The Gardens Blog

Explore the Harrell Station paleontological site on Saturday

published: 05/16/2017

Explore the Harrell Station paleontological site on Saturday

On Saturday from 8:30-4:30 p.m., the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series at Birmingham Botanical Gardens will take a field trip to Harrell Station Paleontological Site, a 140-acre research site for the Alabama Museum of Natural History. The site offers exposed Mooreville Chalk and remnant Black Belt prairie. The area contains three major plant communities: open prairie, chalk outcrop and forest; these habitats are home to several rare species of plants and insects. Many of species are disjunct from the Great Plains, suggesting that a grassland corridor connected the two in the past. Made up of a series of 23 expansive chalk gullies, the site has produced over 80 different Late Cretaceous marine vertebrate species including sharks, fishes, mosasaurs and turtles, as well as occasional terrestrial remains such as birds and dinosaurs.

Visitors will have the opportunity to collect vertebrate and invertebrate fossils as well as experience the flora and fauna of the site. Midday, the group will visit nearby Spencer Farm (a sustainably focused effort) for lunch.

Reserve your seat for the trip online here.

Trip leader Dan Ehret spoke more about what to expect from the field trip. He is the Curator of Paleontology at the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

When and how did you first take an interest in this Dallas County site?

The Harrell Station Paleontological Site has been a well-known fossil locality since at least the 1940's. Mr. C.M. Barber from the Field Museum in Chicago came through the region in 1945 and discovered the wealth of fossils. Subsequently, Dr. Rainer Zangerl and staff from the Field Museum returned in 1945 and again in 1946 to collect for the museum. The results of their collecting was a seven part memoir on the Vertebrate Fauna of the Selma Formation of Alabama published as part of the journal Fieldiana between 1948 and 1970.

The 142-acre site was purchased by the Alabama Museum of Natural History in the early 1990s from the local landowner. Since that time, it has become the main field site for the Paleontology collections at the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

What makes the Harrell Station Paleontological site so unique?

The site is unique in that it preserves both the paleontological and ecological resources of the Black Belt region in Alabama. The late Cretaceous chalk (~82 million years old) exposed at the Harrell Station Paleontological Site is present underground all over the Black Belt Region. However, it is only exposed in limited areas (mostly along river banks).

Many of the river exposures were flooded during the damming of the Tombigbee River and many of the landlocked outcrops were eventually turned into catfish ponds. Harrell Station has remained untouched. Fossils found at the site are primarily marine; 82 million years ago it represented the shallow marine, continental shelf environment. We find: clams, oysters, barnacles, starfish, ammonites, wood, amber, bony fishes, sharks, turtles, marine reptiles (mostly mosasaurs), in the 1940s a dinosaur was found, flying reptiles (pterosaurs) and even birds with teeth (Ichthyornis).

How has it been able to remain relatively untouched for so long?

The site has been privately owned until the Alabama Museum purchased the property in the early 1990s. All of the surrounding properties are used primarily for cattle ranching. The deep gullies with their steep walls present a serious danger to cattle. Therefore, most of the 142-acres was kept fenced off from ranching and there is little other uses for the property. This meant that the property was left alone as the landscape around it was altered significantly.

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

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

Mother's Day weekend at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

published: 05/11/2017

Mother's Day weekend at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

There's much to celebrate this weekend at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Friday is National Public Garden Day, and The Gardens is Alabama's most visited free attraction. Each year, 350,000 people visit The Gardens, which is open every day of the year from dawn until dusk. Admission remains free, and the City of Birmingham and Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are able to keep admission free and fund their educational program through - among other resources - the generosity of their donors. Consider making a donation this National Public Garden Day.

Mother's Day at The Gardens welcomes brunch to The Gardens Cafe by Kathy G. No reservations are required and the expansive menu, which will be served from 10:30 - 2:30 p.m. includes: chicken and waffles, eggs Benedict casserole topped with creamy Hollandaise sauce, smoked bacon and sausage, smoked salmon with an assortment of toppings, stone ground grits, an assortment of breakfast breads and pastries, carved herb crusted top round beef and an assortment of selected homemade cakes.

The Birmingham Rose Society will also be holding its 65th annual Rose Show and Sale on Mother's Day weekend. Admission to the Sale is free and it will take place on Saturday and Sunday inside the Garden Center. Saturday will begin with accepting entries into the show from 6-10:30 a.m., with judging to follow from 10:30-1 p.m. The public show and sale will be open on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. On Saturday from 3-4 p.m., Chris VanCleave will offer a free seminar titled: 'Which Rose is Right for You?'

And if you still need a gift for mom, Membership at The Gardens is a unique idea that will allow her to enjoy everything that The Gardens has to offer. She'll be able to shop Spring Plant Sale before anyone else, attend Antiques at The Gardens for free, take part in all Members-Only classes and get 10% off all purchases at The Gardens Cafe and Leaf & Petal at The Gardens.

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

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

The Gardens visits Almond Granite Outcrop on Saturday

published: 05/02/2017

The Gardens visits Almond Granite Outcrop on Saturday

This Saturday, the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series will return to Randolph County to explore Almond Granite Outcrop. This unique "moonscape" is one of Alabama's strangest and most fascinating landscapes. Its soil types range from basic to acidic and it's inhabited by an array of contrasting unusual plant species - some rare. Situated in the Piedmont physiographic region, this outcrop, which brings to mind the surface of the moon, is home to many fascinating ecotones due to its geology and hydrology. This field trip will examine a range of diverse habitats ranging in character from xeric to boggy seeps. Participants will see colonies of some very special plants, including one which grows only there and one other location - and even a carnivorous species.

