I view our growth almost like climbing a ladder and the step that we just took was infrastructure- our next step is building our programing. As a note of interest and a statement of tremendous growth – we’ve added over $314,000 in assets since October 1, 2015.
- Newly rebuilt and expanded MarketPlace with new Techné shade house, benches, state-of-the-art irrigation, and level and easy to walk on ground. We will continue working into February with the addition of an open air retail structure.
- Split-rail perimeter fence and new automated entry gate for added security and beauty.
- Beautiful Gazebo which serves as an entry point for visitors and a place to tell the story of what will come next!
- Well-lit sidewalks connecting the MarketPlace and both parking lots to the new entrance.
- Renovated Larkins Classroom with added carpet, lighting, cypress wood trims, blinds, and fresh paint.
- Completion of the Pollinator Garden surrounding the Larsen sculpture, ‘Transformation’.
- Installation and opening of the Aromi Hybrid Azalea Garden in April
- Major improvements to our Greenhouse complex where our volunteers work to propagate plants- New plastic top and sides, shade cloth, plant benches, irrigation upgrade, and ground cover.
- Drainage system for parking lot, MarketPlace, and the top of hill to prevent runoff and flooding
- Improved paths, and new signage and benches throughout Longleaf and the Rhododendron Garden.
Some of you may already know that in September, Maarten van der Giessen became our new MBG Board President. Maarten is a well known and respected local nurseryman who has long been associated with MBG, having served as President twice in the past. He was responsible for initiating the Aromi Hybid Azalea Garden project, which we opened earlier this year, and also for donating his collection of Dr.Aromi’s unique azaleas. For those of you who do not know Maarten, you only have to read his words spoken at the April opening of the Aromi Garden to understand his love of the Gardens –
Think about Mobile Botanical Gardens as a refuge. Let’s say you want to collect all of Sawada’s camellias. You do your homework, buy the camellias, plant them in your garden. What happens when you pass away? The greatest collection of camellias in the last generation was at the corner of Broad and Government, now a Greer’s Grocery. Down the road at Catherine and Government Blacklawn Gardens is now an Office Depot. Rubel’s magnificent Longview Gardens with its roaring lions and giant Buddah is now Mobile waterworks. The lions sit silently in a museum. Even the garden of Dr. Aromi, where all these wonderful hybrids were created, is now a lawn.
Mobile Botanical Garden allows us to hand down what we value to our children, and to their children. It is an enduring home. It is our enduring home.
– Maarten van der Giessen
As a snapshot, there are 3 programs in particular which are central in our focus going forward:
- Increased income through increased marketing of plants made possible through investment in upgrades to our MBG MarketPlace and our own greenhouse facilities. And, through a significant staff addition to lead our propagation, sales and marketing efforts.
- Increased income through investments toward enhancement of facilities and marketing programs for facilities rentals. In particular, we have had great success related to wedding rentals in our Botanical Center.
- Increased income and public education participation in our new Botanical Art instruction programs. Conducted by a professional botanical artist, Derek Norman, formally associated with the Chicago Botanic Gardens, these programs are popular and growing.
In addition to creating and sharing their Bloomin’ Wild series, Derek Norman and Fred Nation have been working to create an interesting array of speakers for MBG in 2017.
“Paleobotanical Discoveries in Alabama” – Dr. Brian Axsmith – Head of Botany, USA
“Wildlife of the Longleaf Pine Forest” – Roger Clay – Alabama Dept. of Conservation
“Invasive Exotics” – Fred Nation – Botanist & Author
“Landscape Design” – Terry Plauché – Landscape Architect & Designer
Amanda Wilkins will be returning to MBG in January after finishing her Masters in Horticulture at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She will be working with the care of our special collections to keep us in tip top shape (especially our WinterGarden, which will be visited in February by the ICS Garden of Excellence Committee)!
Tomatopalooza – Saturday, Feb. 25th
Get the best tomato plants for your Gulf Coast garden. For the first time, we will be growing some of the tomato varieties in own recently updated Greenhouse! The list of available varieties will open on our Catalog on Feb. 1
Plantasia Spring Plant Sale – Fri. – Sun., March 17th-19th, Preview Party on Thursday
Big changes this coming year! We will be holding Spring Plant sale in our newly rebuilt and expanded MarketPlace with open air retail building. No more difficult terrain or muddy puddles when it rains – and we can open MarketPlace right after Spring Plant Sale! Preview night will still be held on Thursday and will be catered by Georgia Roussos. In addition to our usual purchasing of plants, Maarten will be working with some of the local growers to bring select plants in on consignment. You will, as always, have a unique selection of plants.
Festival of Flowers at Providence Hospital – Fri. – Sun., March 24th-26th
With a theme like ‘Wildly Whimsical’, this will no doubt be a fun one!
One Enchanted Evening – Thursday, April 6th
The 2017 One Enchanted Evening, sponsored by the Hearin-Chandler Foundation, will be a night that celebrates the beauty of the Gardens. Brenda Huddle and her OEE Committee will be creating a magical night like none other.
Gallery of Gardens – Friday, May 19th
Back by popular demand! Donna Camp and several of our great MBG volunteers have been working to bring together the historic districts for this revamped Gallery of Gardens. We will partner with Oakleigh, Church Street East, and DeTonti Square and will feature unique gardens, all within walking distance.