Amanda Wilkins, Curator of Collections

It’s been awhile since spring plant sale, but now we’re moving into the time when we’re seeing out beloved bees and butterflies return to the region. With that, we’re reminded we have the botanical tools to lure them to our gardens and lend them a hand as they complete their life cycles.

The MarketPlace at the Mobile Botanical Gardens has a host of lovely nectar plants that we know and love, such as Salvias, Coneflowers (Rubeckia ssp. and Echinacea ssp.), and Coreopsis. But we also have many of the plants some species of butterfly need to have to feed their caterpillars.

Well, we’ve got a deal for you!

We’ve developed a wagon of the last few native pollinator plants left from Plantasia, and they’re going to be for sale for $65, more than 10 percent off!

The cart consists of:

  • 1- Alabama ox-eye daisy- Heliopsis helianthoides– Small butterflies, like skippers, love to get nectar form these. They are one of the first things to come up with the spring and the last to go down in the winter. This one likes more sun than most, but can tolerate some shade during a part of the day. Definitely prefers well-drained soils.
  • 1- Indian Blanket- Gaillardia sp.– The red and yellow flowers on this sunflower-relative really get the little butterflies going.
  • 1- Hammock Snakeroot- Ageratina jucunda– I have seen all sorts of bees and butterflies on this plant. Pale blue/purple flowers make a great accent in a naturalistic garden.
  • 1- Stiff Bluestar- Amsonia rigida– The feathery habit of this plant paired with the blue star-shaped flowers will have those butterflies coming back for more. Make sure the site is moist, but well-drained.
  • 2- Golden Alexander- Zizia aurea– HOST FOR: black swallowtails. Ever had black swallowtail caterpillars eat your fennel? Well try this native relative to see if you can get a piece of that licorice action this year. This plant has dainty yellow flowers and ours have been blooming in the nursery since February!
  • 1- Small-flower Pawpaw- Asimina parviflora– HOST FOR: Zebra swallowtails. When you don’t have room for the pawpaw we love to eat (Asimina triloba), you can make some for this shrubby (to 6-8 ft.) one. The rusty, golden hairs on the obovate leaves add an interesting texture to a garden, but it is the bizarre fruits that’ll have you scratching your head.
  • 1- Starry Rosinweed- Silphium asteriscus – The Longleaf Pine Forest at MBG is graced with this plant in the summer time and there are few things lovelier than going out to watch the bees go to town on the disk florets. They love them! The flowers get to a good height (3-4 ft.) so they can be planted behind something for an airy effect.
  • 1- Coreopsis– An all-time favorite of bees and butterflies of all types.

~

If those don’t trip your trigger, consider adding these to your butterfly hospitality suite:

Hop Wafer, or Wafer Ash – Ptelea trifoliate
Host for: Giant and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
The common name comes from the wafer-like fruits this plant makes in April and May. It is deceptive, but it is related to lemons and limes (in the family Rutaceae!). It flowers in large, terminal heads and little flies and bees like to collect the oils for their hives. The larva (caterpillars) of two species of swallowtail like to munch on the leaves, so don’t be afraid if you see something eating the leaves.

Sweet Gum – Liquidambar styraciflua
Host for: Luna Moth
The sap from this tree used to be used for making candy. I’ve never tried it, but who knows, maybe it was tasty! We do know, however, that this is one of the host plants for luna moths, those gorgeous, large, green moths we sometimes see in the summertime outside on the porch. If you’ve got a well-drained spot in your yard and a spot in your heart for the lovely rainbow of fall foliage this tree creates, this is the one for you.

Hercules’ Club, or Toothache Tree – Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Host for: Giant Swallowtail
This gnarly plant is a show-stopper: it has shiny, compound leaves with thorns (well, really botanically prickles) down the trunk. The leaves can be used as a temporary numbing agent, due to oil in the plant. It’s also a reason why the larva of the giant swallowtail likes to chew on it (or maybe they have a toothache too!).The reason the plant has this oil is that it is in the citrus family, as well (family Rutaceae).

by Amanda Wilkins

I was Louisiana-bound the last weekend of March for the 2017 National Azalea Conference in Hammond, Louisiana. The Azalea Society of America met for their annual conference in Cajun Country, and rolled out the best food and hospitality for visitors from all over the country. It was only my second time to Louisiana in my life and I was so glad to get a chance to see the state with the locals. Dr. Allen Owings, Jason Stagg and Gina Herbert were excellent hosts (and Gina totally decked MBG out with lots of cool plants to try!!), and were understanding of my probing questions about Louisiana horticulture. To say the least, I was the youngest person there, though.

