific collaboration set amid warring armies, hurricanes, scientific endeavour and personal tragedy. It’s a story bursting with action, wonderful detail and scientific excitement, revealing the spirit of the Enlightenment and man’s quest to understand the world.
To reserve your seat online, visit www.bbgardens.org/spencerlecture.