Lunch and Learn: The Dirt on Soil
On Wednesday, June 25, Arnie Rutkis led a Lunch and Learn at The Gardens titled “The Dirt on Soil.” His talk focused on the importance to soil when gardening and landscaping on personal and commercial levels. He focused on how human beings and nature impact our soil, debunked the myth that clay soil is bad for your yard and encouraged the crowd to allow nature to run its course, putting leaves ina compost area rather than bagging them up and shipping them off. He also talked about new ways to add nutrients to your soil using logs.
Our next Lunch and Learn is right around the corner! On July 9, Daniel and Andrew McCurry will share “A Change of Scenery.” Participants will discover how to make their lifestyle fit their current lifestyle, physical needs and desires. And it’s FREE! Bring your lunch, and we’ll provide the drinks and desserts. It’s in the Auditorium from 11:30 – 12:30. We’re eager to see you at The Gardens!
2014 Member Day Trip
On Friday, June 20, Members at Birmingham Botanical Gardens took their annual day trip. This year’s trip was to Hills and Dales Estate in LaGrange, Ga. The group enjoyed a private tour of the garden and house and lunch by the pool.
The centerpiece of the Hill & Dales Estate is a beautiful Georgian-Italian villa, designed by architects Hal Hentz & Neel Reid for textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway, Sr. Completed in 1916. The home complements the formal boxwood gardens planted earlier in the mid 19th century by Sarah Ferrell.
The property has been lovingly preserved by two generations of the Callaway family and is now open for public visitation. Guests can explore educational exhibits and experience an engaging film that tells the story of the estate.
More information on Hills & Dales Estate is located at: http://www.hillsanddales.org.
Each year, Birmingham Botanical Gardens invites campers with the City of Birmingham Parks and Recreation Department to learn about plants, propagation and more.
Get Into The Gardens: Simple Watering Strategies
Su Reid-St. John and daughter Zoe continued their weekend series on container gardening. Last Saturday’s focus was on simple watering strategies to keep your container plants looking vibrant through the up coming dog days of summer. Su demonstrated the effective uses of having a drip irrigation system.
Container plants are like family pets: the more attention you give them, the better they behave. But it’s not always easy to give plants the care they need, particularly when hot or dry weather means daily watering.
A simple, automated drip-irrigation system, which applies water slowly and directly to roots, frees you from hand-watering and helps eliminate harmful fluctuations in soil moisture. Plants respond by growing full and lush. And you’ll never have to drag around another hose. For more information on using an automated drip-irrigation system check out http://bonnieplants.com/library/drought-busting-techniques/
A Walk in the Swamp
[guest blog post by intern Mitchell Vaughan]
On Friday, May 23, I accompanied Kaul Wildflower Curator John Manion and my two fellow interns on a visit to the University of Montevallo’s Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve on Spring Creek in Shelby County. The Swamp is a 60 acre tract of natural wetland, located near the University of Montevallo campus and used by the university for education and research. It’s part of the Cahaba River Watershed, which brings us to an interesting distinction: that between a swamp and a bog. Swamps form in the basins and floodplains surrounding rivers, where river water flows into lower, shallower areas and eventually flows back into another river system. Bogs are raised areas of stagnant water, which accumulate from precipitation and are held by the high peat content of the surrounding soil. Unlike swamps, true bogs seldom have regular inflow or drainage. Swamps also differ from bogs in that they are able to support large hardwood species. Some of the dominant species in Ebenezer Swamp are Nyssa aquatica (water tupelo), Acer rubrum (red maple), Magnolia virginiana (sweet bay magnolia) and Platanus occidentalis (sycamore). Numerous other interesting plant species also occur there, some rare and some endangered.
Traversing the swamp is possible on a boardwalk, built and maintained by the university, which meanders gently across the length of the swamp. Walking along, I sensed the primordial nature of the place, from it having existed undisturbed for centuries before human encroachment. The swamp once came under threat when plans were made to drain the area to make way for a quarry. Fortunately, through legal action by the university, that plan was cancelled. Macknally Land Design subsequently created the master plan for the development of the swamp.
Ebenezer Swamp must be experienced in person if its beauty and serenity are to be fully appreciated. For some, the word “swamp” conjures images of murky, tannin-stained mires, but the sight of the bright dappled light in Ebenezer Swamp couldn’t be further from this. The waters teem with fish, mussels, and crayfish, all readily visible from the comfort of the boardwalk. Visitors are able to observe up-close, an array of lush plant life. Alabama residents, owe it to themselves to visit this natural state wonder at least once, probably to return again and again… as I will.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens hires new Special Events Coordinator
Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce the hiring of new Special Events Coordinator, Ragan Cox.
Ragan comes to The Gardens from Sight Savers America, where she was a KidCheck Plus Program Coordinator, planning nearly one hundred events each year. A graduate of Auburn University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, she also worked as an Auburn Special Events Assistant, planning and facilitating events for the University President, First Lady and Board of Trustees.
Ragan was born and raised in Birmingham and “some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting The Gardens with my grandmother, a Master Gardener,” she stated.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ragan and have her on board as we continue an exciting year of events celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Gardens,” said Jean Frey, Director of Development.
For Thursday’s Natural Beauty class, two mother-daughter groups joined Elinor and Winfield Burks, Linda Norred and her mother Jane Salsbury and Teresa Roberts and her mother Betty Carraway, who was in town from Louisiana. Linda visited The Gardens last year and knew it would be the perfect place to visit with her mom, aunt and cousin on their all girls Mother’s Day trip to Birmingham.
Avondale School visits The Gardens
On May 6, 3rd grade students at Avondale School visited The Gardens to take part in Discovery Field Trips. Mr. and Mrs. William “Bill” Barnes provided a picnic lunch for the group. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes have adopted classes at Avondale School, and each year, they welcome their students, teachers and parents for a complimentary lunch at The Gardens following their visit for Discovery Field Trips.
Mr. Barnes talked to the students about the rewards that can come from hard work in school years, and the lunch was to reward students for a year of accomplishments and to encourage them to give their best to their future education. In addition, he congratulated the teachers and principal, Dr. Ann Curry, for their leadership.
Executive Director and CEO Fred Spicer encouraged students to study hard in science and math to lead them to promising careers in upcoming science and technology fields.
Education Activities Specialist Dawn Coleman, Donor Relations Officer Drew Rickel and Education Program Coordinator Ellen Hardy also showed their support from The Gardens.
Rotary Club of Birmingham’s Margaret Debardeleben congratulated students and teachers on their new playground which was recently made possible by Rotary Club of Birmingham.
Earth Day at The Gardens 2014
Community Garden Coalition for Birmingham and Birmingham Botanical Gardens again partnered to bring Alabama’s longest-running Earth Day celebration to Alabama’s largest living museum on April 26. Several vendors and exhibits were on display in the Formal Garden in front of the newly renovated Conservatory.
Salsa de Mayo returns to The Gardens
Salsa de Mayo returned on May 1, as Chef Lori Sours demonstrated recipes for her Salsa Senorita line of salsa to Junior Board of Birmingham Botanical Gardens.