Participants can take field trips - in addition to core and elective classes - in order to accrue hours toward completion of the Certificate in Native Plant Studies program or any session can be taken a la carte with no further commitment necessary. This field trip takes place on Saturday, May 6 from 8:30-4:30 p.m., and it's just $70 for Members and $80 for Non-Members. Registration can be completed online.

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

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

Carver artifacts on display at Earth Day at The Gardens

published: 04/19/2017

Carver artifacts on display at Earth Day at The Gardens

Alabama's longest-running Earth Day celebration returns to Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Saturday from 11-4 p.m. The Gardens will be celebrating the life and work of Dr. George Washington Carver and for the occasion, Tuskegee University has loaned a portion of their Carver collection for viewing. Among the collection of artifacts that can be seen on Saturday are a meteorite that landed in Tuskegee in 1940, photographs, letters and a microscope used by Dr. Carver.

Known for his introduction of the peanut and sweet potato as an alternative crop for cotton growers, George Washington Carver is regarded as one of the most influential scientists in American History. Carver looked to nature to inspire his work in the lab as well as artistically and they often times intersected in creative but practical ways.

There will also be family activities and exhibitors, a photo booth and live music.

Earth Day also welcomes a collaboration with the Birmingham Zoo's Party for the Planet. The Cahaba Road entrance to The Gardens will be open, and visitors are encouraged to enjoy both attractions. Visitors to the Zoo can receive $20 off a Birmingham Botanical Gardens Family Membership, and visitors to The Gardens can receive 50% off an Individual Membership at the Zoo.

Before the Earth Day at The Gardens event begins, KultureCity will formally kick off its partnership with The Gardens in the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone from 10-noon. The partnership will make The Gardens the first sensory inclusive botanical garden in the nation.

Admission to the event at The Gardens is free.

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

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.

KultureCity and The Gardens partner for Earth Day celebration

published: 04/11/2017

KultureCity and The Gardens partner for Earth Day celebration

by: Plant Adventures Coordinator Brooke McMinn

I have this friend. Let's call her Em. Em has a child with severe autism. She pours super-hero like amounts of energy into working with her child for small but powerful achievements, like saying a new word, or making it through a shopping trip. Things like that seem minor to many of us, but to Em and so many other families like hers, they are significant milestones requiring patience and persistence. Em also devotes her time to advocating for her son and other children living with autism. That advocacy is how I came to learn of an organization called KultureCity and how they help organizations like ours be more accommodating to families like Em's.

Who is KultureCity?

KultureCity, one of USA Today's 2016 Top Nonprofits in the U.S., is a Birmingham based, impact driven nonprofit focused on helping autistic individuals realize their potential by providing tangible help and equipping businesses and the community to relate to children with autism and their families. "The KultureCity Sensory Friendly Initiative was born out of the desire to help businesses and community organizations better understand the needs of individuals with autism and other sensory needs. The goal is to allow these individuals the ability to see and experience all the things a community has to offer, without being overwhelmed by everything going on around them." - kulturecity.org

What are KultureCity and The Gardens doing together?

In 2016, KultureCity has provided The Gardens with an evidence-based sensory training program to help increase the knowledge base of our staff and volunteers. The training included an initial assessment of staff knowledge relating to autistic individuals, in-person training for staff by a licensed occupational therapist, access to training videos to be used with new or seasonal staff and volunteers and modification recommendations. KultureCity will also provide yearly follow up for training purposes.

Following the staff training, KultureCity performed a site assessment for The Gardens. Their assessment included a facilities walk-through, programs evaluation, intake form assessment and further modification recommendations related to these topics. The site assessment included recommendations for placements of co-branded signage which will convey our partnership to visitors to The Gardens upon their arrival at main entrances and designate "Quiet Space" and "Headphone Zone" areas throughout. The Gardens will also receive recognition on the KultureCity website (kulturecity.org) as a sensory friendly partner organization.

What happens next?

On Saturday, April 22, as part of our annual Earth Day at The Gardens celebration, The Gardens will host a Sensory Friendly Family Event to officially introduce its' partnership with KultureCity. Families will be provided with updated maps of The Gardens grounds indicating the locations of our designated "Quiet Spaces" and "Headphone Zones" to better plan a walk through our collections. Additionally and as requested KultureCity will provide grab-and-go sensory bags for families to borrow during their visit to The Gardens. These sensory bags will contain items like a fidget toy, a non-verbal communication card and noise-cancelling headphones. Come join us to learn how The Gardens and KultureCity are working together to allow individuals with autism and other sensory needs, as well as their families, the ability to see and experience all that The Gardens has to offer.

For more information about KultureCity please visit kulturecity.org. Earth Day at The Gardens is Alabama's longest running Earth Day celebration. This year's event will be on April 22 from 11-4 p.m. and will honor the legacy of Dr. George Washington Carver. Admission is free. For more information about Alabama's longest running Earth Day celebration, visit www.bbgardens.org/earthday.


About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

A facility of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the beauty and value of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are the result of a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. In 2016, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was named as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today. Education programs run year round and more than 10,000 school children on average 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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