Posts Tagged ‘Blake Ells’

2015 Member Day Trip

Monday, June 8th, 2015

2015 Member Day Trip

On Thursday, June 4, Members at Birmingham Botanical Gardens visited Stone Hollow Farmstead in Harpersville, Alabama. There, they learned more about the cheeses and skin care products produced at the farm, and they participated in a pickling class, each leaving with their finished product. Members also enjoyed a delicious lunch from The Pantry, based in Crestline Village.

Earth Day at The Gardens 2015

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Earth Day at The Gardens 2015

On May 31, Earth Day at The Gardens was held in the Formal Garden in front of the Conservatory. This year’s event was postponed from April 25 due to the threat of severe weather. But storms wouldn’t stop Alabama’s largest living museum from continuing Alabama’s longest running Earth Day celebration.

This year’s event celebrated World War II-era Victory Gardens. The outdoor celebration was a continuation of the USO Tribute Show that was held on April 22.

Junior Board of Birmingham Botanical Gardens kicks off summer in style

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Junior Board of Birmingham Botanical Gardens kicks off summer in style

On May 19, Junior Board welcomed summer with their “Kick off to Summer” event. Chef Lori Sours taught the class how to prepare a watermelon salsa, a spicy shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs with jalapenos and the evening’s featured cocktail, the Paloma.

Beginning Zentangle comes to The Gardens on May 8

Friday, May 1st, 2015


On Friday, May 8, Darla Williamson brings “Beginning Zentangle” to The Gardens from 5:30-9 p.m. She has offered a guest blog post to The Gardens Blog to talk more about  this unique educational opportunity. To register for “Beginning Zentangle” online, visit


“Honey, I love your mother, but what am I supposed to do with this Zentangle® stuff?”  That is the question I asked my husband when my Zentangle kit arrived in the mail from my mother-in-law in late 2010!  Little did I know how much impact a little box would have on my life!

First of all, what is Zentangle®? 

Zentangle is an easy to learn, fun and relaxing method of creating beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.   Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts created the Zentangle Method about 10 years ago to share the relaxation and focus you feel as you create a Zentangle.    It is a very mindful activity – a great way to relax and be in the moment.  It is liberating – no rulers, no erasers, just a pen, pencil, tile and room to explore.  It is worldwide – there are currently about 1,500 Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs) in 25 countries around the world!  (I was certified in October, 2011.)  It is very now – in Shutterstock’s Creative Trends for 2015 report, they used video clips, music tracks and 47 million images to look at which searches and styles were on the rise to predict creative trends for 2015.  Zentangle was named as one of the Top 5 Design Trends.    

What I love about Zentangle®

There are no mistakes! – Zentangle is not about trying to be perfect or make an exact replica.  There is way more beauty in imperfection anyway!  Zentangle is about being in the moment, enjoying the moment, and the bonus is you have a little piece of art as a result of your time.  I think one of my favorite things about Zentangle is that you can take it and make it what you like.  If we are working on a tangle (pattern) and you are inspired to embellish it your own way – that’s ok.   Creativity - it really opens Pandora’s Box!  Not only for me, but students frequently tell me stories about how Zentangle has helped them realize they are creative and they try lots of new things they never imagined they could do, and people who already work in another art form tell me how it helps them take a fresh approach to their art!  Anyone can do it!  – it really is true – almost anyone can do it.  I’ve taught Zentangle to almost 1,500 people since March 2012, from all walks of life – doctors, lawyers, teachers, housewives (aka domestic goddesses), artists, bee keepers, yoga instructors, fitness experts, nurses, corporate types (from executives to entry level), clowns (seriously!), students, small business owners, in a homeless shelter trying to get their lives back on track, and everything in between, Age 5 to Age 90, recovering from strokes, With OCD, ADD, Autism and Depression.  Relaxation - I get so relaxed doing Zentangle I lose track of time, ask my husband :)  

Walking a new Path

I’ve always been creative and have dabbled in many things – interior design, homemade bath products, wire art, travel tags, and I took a pottery class 20+ years ago that I loved.  When I received the kit in late 2010, I had been in the corporate world over 15 years, in banking 12, and in Birmingham 10 years.  For many years I loved my bank job in distribution planning (figuring out how many branches a market should have, where they should be, managing projects).  I could look for creative solutions to problems, I loved working with people all across the southeast and I loved the sense of accomplishment.  But I had reached a point where the stress level was no longer cyclical, it was pretty much nonstop, and I knew I wanted to do something different, but had no idea what.  So I opened my little box, pulled out the pens and got to work!  I loved it.   I woke up one morning with an overwhelming voice in my head saying “Teach Zentangle!”  It took six months for me to get into a certification class, but in October 2011 I became a Certified Zentangle Teacher and I quit my job on January 31, 2012!  Teaching Zentangle has blessed me in more ways than I ever imagined.  I’ve met wonderful people and I get to share my love of art with them.  I also get to be creative every day – I also do pottery, mixed media, and fiber art!

