Posts Tagged ‘John Manion’

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.

What’s in bloom at The Gardens? 4.9.12

Monday, April 9th, 2012

What’s in Bloom at The Gardens? 4.9.12

As Spring continues to bloom at The Gardens, the Kaul Wildflower Garden continues to be a gorgeous spot. Above, Kalmia latifolia blooms. Below are many more of the things that can be seen around The Gardens today.

Chionanthus virginicus

Erigeron sp.

Aquilegia sp.

Phlox divaricata

Rhododendron austrinum

Rudbeckia sp.

What’s in Bloom at The Gardens? 3.8.12

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

What’s in Bloom at The Gardens? 3.8.12

We’re already beginning to see beautiful signs of Spring at The Gardens. The above photo is Magnolia ‘Butterflies,’ taken just this week. Below are more of the gorgeous things you can see around the Kaul Wildflower Garden and beyond.

Aquilegia canadensis

Cardamine bulbosa

Cliftonia monophylla

Crowton alabamensis

Erythronium americanum

Osmunda regalis

Sanguinaria canadensis

Thalictrum thalictroides

Tradescantia sp.

Trillium sp.

Zizia Aurea

Volunteers in the Kaul Wildflower Gardens – 2.23.12

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

A group of more than a dozen volunteers joined John Manion in the Kaul Wilfdlower Garden this morning.

Trillium Treasures

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Pictured: Trillium flexipes

Trilliums normally take from five to eight years to flower when propagated from seed, thus few nurseries carry them, and when they are sold, they are frequently prohibitively expensive. If you ever find flowering-size trilliums that are not pricey, question if they were dug from the wild, something we strongly discourage.

We recently have had the rare opportunity to connect with a person who has been growing trilliums from seed for 20 years and does not sell them until they reach flowering size.  They are sold in special tube pots that are nearly a gallon and the plants, when leafed out, are about a foot tall and eight to ten inches wide.

We will be selling these plants at our Spring Plant Sale, but decided to take pre-orders so that more people will be able to grow this iconic spring wildflower. The four species available, all of which do well in Alabama, are (click on photos to enlarge):

  • Trillium cuneatum, sweet Betsy, purple toadshade

  • Trillium luteum, yellow wakerobin, lemon trillium

  • Trillium sulcatum, southern red trillium, furrowed wakerobin

  • Trillium flexipes, nodding trillium, bent trillium

The price for these treasures is $15 per pot, and for a preorder we need a minimum order of five plants. If you prefer to purchase single plants, we will have them at the Spring Plant Sale, while they last. Included with each order will be complete planting and cultural information.

If interested please go to this page, print it out, fill in the appropriate spaces and return it to Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens by mail or in person We must have your order in hand by no later than February 20, along with your payment (no cash, please). Plants will be available for pickup beginning March 1. Should our source run low, we will fill orders in the order they are received.

Note: A well-known, popular specialty nursery is selling these same plants for $22-$26, plus shipping!

Questions? Please contact: John Manion, Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator at

Kaul Wildflower Garden – Bog Update 1.12.12

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Today, volunteers gatherd in the Kaul Wildflower Garden where John Manion has led the installation of a new bog for the past couple of months. Now that preparation is complete, planting begins!

New Display in Archives and Rare Book Room

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Here are images of a fascinating display mounted by Jason Kirby, whom oversees our Archives and Rare Book Room in The Library at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This was on display during our recent Central South Native Plant Conference and illustrated the history of plant collecting. Some of the items displayed included: some rare early florae (books listing all the plants in a given area), press boards (used to press and dry specimens), vascular (tin containers in which to carry live specimens), old herbarium voucher specimens (pressed dried plants kept long-term), and a old lithograph of Karl Linnaeus – “the father of modern taxonomy.” Jason even included a modern microscope through which visitors could examine some of the old pressed specimens.

Kaul Wildflower Garden Bog Update – 12.20.11

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Progress continued today in the new Kaul Wildflower Garden bog under the direction of curator John Manion. It’s come a long way in the last month!

Installation of New Bog Continues in Kaul Wildflower Garden

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

On Saturday, volunteers in the Kaul Wildflower Garden continued their efforts to install a new bog under the direction of curator John Manion.

To learn more about John’s Certificate in Native Plant Studies program and the unique volunteer opportunities offered to its participants, visit the website and sign up today!

Here, Bob Kohler works in the new bog.

Gary Walker loosens a bail of peat moss.

Mike Rushing and Bob Kohler stomp the peat moss.

Bob Kohler stomps peat moss.

Volunteers Work at the Birmingham Zoo Quail Habitat

Friday, December 9th, 2011

On Saturday, December 3, volunteers from our Certificate in Native Plant Studies series spent time working at the quail habitat at the Birmingham Zoo. This unique volunteer opportunity is one of many only available to participants in the program. For more information on how you can enroll in the program and take advantage of volunteer opportunities like these, visit our website. While you’re there, you can register for classes online.