Hammond Research Station, Hammond, LA


The conference was based at the research station. The terrible weather thankfully moved out just as I was driving over to Louisiana, and showed how incredible the property is. I hope I get to go back over there during the summer to see all of the plant trials! See more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/th8dNDxVBMRB7M859

Imahara’s Botanical Gardens, St. Francisville, LA


Mr. Imahara has an amazing story to tell, and he is certainly honoring his family’s complex and amazing horticultural and cultural legacy through building this young botanical garden. His father’s haiku wood carvings alone are worth the trip out there! It is only open by appointment, but I am so glad we were able to go as part of the conference. Mr. Imahara had many stories to tell about the plants he chose and the way the land is sculpted. It was a beautiful trip! See more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/AiaDqEydLNxbQhA28

Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, St. Francisville, LA


Gosh, nothing says the Deep South like an alleé of live oaks (Quercus virginicus), and Rosedown has a really special one. It was a stately home with a beautiful formal garden with an old cold frame and yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) hedges. I especially enjoyed the lower pond. It would be great to come back when the azalea hedges are in bloom though! See more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/btsaMqoN6CQ5Eavp6

Transcend Nursery and Buddy and Dixie Lee’s Home, Independence, LA

Goodness, the famous Buddy Lee, of Encore Azalea fame, opened his trial nursery and home to us to potter and nose about. Buddy’s trial nursery is on an old nursery property, and Buddy has some really interesting plants out there. Exciting to see broadleaf evergreen Rhododendron trials going on. Then, we went over to Buddy’s home and got to see his seed lots of possible future Encore azaleas (as well as get wooed by Cajun music and food). See more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/e7xXfmgpgnoLB4Kh6

Bracy’s Nursery, Wilmer, LA

I first visited Bracy’s back in February, as this one of the nurseries we source plants from for MBG’s plant sales. We were given the VIP driving tour of the 200 acre nursery with the owners and then were treated to a generous fish fry lunch at their home across the street. Ms. Regina is a planter genius. See more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/2KKU2FhvHEWvvFSk7

Plant Show and Tell with Margie Jenkins, Jenkins Plant Farm and Nursery, Amite, LA


Finally, the nursery tours ended with a stop at Ms. Margie’s nursery in Amite (am-eet). My goodness, the lady is a legendary plantswoman, and her passion and love for sharing plants are inspirational. Asking various folks to hold up 3-gallons so she could talk about them, Ms. Margie gave us an overview of what azaleas she had available for sale and told us stories from her 94-years of life. Really, what we all wanted to see was the nursery lots of 30 year old seedlings of native deciduous azaleas, many of which were in flower. Giving Ms. Margie a hug around the neck was a wonderful way to end the trip. See more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/5kibZu3gc7VpvwYA9

American Lotus Delta Tour

The boat is full!
American Lotus Delta Tour 

Saturday, June 17, 2017 
9am – 11ish with catered box lunch
MBG Members $50, NonMem $65

MBG has chartered the Osprey tour boat for a morning trip into the Mobile Delta during the peak bloom season for Lotus. This trip will be an opportunity for botanical artists, photographers, Delta enthusiasts and anyone just interested in taking a closer look at these beatiful flowers of the Delta. Limited seating, so don’t delay signing up for this great trip! Trip includes boat transportation, Guides, boxed lunch, and beverages (bottled water / sodas).

