Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

>Birmingham Botanical Gardens

March 31, 2011

>Even without sunshine and with cool temperatures the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are wonderful. A friend took Bobby and I on a personal (although short) tour of the Kaul Wildflower Garden, where nature is at its best. I say that, because the plants are in a natural setting, and nature is showing us what she can do.*

I will post a few pictures here, but soon expect to see some of these pics and others with some science behind them on the science blog, where It’s been almost a year since I wrote anything. But I’m itching to get back into science.

I’m not going to name any of these plants here. But you will see several species of Trillium, and some other early spring bloomers.

If I were an ant, and had human eyes, this is what I would see. I got down on the ground and took this picture looking up toward the sky, which you can see a bit of in the background.

Stepping out of the wildflower garden (and for one of these pictures, out of the state) here are some roses.

Early blooming Lady Banks rose is currently blooming. This one was spotted in Charleston, South Carolina last week.

This one is in our backyard.

And this one is at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

This is a pretty rose that’s in bloom at the gardens as well.

I don’t think there is ever a bad time to visit the botanical gardens – something is always in bloom. Even if not much is blooming, there are interesting plants and barks and ferns and mosses, a couple of bee hives, and more.

*There are volunteers and staff members who assist nature in maintaining the garden.

Speaking of flowers, here is Brandon Flowers singing Crossfire. He’s about as pretty as any of the flowers pictured here. Another example of nature at its best.

>Early spring bloomers

March 3, 2011

>The storm did not do the damage that I feared, and Spring is getting closer and closer.

Here are some more blooming things. We have two of these Japanese magnolias. This one is darker than the one I pictured earlier this week.

The flowers are really loaded with color.

These ornamental cabbage or kale really last the entire winter season and even at the end of their days they add a nice touch to the garden.

The pansies are another winter flower here, but this spring they have really put on a show.

Here is a solid yellow one in an old concrete planter Glenn gave me after his house burned. One of the outdoor pieces that thieves didn’t steal.

Lenten Rose is an early bloomer. I was told that Dr. McElroy, the former owner of this house, had Lenten roses, and though I never found any of his, I planted these as a remembrance.

I am very grateful to Dr. McElroy (who lived here from the 1960’s until his death in 2000) and to Col. Huey (who lived in this house from 1895 until his death in the mid 1900’s) for the garden that they created. There are many unusual plants, and one is this leather leaf mahonia. It’s not rare, but there are so many of them here, and some are very tall. They are blooming now, with these yellow flowers that will be replaced with blue berries that the birds love.

Peach trees have beautiful flowers. We haven’t gotten any edible peaches from this tree, which is just 3 years old. Maybe this year.

Quince, on the other hand, produces little apple like fruits. We never use them, but maybe this year I’ll can some quince jelly.

A red quince.

Snowbells. There are little clumps of these scattered around the yard.

One of the many varieties of daffodil or narcissus.

Next up…azaleas…and then roses.

>Flowers before the storm

February 28, 2011

>Every year the threat of severe weather makes me anxious about the flowers in our yard.

At the beginning of March, there are always camellias still blooming, and I bring a few indoors as fresh flowers always seem to brighten up a room and lift the inhabitants’ spirits.

The yard is full of daffodils. We will see how they look tomorrow.

This one is already a little worn looking, but she is pretty never the less.

This Japanese magnolia is not native to Japan, but that is what everyone calls it. Its name is Magnolia liliiflora, and is native to southwest China, was cultivated in Japan, and introduced to English speaking countries from there, thus the common name.

Today’s storms will certainly tear these blooms up.

Sometime during January the fountain in the back yard quit working. I figured the pump had died, and was waiting until spring to replace it. Yesterday we were outside working and suddenly heard water dripping. the fountain had come back to life!

Obviously this is a part of the yard that we have not gotten to yet. But since this is a rose garden, we have a few weeks until blooms appear. By then this area will be very inviting, both to us garden lovers, but also to the birds that love to drink from the splashing water.

>Global warming

January 10, 2011

>Today is a drippy, slushy day in Bessemer Alabama.

It’s a perfect day to look for evidence of global warming.

Let’s go outside.

Here some ice has collected on a pine tree. Much more of this, and the power would have gone out, causing me to miss the BCS Championship Game and Auburn playing tonight.

War Eagle!!! We are still keeping our fingers crossed (both regarding power…and the game).

Here a holly tree and its berries are cased in ice. The cedar waxwings will take care of these berries, at some point.

This crepe myrtle has a layer of ice on it. This reminds me of northern friends in Pennsylvania who tell me that they can grow crepe myrtles without having to protect them in winter like they used to have to.

These wisteria vines, which I will be fighting again this year, are covered in ice.

Here are some chilled, frosted rose hips.

