Posts Tagged ‘Bob Wendorf’

Japanese Consul General Kazuo Sunaga visits Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Japanese Consul General Kazuo Sunaga visits Birmingham Botanical Gardens

On Friday, June 14, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Japan America Society of Alabama welcomed Japanese Consul General Kazuo Sunaga to the Japanese Gardens at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Sunaga joined JASA board members including  volunteer at The Gardens, Bob Wendorf, and Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Director of Development Olivia Alison for a tour of The Gardens, notably, the Japanese Gardens. The visit was the first to Birmingham for Sunaga and his wife, who also visited the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in the historic Carver Theatre and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

While at The Gardens, the group also visited the Hulsey Woods and rang the Friendship Bell, donated by the Osaka Central Rotary Club of Japan as part of the club’s efforts to promote world peace, friendship, and understanding. The offer was made during the 100th anniversary of Rotary International in 2005, a year in which Shades Valley’s Glenn Estess served as international president of the organization.

Pruning for Effect: Japanese Maples

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The doctors are in! Our three doctors are on call to guide you through the process of pruning Japanese maple trees. Join their clinic as they deliver an instructional journey through timing and technique. You’ll learn what tools to use and what gardening aesthetics are involved in producing a good specimen tree.

Don’t miss your opportunity to take advantage of this unique educational opportunity, led by John Floyd, Mike Rushing and Bob Wendorf.

Monday, February 20 | 10 – 12 p.m.
Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
$10 Members | $12 Non-Members

Click here to register today!

Voluteer Spotlight: Reid Pearlman

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Reid Pearlman is a sophomore at Vestavia Hills High School. He volunteers in the Japanese Gardens with John Floyd, Mike Rushing and Bob Wendorf. Reid is one of the many young people that choose to take advantage of unique educational opportunities at The Gardens, while helping maintain its beauty. Above, he is front and center, surrounded by the three doctors and the crew that helps maintain the Japanese Gardens.

How did you become interested in working with the Bonsai group?  Volunteering in the Japanese Gardens? I have never seen anything like the Japanese Gardens before. I found it unique and interesting.

What do you think makes a person a good volunteer? Being hardworking and willing to learn.

How or why did you become interested in cultivating Bonsai trees? Dr. Bob Wendorf introduced me to Bonsai. Since then, they have fascinated me.

Where do you see yourself volunteering with the Japanese Gardens and the Bonsai Group? Are you interested in working with any other plant group or society? I see myself trying to help make The Gardens the best that they can be.

Do you feel it is important for your generation to volunteer? Why? Yes. We want to give something back to the great country that has been so generous to us.

What are your academic and/or career goals once you graduate high school? I plan on attending college and then graduate school. I have many interests including botany, ichthyology and zoology.

What attracts you to working/ volunteering at Birmingham Botanical Gardens? The thing that I find most attractive about The Gardens is interacting with all of the knowledgeable people

Do you volunteer with any other organization? Not at this time.

What is important to you as a volunteer at The Gardens? What do you see as the result of your volunteering? As a volunteer, I have been able to learn a great deal about plants, both local and foreign. I have been privileged to be educated by some of the most knowledgeable people in the field of botany.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your experience working and volunteering at The Gardens? I am looking forward to doing it more in the future.

The Three Docs

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

(Pictured, L to R): Dr. John Floyd, Gary Bailey, Reid Pearlman, Mike Rushing, Bob Wendorf

Dr. John Floyd served as editor of Southern Living for 18 years. Today, he greets visitors to the Japanese Gardens as its anonymous, volunteer tour guide.

“How are you doing today?” he asks the parents.

“What did you come to see? The turtles?” he asks the children.

He sweats alongside two other doctors of eclectic practice – Dr. Bob Wendorf and Dr. Mike Rushing – the former, a psychologist and president of the Japanese Garden Society of Alabama (recently published in Alabama Heritage), the latter, a veterinarian who served the USDA. Each Tuesday, the three doctors groom one of The Gardens’ most recognizable, and one of the largest of its kind. Alone. These are “The Three Docs.”

“It’s an enormous garden,” said Wendorf. “Bigger than most in Japan.”

“Portland is the largest in the U.S. and they have 40 gardeners on staff,” said Rushing. “We have zero.”

Still, the three manage to maintain the beauty by practicing the art of “concealing and revealing” – creating lines of sight and allowing visitors to see glimpses of the Japanese Gardens most unique features (like the Japanese Tea House), while not offering complete views – a defining characteristic of Japanese Gardens worldwide.

“(Before we began work in the Japanese Gardens) there were places here you couldn’t tell was a garden,” said Wendorf. “Now you can tell its a garden.”

The three doctors have not spent an eternity together, despite creating a bond that feels that way. “It feels like ten years,” said Rushing. “But I think it’s been ten months.”

The lack of attention the Japanese Gardens received brought them. “Needs!” said Floyd, asked why this group chose this garden. “I was in the Kaul Wildflower Garden until they hired someone full time. I began working on another garden for a while, but then I saw that this one was in bad shape.”

“It was the squeakiest hinge,” said Rushing of the Japanese Gardens need for attention. “So they won’t let me leave. They know all of my embarassing information and I wouldn’t want them putting it on the Internet.”

Maintenance can be daunting. The garden’s grand scale can be difficult to manage for just three men. Still, they have managed to manicure one of the finest of its kind, despite its acreage far outnumbering its caregivers. Typically, similar gardens have at least one gardener per acre.

“In this garden, the problem isn’t grooming the thing we planted,” said Rushing. “It’s the plants that volunteered to be a part of our scheme.”

“Every rock that was put here was put here for a reason,” said Wendorf, uncovering a large rock no longer visible because of its surrounding growth.

Each have carved their own contribution. “Inspiration, education and perspiration,” said Rushing, of what brought these minds together. “And you can guess who’s who. You can learn a lot from these guys. They’re encyclopedias in sundry things.”

But it’s not all work. “We have to laugh,” said Floyd. “It’s good for our souls. They can always hear me laugh, so they always know I’m coming.”

Most visitors can’t detect imperfections. But the three doctors’ marriage to these gardens won’t allow them the same enjoyment.

“We can’t see progress,” said Rushing. “Our trained eye just sees weeds and weeds and weeds. The public just sees a nice garden.”

An education awaits. On this day, these three inconspicuous men are shaping the mind of Vestavia Hills sophomore Reid Pearlman. He can’t yet drive, but his effort to tend this garden affords him a collegiate education from men with doctorates from Illinois (Wendorf), Clemson (Floyd) and Texas A&M (Rushing).

“The Gardens is also an integral part in helping us do what we’ve done here,” said Floyd, crediting men like Nick Majors and Gary Bailey for their work in maintaining and clearing the doctors’ weedy mess.

The Three Doctors need your help. Volunteers of all ages are encouraged to join these unique men, absorbing their knowledge and enjoying their humor. The group currently gathers in the Japanese Gardens on Monday mornings. For more information on how you can offer your services, contact Mary-Bestor Grant at 205.414.3962 or mgrant@bbgardens.org.