Posts Tagged ‘Fred Spicer’

Volunteers honored at annual Birmingham Botanical Gardens luncheon

Monday, December 17th, 2012


(L to R: Director of Library Services Hope Long, Cathy Adams, Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele)

Volunteers honored at annual Birmingham Botanical Gardens luncheon

On Thursday, December 13, Birmingham Botanical Gardens held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, recognizing the time donated by those that assist in the achievement of The Gardens’ educational mission. Cathy Adams was presented the Ida C. Burns Volunteer of the Year award for her continual service in many areas of the organization and her significant impact on The Gardens. Ann Katholi was awarded the A. Brand Walton, Jr. Unsung Hero of the Year for her independent and “behind the scenes” contributions. Birmingham Audubon Society was recognized as the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Partner of the Year for helping The Gardens to multiply its effort and achieve its mission. Betsy Fleenor was awarded the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Plantperson of the Year for sharing her plant knowledge and skills with other individuals who volunteer. Sallie Lee was awarded Educator of the Year for her educational efforts promoting public knowledge and appreciation of plants, gardens and the environment.

The potluck luncheon was held in Strange Auditorium from 11:30 – 1 p.m. Music was provided by the Crestwood Trio.

(L to R: Betsy Fleenor, Ann Katholi, Sallie Lee, Ty Keith, Helena Uber-Wamble (Keith and Uber-Wamble are with Birmingham Audubon Society))

“Forever Wild” – What You Need to Know About Amendment 1

Monday, November 5th, 2012

A message from Executive Director Fred Spicer 

My employer, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, is not a political organization. However, with a mission to educate people about plants, gardens and the environment, we feel an obligation to urge you to support Alabama’s Forever Wild program by voting “yes” on ballot Amendment 1 on November 6. As an organization that places high value on the native plants that sustain the extraordinarily high biodiversity of our state, fifth highest in the nation, we hope that you will support this important program that is doing exactly that. At the same time, it is securing the future of Alabama’s wildest places for future generations of Alabama residents and visitors, making these places accessible to the public, and doing so in a wonderfully economical and sustainable manner. Personally, I think when groups as diverse as the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club (among dozens of others) are on the same side of an issue, we all ought to take notice. Rarely do we have such a chance to seize this special piece of common ground for the benefit of so many both now and in the future. 

To get all the facts on this important issue, to learn how Forever Wild uses no tax dollars and how the land must be purchased only from willing sellers at market prices, go to Your vote will help secure Alabama’s beautiful and unique natural heritage.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Joins Reforestation Effort at George Ward Park

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Joins Reforestation Effort at George Ward Park

On Saturday, October 27, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens staff members joined the Glen Iris Neighborhood Association and volunteers from Impact Alabama in an effort to replant George Ward Park. Over time, many of the trees in the park have vanished due to mowing. With the support of Little Garden Club and Red Mountain Garden Club, this five-year project continued on Saturday.

Botanical Bonanza at the Talladega National Forest

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Photographing Phlox sp. and Rudbeckia sp.

Botanical Bonanza at the Talladega National Forest

by: Hunter McBrayer

I was recently invited to visit the Oakmulgee District of the Talladega National Forest on a botanizing trip with Birmingham Botanical Gardens Executive Director Fred Spicer and Kaul Wildflower Garden curator John Manion. Being a plant nerd, I jump at any opportunity to join two knowledgeabe plantsmen whenever invited.  

The Oakmulgee District is an expanse of land spanning 157,544 acres from Southeast Tuscaloosa County to Northeast Dallas County, Alabama.  Within this region there is a high degree of biodiversity, and it is predominantly covered in large savannas of Pinus palustris, longleaf pine.  The area is managed by the United States Forestry Service, who utilizes frequent prescribed burns to control encroachment of non-native invasive plant species, and to create the ideal habitat for proper growth and development of longleaf pine.  The Oakmulgee District is public land that can be used for hiking, hunting, bird watching and other forms of recreation.  

Although the area is abundent with longleaf pines, there are numerous fascinating micro-ecotones, transition areas between habitats.  These transition areas provide rich habitat for countless species of plants and animals, most of which are native to Alabama and the Southeast United States.  Among these are the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker,  Picoides borealis (a species associated with longleaf pine); a host of orchids,  and five different species of magnolia, including the less-than-common Magnolia acuminata, cucumber magnolia, and Magnolia pyramidata, pyramid magnolia. 

While there we explored a large, active beaver pond that showcased many aquatic plants, including Peltandra virginica, green arrow arum, Nuphar advena (syn. N. lutea), spatterdock, Nymphaea odorata, white water lily, Utricularia cornuta, horned bladderwort, as well as numerous species of Carax, sedges. 