How about the camellias. There are several varieties on the property, and some begin blooming in late fall. This one has been blooming for weeks. These blooms will be damaged by the ice, but more will open later in the week or next week.

Ah ha! Here is my evidence.

This camellia normally blooms before Christmas. I have taken pictures of its flowers in the past in December, and have used the flowers in decorating for our Christmas Party, during the first two weeks of December.

This year, this is the first bloom on the plant, and today is January 10. There are lots of buds, so I will be enjoying this plant throughout the month and in to February, most likely.

But why is it a month late blooming?

I am not a camellia expert. I wish I knew one who could come visit and identify the dozen or so varieties that we have. But I would assume that the winter blooming camellia buds enlarge and finally open in response to low or falling temperatures. The plant may have perceived warmer temperatures in the late fall, and responded by delaying blooming.

That is the, although anecdotal and without proof, evidence for global warming I was looking for.

Winter days like today make me think of Tasha Tudor and her book, Tasha Tudor’s Garden, my favorite garden book. In it she describes her garden in every season, and pictures accompany the descriptions.

If I were to write such a book, I would include this picture. There’s just something about evergreens and ice.

Enjoy this cold, wet, beautiful, winter day in the south.

>Who’s supporting who?

September 22, 2010

>In two weeks we will wake up knowing who will lead Bessemer into the “teens,” the second decade of the 21st century.

The case has been made with certainty for Ken Gulley, (here and here), but a lot will be said and every effort will be made to de-rail his campaign before the runoff election on October 5.

Take for instance that silly lawsuit that was dismissed last week. All that did was make the Bessemer Progressives realize that maybe there is someone worse than Sarah Belcher in District 3. Unfortunately, we supported that person, pretty much only because she was the only person running against Belcher. But I’ve seen a glimmer of hope that Ms. Belcher will work with Gulley if he is elected. It never hurts to be an optimist.

I have copies of Ken Gulley’s and Ed May’s campaign finance reports.

There are no big surprises, but it is obvious where the support for each candidate is coming from.

Ken Gulley has the bulk of his money coming from individuals, with over 40 people donating to his campaign. This does not count the numerous people who donated at three fund raising events that raised a total of over $800. His other donors are primarily local small businesses. His total contributions were $21,109.

Ed May, on the other hand, had only one individual contribute and the bulk of his money came from PACS and Corporations. At least 56% ($25,240) of his contributions are from PACS associated with city attorneys, and it’s probable ,that another $14,500 did also, as it was funnelled through PACs that one of those attorneys used during the 2006 campaign. His total contributions are $44,540.

I guess what it boils down to is that the people who live in Bessemer and the people who own small businesses want a change in the leadership of our city. And those who are embedded in the city’s affairs and their special interest groups like the status quo.

Speaking of the people of Bessemer they were recently asked to voice their opinion on a poll on the mayor’s campaign web site. The Mayor asked, “Are you happy with the current growth of Bessemer?” A simple question.

The poll is no longer on the site.

But before it was removed a week ago, here were the results. 76.5% of respondents chose “No,” and only 23.5% chose “Yes.”

(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Individuals, not PACS, vote in online polls. Individuals are funding and supporting the Gulley campaign, because they are not happy with the growth of Bessemer, according to the mayor’s own polling, and do not think he has addressed the issues of importance to the city, according to a poll on Bessemer Opinions that was posted just after the election in August.

While on the mayor’s campaign web site I noticed a couple of things that he or his campaign manager or web site manager should have caught. I am not the best speller, or typist, and often I hit the wrong keys and I may misspell words on this blog. But I use spell check and I have readers who alert me if something slips by, and I correct it. But May’s campaign site has been up for 6 weeks or so, and this is how the home page appears. I circled a couple of misspelled words.

If you want people to be impressed with you, you can’t have little errors and if you do you must correct them when they are found. (I had one in my book and when I found out about it, I corrected it. Some of you have “rare and valuable” imperfect early copies of Those Others.)

There are actually other errors but I don’t want to post all of his pages on here.

My annual flowers (and some of my perennials) are just drying up. It’s fall, it’s unusually hot and dry, so the changes in our gardens are inevitable. Here are a couple of zinnia flowers that were hanging on last week, but even those are gone now. This purple one has a little spider creature on it that I didn’t notice when I was taking the photograph.

This orange flower looks as if it has no stem. It just seems to be floating, like something we might see on Pandora.

>Hydrangeas at the Oasis

June 4, 2010

>I don’t remember posting many hydrangea pictures, so here are a few. They are one of the highlights in the Oasis during the month of June.

All of these except for the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas and possibly the last picture came from Aldridge Gardens Hydrangea Sale over the years.


April 26, 2010

>The yard is full of blooming irises. This is their best year, as last year I dug many of them up and divided and replanted them, and they seem to have appreciated the attention.

