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 email@example.com. For more information on volunteering for the program, contact Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele at 205.414.3962 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Craig Fravert, Jane Hinds, Cindy Fravert]
Fall Donor Event
On Thursday, November 21, the annual Fall Donor Event was held at the home of Bill and Emily Bowron. Over 60 supporters of Birmingham Botanical Gardens enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
[Harold Bissel, Mena Brock, John Brock]
[Tricia and Jim Holbrook]
[Holly DeBuys, Bob DeBuys, Michael Balliet, Peggy Balliet]
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.
Parker High School students take part in work training program at The Gardens
These three young men are from Parker High School, and participate in the Birmingham City Schools Community-Based Work Training Program. On Tuesday, they planted cool season greens in straw bales as part of a interpretive gardening exhibit outside The Library at The Gardens. Each week they will work on various gardening task to learn more about public gardens, landscaping and horiticulture as a possible career choice.
On Friday, Casey Thomas led a class at The Gardens in the creation of holiday wreaths. Students learned how to with a little mesh, wire hangers and a few ornaments. Check out the photos!
Community Garden Coalition presents Birmingham Bike Tour
by Gail Harper Yeilding, Community Garden Coalition for Birmingham
On October 26, the Community Garden Coalition in partnership with Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Alabama Bike Coalition collaborated to celebrate National Food Day by a bike tour of Birmingham’s Community Gardens.
Armed with dahlia decorated helmets and bikes, CGC members made their way through the streets of Birmingham. Starting and ending at Freshfully, the tour included MPower Community Garden, South Avondale Community Garden, Jones Valley Teaching Garden, Norwood Orchard and Norwood Teaching Gardens. At each stop, a representative farmer from each garden gave a tour and various treats including: dahlias, cider, basil and Lenell’s now famous rosemary bourbon cider.
With a crisp, Fall morning, it was the perfect way to see just some of the many community gardens popping up in Birmingham.
Many thanks to all who participated as well as each community garden that contributed a little something from their garden.
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
Gardener Amanda Clark taught Arlington School students about high density planting or companion planting today. The students helped planting in the Bruno Vegetable Garden.
Executive Director Fred Spicer and Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion lead native plant preview
On Wednesday, Executive Director Fred Spicer and Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion led plant enthusiasts on a native plant preview through the lath houses at The Gardens. Fall Plant Sale customers were treated to an opportunity to see many of the things that will be available for purchase at this weekend’s sale.
Fall Plant Sale is the second largest plant sale of the year at The Gardens. This Saturday and Sunday, Blount Plaza will host an array of natives, annuals, perrienials, vegetables, trees, shrubs, herbs, irises, daylilies, ferns, camellias and more. Saturday, the sale will open to the public from 9 – 5 p.m. and on Sunday, from noon – 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Proceeds from plant sales at The Gardens benefit its educational programs including the flagship, Discovery Field Trips. Over the last decade, Discovery Field Trips has provided a free, curriculum-based science education to nearly 100,000 Birmingham schoolchildren.
For more information about Fall Plant Sale, including a partial list of inventory available, visit www.bbgardens.org/fallplantsale.
Fall Gardening with Straw Bales: Innovative Way to Grow Your Fall Garden Plants
Last Saturday, Master Gardener Su Reid-St. John and her daughter Zoie demonstrated the fun and innovative way to grow your fall vegetables. Straw bale gardening is a fun and productive way to grow your greens that will have you the talk of the neighborhood (in good fashion of course).
Straw bale gardening has a number of benefits and a few restrictions. Straw bales provide a convenient method to raise the grade of your growing area and reduce the loss of plants to excessive water due to wet areas and/or poor soil. Straw bales also provide a near disease free growing media for your plants if you have difficulty with soil borne diseases. In addition, straw bales are also great for limited spaces in your landscape.
The downside to straw hay bale gardening is the constant need to monitor your plants for moisture content. If you plan a holiday more than a few days, you will need someone to water your plants. With such a large exposed surface area, straw bales will dry out quickly as weather warms and precipitation decreases. You will also need to anchor the bales well or stake
tall growing plants as they grow to prevent them from falling over.
Straw bale gardening is an interesting experiment and worth the investment for those who have difficulty growing in wet areas, poor soils or lack of natural space. However, proper preparation and routine watering is essential for success
Check out Su Ried’s video demonstration from Bonnie Plant http://bonnieplants.com/library/how-to-condition-and-plant-a-straw-bale/
Please join us on Saturday, November 9th for another Get into The Gardens Innovative Gardening demonstration. Check the website and follow us on Facebook for more information.