Aside from providing a plethora of native plants and animals, the region possesses abundent areas of interest for nature lovers and photographers.   This was not the first time I had the opportunity to visit this area, and surely it will not be the last.

Examining Utricularia cornuta,horned bladderwort

Pinus palustris, longleaf pine

Platanthera ciliaris, yellow fringed orchid

Bog Trotting in Alabama

Monday, June 18th, 2012


Bog Trotting in Alabama

Hunter McBrayer, Rotary Club of Shades Valley 2012 Intern 

Within a few days of beginning my Rotary Club of Shades Valley summer internship with the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, I had the pleasure of being invited to accompany Fred Spicer, Executive Director, and John Manion, Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator, at the biannual meeting of Alabama Plant Conservation Alliance (APCA) in Spanish Fort, Alabama. This is an organization with whom The Gardens has been involved since APCA was formed in 2009. 

As a recent graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in Biology, and my primary interest being the conservation of Alabama’s native flora and its habitats, I was thrilled for the opportunity to attend this event and meet several people involved in plant conservation. Knowing that the trip would involve an exploration of one of our state’s unique treasures, Splinter Hill Bog, I was especially excited. 

Alabama, partly due to its varied physiography, is the fifth most biodiverse state in the US. We have a high rate of endemism, that is – the number of species that are found naturally occurring only in our state. There are 24 plants endemic to Alabama, several of which I’ve been able to observe and study. 

Splinter Hill Bog, a 2,100 acre tract of land near Perdido in Baldwin County, AL, is one of our states many distinct properties managed by The Nature Conservancy. 

In addition to is diverse habitats and populations of several fascinating plants, Splinter Hill Bog is perhaps most known as possibly the largest population globally of pitcher plants, the insectiverous (insect-eating) plants in the genus Sarracenia. In addition to wild orchids and other species of insectiverous plants growing there, the most abundant and visually striking of these is Sarracenia leuocophylla, the white-topped pitcher plant. (shown below)

Being predominantly a longleaf pine ecosystem, one of the important ways The Nature Conservancy manages this property is the use of prescribed burns to remove encroaching competitive plants…something that would have occurred naturally in times past.  

This outing was one of the most fascinating and eye-opening experiences in which I’ve had the pleasure to participate.

Member’s Day Trip Travels to Lake Martin

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Member’s Day Trip Travels to Lake Martin

On May 11, members of Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens traveled to Jim Scott’s private garden at Lake Martin in Dadeville, Ala. Nearly 60 people traveled by bus from Birmingham to the sprawling lakefront property, stopping at SpringHouse restaurant to dine and completing the day with a tour of Morgan Creek Vineyards. The annual trip is offered to members of Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens to fulfill The Gardens’ mission of educating the public about plants and as gratitude for the loyal support received by members in accomplishing this mission.

(Sue Ellen Lucas, Jeannie Curtis)

(Tina Johnson, Ellen Johnson, Carolyn Johnson, Shirley Johnson, Merilyn Hughes)

(Sallie Johnson, Elna Brendel)

(Liz Alosi, Martha Alosi)

PHOTOS: Arrington Plant Adventure Zone Ribbon-Cutting

Monday, April 30th, 2012

(Director James Horton, Mayor William Bell, Sr., former Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr., former Mayor Bernard Kincaid, Executive Director Fred Spicer)

Arrington Plant Adventure Zone Ribbon Cutting

On Thursday, April 26, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens gathered with local dignitaries for the ribbon-cutting of the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone. The newest garden at Birmingham Botanical Gardens is an inclusive space that will serve all of the Birmingham community, but will be a new center for Plant Adventures. The garden’s namesake, Dr. Richard Arrington, Jr., joined current Mayor William Bell and former Mayor Bernard Kincaid at the celebration. Birmingham Parks and Recreation Commissioner Larry Cockrell delivered the invocation before District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott, Plant Adventures Coordinator Jennifer Sanders, Executive Director Fred Spicer and each Birmingham mayor addressed the crowd. Light refreshments were served following the ceremony in the Hodges Room and the Rushton Garden.