Here’s the Goo Goo Dolls and their song Iris from City of Angels


April 15, 2010

>Our backyard is an oasis.


I don’t look at Bessemer as a suburb of Birmingham. It is an urban city, with the same opportunities that other urban communities have. In fact, more opportunities.

But it also has the same problems many urban communities have. A neglected and deteriorating downtown. Lack of leadership. Missed opportunity. Perceived and actual crime. Traffic. Noise.

But we have a place to retreat to, where the hustle and bustle of Bessemer and the street noise and sirens can be forgotten.

Our sanctuary. Our oasis. Our backyard.

This pergola is covered with half a dozen antique climbing roses that will be exploding in color and scent over the next few weeks.

But already, this rose, known as Mermaid, which actually towers in a nearby magnolia tree, has sent a cane down to the pergola from above, and allowed a bud to open early. Mermaid’s canes can grow 40 feet or more, and this specimen does not disappoint.

Even at night there is beauty (and I need a tripod to get better pictures).

This Flame Azalea, a native, deciduous azalea, is a spring favorite, but was almost overtaken by weedy vines and had to be rescued.

Spring bulbs are still coming into play, as these yellow irises opened yesterday.

Sweet Shrub is a childhood favorite, one of the shrubs that grew in the woods near my Vestavia home, and that my dad pointed out to me. It does have a pleasant scent, that’s for sure.

The Lady Banks Rose is in its full splendor, and this is not all of it. A cane from this climber has travelled about 50 feet up into a nearby cedar tree and is blooming now also. What a surprise to look high op in a cedar tree and see yellow rose blooms!

Columbine. These perennials have sowed their seeds all over the place, and this is the result.

Most of the pesky Wisteria that we have is the familiar purple, but this vine has white flowers.

If you need respite from your busy life, come pay us a visit, and relax for a while in the Oasis we call our backyard. Just give me a call or send a message. A cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a hundred different birds and the floral scents will let you forget your troubles, if only for a while.

This is a good weekend for gardeners. Petals from the Past in Jemison is holding their Antiques in the Garden event.

The weekend event you have been waiting for has arrived. Our annual Antiques in the Garden event will be April 16 and 17. Shop the many antique and craft vendors we have joining us this year. There will also be food vendors and Southern Sweets will be serving lunch in our educational barn. We are looking forward to seeing you this year.

Closer to home, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens annual plant sale takes place at Brookwood Village near the old Bruno’s.

Today’s the big day for the 2010 Spring Plant Sale! The Preview Party is today from 5-6:30 p.m. & tickets are $45 now/$50 at the door! The Members-Only Sale (free for members) is from 6:30-8:30 tonight…if you aren’t a member or you were but need to renew, come on anyway, you can join or renew right there… at the door! The doors open to the public Friday morning at 9 a.m.! See you there everyone!

>Spring has arrived

April 6, 2010

>Last week I posted some photographs of pre-Easter beauty in our yard. Now it’s post-Easter, and here are how some of those plants, plus a few others, are coming along.

I love our backyard.

First, though, I feel that the first review of a work of art, be it visual art or literature or music, is the most important, at least to the artist. Here is the first review by a reader of Those Others. From that link you can navigate to buy it.

And, I had a letter published in the Birmingham News. Just trying to educate the people of Birmingham. Mine is the second letter on this page, but the first letter is worth reading too.

Here’s that tulip that was just a tight bud last week.

Columbine. Its tall spindly stalks wave in the slightest breeze.

This iris has such deep, rich color. A yearly favorite.

This is a type of fritillaria, a newcomer to our garden. Sorry this picture is a little out of focus. I’ll try to get a better one.

The Japanese maple shadowing the waterless pond. The Japanese garden is going to grow a little this summer, I believe. See that little evergreen shrub to the left? I am going to expand the Japanese garden area to incorporate that. There’s also a crepe myrtle with some lilies that will be a part. More pics on that as it comes to be.

Wisteria. Why does it have to be such a pest?

The Lady Banks Rose is still not at its peak, but it’s getting there.

>Vote tomorrow, and fall bloomers

November 9, 2009

>The protest against Love Won Out was a huge success. Read here what went on inside, and outside the conference. There is hope for the children who were forced to attend.

Be sure to vote tomorrow, for Claire Mitchell for district 56 representative. She’s a champion for education as well as entrepreneurship.

Hurricane Ida is approaching and may affect our weather tomorrow. I took some pictures this morning since these shrubs may not look so good in a day or two.

This rose is still producing blooms, and leaving a pleasant scent on the back porch.

This rose blooms all summer long, with flowers that change color.

This is a fall blooming camellia.

This camellia is usually at it’s peak around Christmas