Spring Donor Tour of the Kaul Wildflower Garden

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Spring Donor Tour of the Kaul Wildflower Garden

On Wednesday, Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion led donors on a tour of his native collection. The group was honored to be joined by trustee and former Board of Directors President Mary Carolyn Cleveland. Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens hopes to host another tour soon, with a date to be announced.

The Gardens welcomes new Louise Agee Wrinkle Native Plant Intern

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The Gardens welcomes new Louise Agee Wrinkle Native Plant Intern

The Gardens is excited to share the news that our second Louise Agee Wrinkle – Native Plant Intern has been chosen by Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion. Her name is Jennifer Davidson and she’s a recent graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her degree in Environmental Decision-Making. The focus of her studies were environmental policy and ecology.

Jennifer says: “In college I studied ecology and environmental policy, but my hobby was always gardening. As an environmentalist, I value all life on earth, but my passion is plants. Thanks to my plant biology class and others like it, I realized that plants were the most fascinating living things on the planet.”  
And: ”When I ponder my dream job, only three things are clear: I want to work outdoors, I want to work with plants, and I need to contribute to the conservation of nature.”
Jennifer has a rich background of work and volunteerism, including being a gardener at Huntsville Botanical Garden and spending time as a volunteer on a cocoa plantation in Ecuador. 
Dr. John Clark, one of Jennifer’s professors said, when speaking of her enrollment in his classes held in Costa Rica and Ecuador, that: “Jennifer acquired skills in plant identification and collections-based research on biodiversity. In particular, Jennifer was outstanding relative to her peers for recognizing plants to family because of her enthusiasm for learning plant morphology and family characters.”
The first day of Jennifer’s internship will be Monday, May 11; John has a very stimulating and meaningful summer planned for her. She, like our intern last year, has applied for a scholarship to attend the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference.

[PHOTOS] Junior Master Gardener

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Junior Master Gardener

Junior Master Gardener returns to Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Saturday, March 21 from 9-noon. “Ecology and Environment” will be the focus of the program’s third session.

Julie Danley leads each class, an international youth gardening program of the university cooperative Extension network. Junior Master Gardener engages children in novel, “hands-on” group and individual learning experiences that provide a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment and cultivate the mind.

Junior Master Gardner also inspires youths to be of service to others through service learning and leadership development projects and rewards them with certification and recognition.

Children can get involved in exploring their world through meaningful activities that encourage leadership development, personal pride and responsibility and community involvement. Youth involved in the program develop critical thinking skills and the ability to identify community concerns and take action to address them through individual group projects.

The program is targeted toward children ages 6-12. Individual sessions are available for $45, while packages can be purchased for $365. To learn more about all of the sessions on the 2015 calendar and to register online, visit

Spring Plant Sale training at The Gardens

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Spring Plant Sale training at The Gardens
Volunteers spent last Tuesday training for Spring Plant Sale. This year’s Sale will be held April 10-12 at Brookwood Village.
Executive Director & CEO Fred Spicer and plant-hawker extraordinaire Mike Rushing offered a number of sensible and easy-to-implement techniques to help us move those mountains of green.
Mark your calendar for this year’s sale! On Friday, April 10, the public sale will be held from 9-7 p.m. On Saturday, April 11, the public sale will be held from 9-5 p.m. And on Sunday, April 12, the public sale will be held from 11-3 p.m. For more information and partial inventory lists as they become available, visit

Woodland in a Jar

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Woodland in a Jar

A great time was had by all during our Woodland in a Jar program at The Gardens on Saturday! Kaul Wildflower Curator John Manion and Plant Adventures Program Specialist Brooke McMinn were joined by nine enthusiastic children, along with three equally eager adults, for an autumn adventure in terrarium building.

John and Brooke began the program by talking with the group about the definition and importance of ecosystems and what makes Alabama’s ecosystems so special. The discussion also included a conversation about scale and how to select appropriate plants and objects for use in a terrarium. We then led the group on a walk through the Barber Alabama Woodlands garden to look at some of the plants we would be using for the terrariums and to collect some additional materials. Finally, we returned with the group to the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone where everyone carefully constructed their own unique terrarium ecosystem. Take a look some of the fabulous mini-versions of Alabama woodlands that participants took home!

Daxko Software Company at The Gardens

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Daxko Software Company at The Gardens

Twenty team members from Daxko Software Company spent last Friday at The Gardens as part of their semi-annual community impact day. The day was spent building a bog, mulching trails, and planting pansies. The cold weather merely amplified the team spirit and determination to complete the tasks!
Thank you Daxko for a job well done!