Crazy for the Red White and Blue!
A Six-Week Course: WEDNESDAYS 10am – 1pm from May 24 – June 28

MBG Members: $125
Nonmembers: $150

Register Online

A botanical art studio class designed for the student to create, during the six week
class, a series of three individual botanical flower drawings/paintings. Each work will
be inspired by a red, a white and a blue flower. And each student will have the
opportunity to work in the medium of their choice. From graphite, colored pencil,
gauache, watercolor, including English-dry brush to pen and colored inks. The resulting works will form the basis of an informal exhibition and a reception at the Mobile Botanical Gardens to celebrate 4th of July.

This is a class ideally suited for the beginning, intermediate and advanced
student. For the beginner it is an opportunity to discover the therapeutic and aesthetic
pleasures of drawing and painting from nature. And for the intermediate and advanced
student an occasion to further advance their individual drawing and painting techniques across a palette of challenging colors.

For questions or concerns regarding the materials list do please speak with
Derek Norman (uk1937@icloud.com).


About our Instructor –

Derek Norman and his wife, Ursel, are members of MBG and they are new to our Gulf Coast community, having moved here from Chicago. Derek was born, bred and educated in England before he moved to the States. His graphic works, paintings, drawings and botanical works have been exhibited in Europe and America. He has won Gold and Silver Gilt Medals at the Royal Horticultural Society in London and he is represented in many private and permanent collections including the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, the Library of Congress, the British Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Florilegium Society.

One Enchanted Evening

Thursday, April 6th, 7PM

Join us for a night of botanical delights and music…
Honorary Event Chairman, Ann Bedsole  –  Event Chairman, Brenda Huddle
Georgia Roussos Catering  –  Enen Yu accompanied by strings and piano ensemble

4/13/2017: What a wonderful night we had! We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful or enchanting evening. Special thanks again to all of our sponsors for the evening and the hard work of the One Enchanted Committee and MBG staff. Look for pictures of the event to be posted over the next couple of weeks.

Learn more about this fundraiser and see how the night turned out…

Botanical Art Class-Spring Wildflowers of the Longleaf – with Derek Norman and Fred Nation

A Six-Week Course: Fridays 10am – 1pm from
April 14th – May 19th

Members: $150
Nonmembers: $175

A six week class – draw, paint, sketch the wildflowers while studying the eco-system of the Longleaf Pine Forest- Taught by Derek Norman & Fred Nation, who have been creating the beautiful Bloomin’ Wild series for the Gardens.

This class will be conducted amongst the spring wildflowers in the Longleaf Pine Forest of the Mobile Botanical Gardens – a step and a short jump from the parkinglot at the MBG. Botanical art instruction will be given to beginning, intermediate and advanced students by Derek Norman with Fred Nation offering advice and guidance on thebotany of the spring wildfowers on a bi-weekly basis.Students will be able to work in the medium of their choice from pencil, colored pencil, watercolor or pen and ink. And others.  As a basic materials list it is suggested that each student work with a sketch book (sugested size 8.5” x 11”), pencils(2H & HB) plus a comfortable lightweight folding chair. Beyond these basics each student should consider exploring a series of different media over the course of theclass. Sketchbook classes offer an opportunity to discover the potentail of working in anew medium and finding support and guidence.

For questions or concerns regarding the materials list do please speak with Derek Norman (uk1937@icloud.com).

Register online here.

About our Instructors –
Derek Norman and his wife, Ursel, are members of MBG and they are new to our Gulf Coast community, having moved here from Chicago. Derek was born, bred and educated in England before he moved to the States. His graphic works, paintings, drawings and botanical works have been exhibited in Europe and America. He has won Gold and Silver Gilt Medals at the Royal Horticultural Society in London and he is represented in many private and permanent collections including the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, the Library of Congress, the British Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Florilegium Society.

Fred Nation is a field botanist, environmental consultant, free-lance photographer and writer, who lives in Daphne, Alabama with his wife Maureen. Fred teaches various seminars on habitats and ecosystems for Weeks Bay Reserve and conducts workshops on invasive exotic plant controls and plant identification for the USDA Forest Service, The Cooperative Extension System, and Weeks Bay Reserve. He has identified and nominated 25 Alabama State Champion Trees.

