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.
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.
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.
Junior Board presents: From the Garden to the Grill 2013
Angela Schmidt of Chef U shared grilling concepts and drinks with students in the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone on Thursday, August 15. The students prepared Vitello Tonato, chilled veal with a tuna sauce. They also grilled veal burgers and shared cocktails. To learn more about Angela, Chef U and the entire menu, check out this recent feature at AL.com.
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
Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church visits Bruno Vegetable Garden
Over 100 children from Camp Shiloh visited The Gardens on Friday to learn more about growing vegetables. Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in partnership with Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Christian Service Mission and Jefferson County Master Gardeners Association have constructed raised bed gardens at the church to grow vegetables as part of their community outreach program. As part of their summer mission, the kids from Camp Shiloh visited The Gardens to learn more about vegetables and how they grow by visiting the Bruno Vegetable garden. Birmingham Botanical Gardens volunteers and Jefferson County Master Gardeners Karen Mitchell, Natalie Lee and Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele hosted the campers for a hands-on lesson about growing vegetables and herbs. Campers also used our Meet The Gardens Treasure Map to investigate other gardens during their visit.
Birmingham’s Butterfly Education and Awareness Day
[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.