Hello, Mobile Botanical Gardens Community! I hope you’ve all been outside enjoying the wonderful weather! My goodness, it’s been so mild and sunny that our plants are really outperforming themselves this season.

magnolia-spmagnolia-annCome See the WinterGarden Camellias and Magnolias!
Now, as in this week, is the time to come see the Camellias and Magnolias blooming in the WinterGarden. The mild, dry, sunny weather has beckoned the flowers to unfurl from the Camellias and Magnolias, and the lack of hard freezes and wet weather have preserved the blossoms. Set against the blush of the Taiwan Cherries (Prunus campanulata, Rosaceae), blossoms of white, red and pink (and sometimes blue/purple!) and dark green foliage really stand out. You’ll primarily see cultivars of Camellia japonica, which makes up a large portion of our collection currently, during this time of year. These usually possess larger, showier blossoms; and we have some show-stoppers here in the collection.

I highly recommend a visit sometime this week, as we may never have such a perfect season again! We’re open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Members get in free, and visitors are $5 each.

wintergarden-workday_01_28_17Volunteering Workday a Success!
I directed a volunteer workday in the WinterGarden this past Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., we had about ten folks (including a volunteer as young as 12-years-old!) come prune Camellias and other shrubs, clean pine needles out of the canopies and do other clean-up maintenance in the WinterGarden. It was a whirwind day, but we accomplished so much and tackled years-worth of necessary cleaning. Come and check out the progress we made!

If you are interested in getting involved in horticultural projects, or are involved in a group that needs volunteer hours/projects, please feel free to reach out to me at awilkins@mbgardens.org.

camellia-japonica-tOngoing Records and Label Updating Project in WinterGarden
The plant records and labels are what set the collection in the WinterGarden apart from a park or someone’s backyard. We strive to keep notes about each plant in the garden, which mainly consists of Camellias, but not only. These notes include where the plant came from, how long it’s been in the garden, if there is something significant about the plants, and when it is in bloom. On top of these notes, each plant should have a botanically-accurate label to go with it. I have instituted a new labeling system which includes not only the common and scientific (Latin) name of the plant, but also the family and where it is native to. For our Camellias and Rhododendrons, which are our main collections at MBG, we will strive to include who registered the cultivar name and when. Please look out for these new labels as we get our records updated!

If you are interested in data entry, plant research and verification projects, please feel free to reach out to me at awilkins@mbgardens.org.

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Moving Forward at the MBG Greenhouse
Brad Chambers has been busy giving our greenhouse and nursery areas a facelift, and things are really coming together up at the top of the hill. The Tuesday Greenhouse Volunteers of the MBG Cavalry have been busy getting settled into their new space, potting up their cuttings, sowing tomato seeds for Tomatopalooza, and gearing up for more in-house propagation projects. We are trying new strategies for producing more plants, so please stay tuned.

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Plantasia, Spring Plant Sale 2017: Mobile Garden Dreaming….
Ms. Nita and I have been in an ordering frenzy, dreaming about what interesting and beautiful plants you will be able to buy for your home gardens at our spring plant sale. There are already a few repeat favorites, like our four different types of Porterweeds and various citrus, but a few new faces as well. Stay tuned to the email blast and website for the availability list coming soon!

gopher-tortoise_llpf_01_30_17New Longleaf Pine Forest Resident
A team of volunteers and MBG staff got together about three weeks ago to do a controlled burn on a section in the Longleaf Pine Forest. It was a successful burn according to our forestry consultants. I drove my cart around Monday, January 30, to check out if anything had emerged from the ashes, and I found a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) and a freshly-dug burrow! Just goes to show: build it (or in this case burn it), and they will come!