Gallery of Gardens

*Gallery of Gardens was a great success! Thanks to all of the amazing volunteers that made it happen!*

Friday & Saturday, May 19-20
10am – 4pm daily
$30/ticket day of

Explore nine charming private gardens (five courtyards, two small gardens, and two large gardens) in Mobile’s Historic Downtown Districts and discover new ideas for your own! Gardens in DeTonti Square, Oakleigh Garden District and Church Street East, all designed and maintained by their owners, will be on display this year. Local artists will be sketching and painting during the tour and Mobile County Master Gardeners will be available with plant lists to tell you what is growing in each garden. You may begin at any of the nine gardens on tour.

 

Lunch and Learn
At the Jon Archer Center, 1070 Schillinger Road North
Saturday, March 4th, 2017, 10:00 – 3:00pm
9:30 Registration, Box Lunch and drinks included and more…
Master Gardeners $20
Non-Master Gardener $30

Gardening for Serenity: Outdoor Spaces that Rejuvenate, Heal and Ground
by Jenny Peterson, owner of J. Peterson Garden Designs, and author of The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing & Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet. 10% of Jenny’s book sales is donated to metastatic breast cancer.

Trialed and Trusted Plants, Distinctly Southern
by Robert “Buddy” Lee, Inventor of Encore Azaleas, the world’s best-selling Azaleas, has more than 30 years experience in nursery management, breeding, and propagation, and new plant development.

Non-refundable advanced reservations are required. Limited seating. Reservation deadline Feb. 25th. Send checks made out to MCMG, or call for credit card purchase to:
MCMG
6419 Willow Brook Run East
Mobile, AL 36608
251.342.2753

Please note that this program is presented and hosted by the MOBILE COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS and not MBG

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.

plugstuesday-greenhouse-volunteers-sowing-tomato-seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 
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.

blue-hairstreak-on-porterweed_2015

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!

Exciting Lectures in 2017!

In addition to creating and sharing their Bloomin’ Wild series, Derek and Fred have been working to create an interesting array of speakers for MBG in 2017. Dates and details will be posted once set.

Botany for Botanical Artists – Registration is Closed
Friday, February 24th & March 3rd, 10 a.m. – noon
A class consisting of two sessions/lectures, each of two hours.
Instructor: Fred Nation
Designed for botanical art students who would appreciate a better understanding of the principles of basic botany from which they draw inspiration (and for anyone who might be interested). While touching on the subjects of morphology and taxonomy the essential focus would be on the botany of flowers and leaves. Highlighting the diagnostic characteristics that are so important to good accurate botanical drawing and documentation, and also for the identification of plants.
Members $40 / NonMem $50

“Landscape Design”, Terry Plauché – Landscape Architect & Designer – Registration is Closed
Friday, March 10th, 2-4:00
Terry Plauché, Landscape Architect, will be presenting from 2-4pm. Terry is well known for his commercial and residential designs and he has long been a friend of MBG.
$10 NonMem, Free Members

“Invasive Exotics”, Fred Nation – Botanist & Author – Registration is Closed
Friday, April 28th, 2-4:00
Fred Nation is a field botanist, environmental consultant, free-lance photographer and writer. Fred teaches various seminars on habitats and ecosystems for Weeks Bay Reserve and conducts workshops on invasive exotic plant controls and plant identification for the USDA Forest Service, The Cooperative Extension System, and Weeks Bay Reserve. He has identified and nominated 25 Alabama State Champion Trees.
$10 NonMem, Free Members

“Paleobotanical Discoveries in Alabama”, Dr. Brian Axsmith – Head of Botany, USA
Friday, May 12th, 2-3:30
$10 NonMem, Free Members

Dr. Axsmith states, “My interest in fossil plants (Paleobotany) is driven by my belief that many of the important questions in vascular plant evolution require paleobotanical answers. My research focus at this time involves fossil plants from the Pliocene (~ 3 million years ago) Citronelle Formation in Mobile and Baldwin counties, Alabama.  Because the Pliocene record in North America is poor and this was a time of extreme global warmth, the local fossils are particularly significant.”
Register through our Online Catalog

“Wildlife of the Longleaf Pine Forest”, Roger Clay – Alabama Dept. of Conservation
Dates TBA