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Giving Nature: Show of (Helping) Hands

Around the Gardens Blog

Across the Gardens, volunteers give back to help Birmingham Park & Recreation and Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens staffs meet needs and enhance garden spaces.

By Wendy Wallace Johnson

This post is the fourth in an eight-part series highlighting some of the many ways that dedicated volunteers—both longtime and new—give of their time and talents to support the Gardens and all that it makes possible. We invite you to enjoy additional stories from this series through the links at the end of this post, then sign up to learn more about volunteering with the Friends.

The Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ largest single fundraiser, Antiques at the Gardens, depends on the diligence of many volunteers. Two very special volunteers, Ashelynn Falkenburg-Smith and Alison Lassiter, have coordinated those volunteers for the past four years of the event.

“We coordinate more than 100 floating volunteers each year,” says Ashelynn. “And that is above and beyond the advisory committee, show committee, and junior guild members, who give their time and talents as well. All in all, the number of volunteers working on this event numbers about 250.”

Of the volunteers coordinated by Ashelynn and Alison are many who return to work the show year after year. “Our pool of volunteers continues to grow,” says Alison. “People who have volunteered in the past come back, and they bring their friends. Others just love the event and ask for ways to help out.

“The ideal volunteers are game for anything,” adds Alison. “One minute you may be tending to a VIP nationally known speaker; the next, clearing dirty tablecloths or helping dealers arrange their booths.”

The work sometimes trickles up, says Ashelynn, but they try their best to work smart. “One year, I was mixing a large bucket of mimosas for brunch with another volunteer. A guest asked us if the orange juice was fresh-squeezed,” she says with a laugh. “We would if we could, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.”

In October 2021, Antiques at the Gardens celebrated its 15th anniversary. The next show is scheduled to take place Sept. 29–Oct. 2, 2022.

Interested in volunteering at the Gardens? Learn more about volunteer opportunities by visiting

Giving Nature: An Eight-Part Series about the Impact of Volunteers at the Gardens

Part One: Giving Nature

Part Two: Feeding Mind, Body, and Soul

Part Three: No Time to Waste

Part Four: Show of (Helping) Hands

Part Five: Bridge of Accomplishment

Part Six: Seasonal Sketches

Part Seven: Sitting Pretty 

Part Eight: Clearing the Way