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How Birmingham Botanical Gardens is combating the drought

published: 11/07/2016

How Birmingham Botanical Gardens is combating the drought

By: James Horton, Director of Horticulture

As everyone knows, we are currently experiencing an Exceptional Drought Emergency. The timing of this drought is actually in our favor (if you can believe that) as compared to the drought of 2007. As you may remember, the 2007 drought occurred earlier in the growing season. The 2016 drought started much later in the growing season and we are actually just days away from our first annual killing frost date for the Birmingham area; however, it does seem that the first frost is still several weeks away when looking at weather predictions. With that said, there are several factors regarding this late season drought which will reduce our need to water plants as much:


• Days are getting shorter and fall is around the corner when trees and other deciduous plants lose their leaves


• Plant growth almost comes to a complete stop, except for those plants which naturally bloom during the fall and winter, such as sasanquas, camellias, edgeworthia and winter honeysuckle, and those plants which actually grow such as winter annuals (pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, poppies to name a few) and winter weeds of course.

• Day time temperatures will fall below the 80s very soon and before we know it, we'll experience those glorious days with highs in the 60°F's and 70°F's


• Nights will start to cool below the 50°F mark


• Days will become cloudy and we'll start to receive our normal late fall and winter rains.


During this prolong drought, Birmingham Botanical Gardens has been taking the following steps to reduce its water (irrigation) use:


• We have delayed planting trees, shrubs and most annuals (plants have been purchased but are being held in a holding area till weather conditions improve)


• We stopped fertilizing plant material weeks ago since this requires additional irrigation (fertilizer promotes new growth, which in turn requires more water)


• We stopped pruning since that also promotes new growth and more water demands by the plant


• Many of our late season annual flower beds have been pulled since those flowers were nearly spent having past their prime


• We have increased hand watering and spot watering


• Gardening staff is working a staggered shift to start watering earlier each day


• We have stopped watering turfgrass since we are just weeks away from first frost (our tough, warm season grasses such as bermuda and zoysia grass will go dormant early but will actually survive and regrow from rhizomes next spring)


• Mowing has been greatly reduced and the lawns cleaned of leaves by use of back pack blowers


• We have stopped filling all pools and ponds except Long Life Lake in the Japanese Gardens because of the Koi and the Kaiser Lily Pool because of the water lilies

Watering Tips

• Several cleaning projects requiring pressure washing have been delayed till conditions improve


• We have located and repaired water leaks as they have occurred


• Low flow toilets and urinals have recently been installed as part of a citywide project to conserve energy and water whereby reducing utility costs for the City of Birmingham

Even though we have taken several steps to reduce our water and irrigation use, Birmingham Botanical Gardens is actually classified as a nursery with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries allowing us certain exemptions from the Birmingham Water Works Drought Management Plan. As a botanical garden with a huge collection of plant varieties, we are trying our best to maintain the plant inventory for the entire community to visit and enjoy not just now but for years to come.


To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828.

About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.


Erin Weston shares holiday decorating tips over brunch at The Gardens on Thursday

published: 11/02/2016

Erin Weston shares holiday decorating tips over brunch at The Gardens on Thursday

Cotton & Quill hosts a day of horticultural heaven at Birmingham Botanical Gardens with the "Magnolia Queen," Erin Weston, on Thursday, November 3 from 10-11:30 a.m.

This "Horticultural Holiday" class and brunch will demonstrate how to turn magnolia leaves into beautiful holiday decorations that will last for years to come.

Guests will also have a chance to win tickets to Kip Moore at the Alabama Theatre on November 11 or tickets to Bob Dylan at the BJCC Concert Hall on November 15.

Thursday evening from 5- 7 p.m., Cotton & Quill's flagship store hosts a Cocktail hour/meet and greet with Erin. Guests are invited to bring photos and their budget to Erin and she'll tell assist in making their dream wreath.

Erin Weston's work has been featured in the December 2013 edition of Southern Living magazine as well as Garden & Gun magazine.


To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828.

About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.


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Phone: 205.414.3950

2612 Lane Park Road
Birmingham, AL 35223
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