(Andrew Krebbs, Tricia Noble, James Horton)

(Larry Cockrell, Richard Arrington, Jr., Fred Spicer)

(Valerie Abbott, Larry Cockrell, Martha Espy)

(Fred Spicer, Richard Arrington, Jr., Valerie Abbott)

(Henry Ray, Tricia Noble, Lou Willie)

(Birmingham Parks and Recreation Commissioner Larry Cockrell, former Mayor Bernard Kincaid, District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott, former Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr., Mayor William Bell, Sr., Plant Adventures Coordinator Jennifer Sanders, Executive Director Fred Spicer)

Andrea Wulf Speaks to Sold-Out Crowd at 14th Annual Spencer Lecture

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

(Pictured, L to R: Murray Spencer South, Nancy Spencer Smith, Fred Spicer, Andrea Wulf)

The 14th Annual Spencer Lecture was held in the Linn-Henley Lecture Hall at Birmingham Botanical Gardens on March 8. New York Times best-selling author, Andrea Wulf, spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 250 people after signing copies of her book, Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature and the Shaping of the American Nation. After guests were treated to the London native’s beautifully illustrated talk, they were treated to a reception in the Hodges Room.

(Archie Blackmon, Linda Blackmon)

(Katherine Bishop, Billy Bishop)

(June Mays, Helen Harmon)

(Alicia Hall, Ken Hall)

Part I: Plant Adventures Prepares for an Exciting Future

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The Gardens eagerly anticipates the opening of the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone in late April. Today our Plant Adventures Coordinator, Jennifer Sanders, begins a series of posts on the vision for the future of the space and its programs.

People sure do love their plants.

The voice came from halfway down a hill covered in woody shrubs and rain-slicked leaves: “I’ve got to have a dogwood.” My first question was “Ma’am?” because I hadn’t known she was there. My second was “Are you okay?”

We were at the New Georgia Landfill for the city of Birmingham’s annual native plant dig. It was a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon earlier in February and we had meandered far down the road to see what we might find. As my eleven-year old dug up a respectable specimen of Vaccinium arboreum (Farkleberry), I wandered a few steps away. I first heard and then spotted the source of the voice, a woman wearing a red shirt, a yellow raincoat, and a considerable layer of mud. Her name, we learned, was Donna.

She was easy to miss, clinging as she was to the ground and the down end of an up-ended tree. As my daughter made several trips back up the hill with Donna’s shovel, bags, and recently-dug oak leaf hydrangeas, I stripped away layers of vines, took hold of Donna’s arms, and helped her pull herself out of the tree stump’s clutches and back up to the clearing..

Her first words as we emerged: “I slid down that hill, but I’ve just got to find myself a dogwood.”

As tactfully as possible, I wondered aloud that perhaps, with the rain coming down harder and a few treasures in hand, it might be time to make our way back toward the parking area. Donna spotted the Farkleberry my daughter had worked so hard to dig and, mistaking the combination of tape colors, said “there’s a dogwood.” With a protective maternal eye, I convinced her of its true lineage. A good thing, as I’d hate to have an altercation with a woman I’d just help climb out of a hole.

Undeterred, she headed down another path to continue her search.

Though we may not regularly risk life and limb in their pursuit, those of us who spend time at The Gardens sure do love our plants. Or, as Executive Director Fred Spicer will tell you, plants are not an option in our lives.  As we move forward with Plant Adventures, one goal of our programs is to tell the stories of what our plants mean to us — to all of us and to the world around us. It’s horticulture with culture mixed in. I hope that you will find ways to participate in the activities we are planning — and you’ll be hearing more from us about those in the weeks ahead.

Executive Director Fred Spicer and Volunteer Dr. John Floyd to Speak at Alabama Master Gardener Conference in Birmingham

Friday, February 17th, 2012


BIRMINGHAM (February 14, 2012) The Jefferson County Master Gardeners invite all gardening enthusiasts to attend the 2012 Alabama Master Gardener Association Conference as we celebrate “The Magic of Gardening.” We look forward to welcoming gardeners at all levels of experience to “The Magic City” for the 22nd annual conference on March 22-24, 2012. Conference activities will be centered at the Birmingham Marriott on U.S. Highway 280, near shopping and a variety of other attractions.

Pre-conference activities begin on Thursday afternoon with docent-led tours at either Birmingham Botanical Gardens or Aldridge Gardens, a public garden in nearby Hoover. That evening there will be a Welcome Reception and Barbecue dinner at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Activities continue on Friday and Saturday at the Birmingham Marriott. Friday’s keynote speakers include Dr. John Floyd, former editor-in-chief of Southern Living Magazine, and Fred Spicer, executive director of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Attendees will have an opportunity to attend breakout sessions on topics such as native plants, cottage garden design, vermiculture, edible landscaping and vegetable gardening. The Friday evening banquet speaker will be nationally-known storyteller Dolores Hydock. Saturday’s speakers include Robert “Buddy” Lee, developer of the Encore® Azalea, and Paulette Ogard and Sara Bright, authors of “Butterflies of Alabama: Glimpses into Their Lives.” Vendors will offer gardening-related books and wares.

The conference is open to both Master Gardeners and the general public. The full conference schedule and registration forms are available at or by e-mailing