Kaul Wildflower Garden Buzz

In This Issue


Welcome to my “maiden” Kaul Wildflower Garden (KWG) volunteer newsletter. I plan to distribute this letter once-a-month as a reminder of upcoming volunteer sessions, KWG updates and sundry bits of plant-related information. Please share these notes with anyone you think might be interested; please also let me know if you prefer to not receive them.


Our very first KWG volunteer session was held on July 10 with 11 (wow!) intrepid souls showing up to help! We accomplished much work and had fun learning from each other. During every session, I plan a break during which we do a walkabout and learn some useful or interesting botanical techniques, facts or stories.


Since that time we have held five more sessions accumulating 123 hours of work!


Most of the work we have been doing involves editing the Garden…removing large quantities of Hydrangea quercifolia , pictured left (oakleaf hydrangea), and Illicium floridanum (Florida anise). These plants are wonderful in moderation, but are vigorous growers and over the years have begun to crowd-out other plants.


Though we have done some planting, fall is when we will begin to do a lot more of it – once temperatures have begun to cool.


We normally gather to work in the Kaul Wildflower Garden on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, and the third Saturday.


Upcoming Volunteer Sessions

Thursday, August 12

Saturday, August 21

Thursday, August 26

*All sessions 8-11 a.m.


For each session, we meet at the gazebo at the KWG. Please bring sun protection, insect repellent, something to drink and any favorite tools you like to use. Some people also like to bring paper and a writing utensil.

Since we have had such an excellent response to this volunteer program, I do ask that you let me know if you will be attending a session. We may need to begin setting a limit to the number of volunteers we can accommodate each session. Knowing how many will attend each time also helps me plan appropriate activities for the day.

Tool Sources

Some of you have asked me for information about where to obtain some of my favorite gardening tools.

  • Felco Original Pruner – These Felco #2 pruners are the standard for most professional gardeners. They are pricy but will last for many years; the blades may be sharpened and/or replaced.
  • Felco Medium Weight Pruner – I also recommend these Felco #6 for finer pruning and for smaller hands
  • A.M. Leonard Soil Knife – Other than my hand-pruners, this is my favorite garden tool…especially for planting smaller plants for which a shovel would be overkill. I find it much more effective than a trowel and it’s good for removing tough weeds.
Felco Medium
Weight Pruner

Asphidity Bag

I’m a history buff – especially about anything plant-related. I recently read about something called an “asphidity bag.” This was something popular mostly in the Appalachian Region during the 18th, 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries. It consisted of a small leather (or muslin) pouch worn around the neck and in it would most frequently be placed ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and yellow root (Xanthorhiza simplicissima). This item was worn mostly in the winter as a way to repel cold, the flu and other diseases. One account of it reports that it smelled so bad that the reason it kept illness away was that it kept people away! Another account tells of a child who, upon leaving home for school each day - and as soon as she was out of sight of her house, would remove the bag, hang it in a tree – and then retrieve it and place it around her neck as she arrived home. Of interest is an ingredient used in Indian cooking called asafoetida – a foul-smelling ingredient gathered as a resin from giant fennel (Ferula assafoetida) that lends a unique flavor to food. The “…foetida” in the name is Latin for foul-smelling. For more fascinating information about this ingredient and its myriad uses, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida


Thanks for your interest and support!



John T. Manion
Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
205.414.3985 | jmanion@bbgardens.org
www.bbgardens.org | birminghambotanicalgardens.blogspot.com