Curator’s Corner: Getting back in the swing of things
Amanda Wilkins
1/13/17

 I found this leaf-shaped variegation on a Camellia x vernalis ‘Egao Shibori’. Oh the wonders of Nature!

I found this leaf-shaped variegation on a Camellia x vernalis ‘Egao Shibori’. Oh the wonders of Nature!

Dear MBG Community,

Oh, it’s so good to be back in Mobile and back out at the Mobile Botanical Gardens. There have been so many needed and worthwhile improvements at the gardens while I was gone. Thank you so much for your continued support. Your support allows me to do my job better!

So, what have I been up to since I got back on Monday, January 2? It seems a little bit of everything, but the new year has offered a lot of opportunities for change and moving forward. I’m really looking forward to what we’ll do this year.

One of my favorite parts of my job is learning the stories about the plants at the garden. This is Camellia japonica ‘TDN-0091’, which is probably an unnamed seedling from Tom Dodd Nursery out in Semmes. Goodness knows how it came to be at MBG (and that will be the next step!), but we’re certainly glad it’s here. It’s made of stunningly perfect layers of pink.

Camellia japonica ‘TDN-0091’

Plant Curation
One of my major projects as curator of collections is to make sure the plants at the gardens are documented and studied through time. I keep the stories about where plants come from, who’s touched their past, and how they relate to the grand scheme of horticulture. The Camellia japonica cultivars in the Kosaku Sawada WinterGarden are just now beginning to come into their own, even with the latest deep freeze! I’m currently working to update our plant records in this area to align with the industry standard for records in botanic gardens. It’s a daunting task, but little by little, and with a lot of help from volunteers, we’re set to get it done by February 14th, when the ICS committee will arrive for a review of our collection! If you’re interested in getting involved in the recording project, please feel free to drop me a line at awilkins@mbgardens.org.

Camellia japonica ‘TDN-0091’: One of my favorite parts of my job is learning the stories about the plants at the garden. This is Camellia japonica ‘TDN-0091’, which is probably an unnamed seedling from Tom Dodd Nursery out in Semmes. Goodness knows how it came to be at MBG (and that will be the next step!), but we’re certainly glad it’s here. It’s made of stunningly perfect layers of pink.

A view from the front line. It was a lot of fun being on the drip torch (I was the one setting the fires!)

A view from the front line. It was a lot of fun being on the drip torch (I was the one setting the fires!)

Longleaf Treasure Forest Burn
You may notice one section of our Longleaf Treasure Forest has recently been burned. Our tireless Longleaf volunteers, mostly consisting of dedicated members of the neighboring community and forestry professionals, successfully cleared water oaks (which are bad for controlled burns) in the last patch on the south side of the forest and so our forestry management team pulled the trigger on a burn on Wednesday, January 11. It was a small but mighty crew out there for a few hours, dripping fire, raking fuel and putting out burning stumps. It’s looking good post-burn, so look out for little seedlings making an appearance soon!

MBG Cavalry: Volunteering at the Gardens
MBG Cavalry, assemble! Volunteering is a huge part of how the gardens continues to exist and service the community. Whether you are interested in getting involved on the grounds doing horticultural projects or are better suited to easy activities involved with records-keeping, please get in touch with me at awilkins@mbgardens.org. I would love to work with you! Volunteering at the garden gets you out of the house and into the garden, where you can learn more about plants and horticulture just by spending some time at MBG!

Upcoming Pruning Workshop
Finally, I will be running a pruning workshop at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 20. We’ll cover topics, such as pruning techniques, timing, and pruning tools. The session will finish up with a hands-on pruning project in the Japanese Maple Garden. Whether you know nothing at all or need a refresher on the techniques, this class is for you. Feel free to bring your own tools and any burning horticulture questions with you. Registration required. Please call the office at

251-342-0555 or email jkrchak@mbgardens.org. Free for members, $10 non-members.

I appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you at the garden. Stay tuned for more news from the garden, and future posts about cool plants and interesting horticultural topics!

Most sincerely,

~Amanda Wilkins

Curator of Collections

A view of the private hills of a hunting estate in Corour, Scotland. I’d got up to help a friend on collection for her Master’s thesis. It was tough work, but someone has to look at those Rhododendrons in the Scottish Highlands when they’re in full bloom!)

A view of the private hills of a hunting estate in Corour, Scotland.

P.S. Curious about where I’ve been since August 2015? Check out my blog to see photos from my time in Scotland, where I did my Masters in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

A view of the private hills of a hunting estate in Corour, Scotland. I’d got up to help a friend on collection for her Master’s thesis. It was tough work, but someone has to look at those Rhododendrons in the Scottish Highlands when they’re in full bloom!)