After a tour of Wright’s Nursery in Plantersville our group of Master Gardeners appreciate the process and work that go into getting bedding plants, herbs and tender perennials to market. Heather Wright shared the steps involved starting from a seed to a plant ready for our gardens. She showed us the trays and the machinery used in the process and walked us through several greenhouses. We saw all sizes of plants, from those that had just germinated to larger ones almost ready to sell. We were astounded that they produce 22,000 hanging baskets of plants and untold numbers of bedding plants annually.
Wrights Nursery plants are branded Alabama Grown and can be purchased at independent nurseries around Central and North Alabama.
Photos by Trisha Williams, Susan Cleckler, and Sondra Henley.
Lee Walters, Susan Cleckler, Joyce Lawson, Diane Clapp and Sondra Henley (not pictured) lined the back bed at the extension office with veneer cast stone. The bed will hold hydrangeas and other plant material. (photos by Sondra Henley)
The 2017 Christmas Home Tour had a good attendance despite the unexpected snow that blanketed the whole county on December 8th. The weather was cold but sunny on Sunday, Dec. 10th, with lots of snow still on the ground. I think this really got everybody in the Christmas spirit. There were three homes on the tour that were in Deer Trace subdivision off of Temple Road. The first on the street was the beautiful home of Charles and Jackie White. Next door to them was the equally beautiful home of Junior and Sue Cleckler. Last on this street was the newest home of all of them, the home of Joseph and Jodie Parnell. Also on the tour was the beautiful home of Bill and Michele Thomas, which is located on Studdard Drive. All of the homes were tastefully decorated by the homeowners, then fresh greenery was added by the Master Gardener hostesses of each home. There were also Master Gardeners stationed outside the homes to help with parking. Thanks to all who braved the cold and came out to help us with the 2017 CHT!
Chilton County Master Gardeners volunteered for the Fall Landowner Tour hosted by the Chilton Natural Resources Council on October 9th at the L.C. “Foots” Parnell property near Stanton. The event was “Rain or Shine” and it was a very damp day following right after Hurricane Nate dropped over seven inches of rain on the property. Fortunately there was only a light shower during lunch.
Master Gardeners helped with parking, registration, morning snacks and serving lunch. Thanks go to Master Gardeners Rick Miller, Larry Jones, Diane Clapp, Lola Patterson, Harriett Jackson, Sherry Ray, Donna Babin and Trisha Williams.
In addition to volunteering Master Gardeners got to ride along on the wagons and attend the educational sessions.We learned about Intensive Pine Management for Aesthetics, Wildlife Openings and Management, Hardwoods and Prescribed Burning, and Longleaf Pine Management. The highlight of the tour was the Landowner Objective and History session given by property owner Foots Parnell, the sixth generation to own the property. He talked with us about his family history with the property and the steps he has implemented to grow pine trees and manage for wildlife. We also toured his weekend home.
The Chilton Natural Resources Council did a great job with the Fall Landowner Tour and those of us that attended encourage anyone interested in forests and wildlife to attend a future tour.
On May 25th, several of the Chilton County Master Gardeners went on a guided tour of the University of Montevallo’s Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve. Our guide, Mike Hardig, Department Chair at UM, discussed the history and importance of swamps as he walked the boardwalk with us. He pointed out the native trees and plants and told us no visit to the swamp was complete unless you spot a snake and we did!
Mike showed us plants native to the swamp including Tupelo gum trees, sycamore trees, Lizard’s Tail, Swamp Dogwood, Arum, Virginia Sweetspire, Leatherflower(native clematis) among others. He told us that the swamp is home to water moccasins, timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, beavers, turkey, and deer.
The swamp is used by UM for hands on science classes. It also features abstract sculptures of a frog, a heron and a dragonfly made from recycled steel by students in UM art classes.
Article and photos by Trisha Williams
Chilton County was honored to have the Harvest for Health Training Program held at the Alabama Power Building in April . This study helps determine the benefits of home gardening for cancer survivors and is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The program not only provides a raised bed vegetable bed, soil, plants and other needed items, it pairs a Master Gardener with the participant to help mentor them has they develop gardening skills.
If you are interested in becoming a participant, call 1-844-476-9478.
From left to right; Elizabeth York, Assistant to Outreach Coordinator – Harvest for Health Study, member of Chilton County and Shelby County Master Gardener Associations, Renee Thompson, Outreach Coordinator for Harvest for Health, Evan Ware, assistant and AU Master’s Program in Horticulture Studies, and Kerry Smith, State Master Gardener Program Coordinator.
Kimberly Lyn, Chilton County MGA member, Secretary to association and Clanton resident, gathers supplies for her participant’s vegetable garden.
Kerry Smith, State MG Coordinator, educates Master Gardeners on their responsibilities and expectations for mentoring a surviving cancer participant.
John Manion, Director of the Kaul Wildflower Garden at the Birmingham Botanicals Gardens, led a guided tour of the gardens for several Chilton County Master Gardeners on April 20. He told us of the history and construction of the Kaul Wildflower Garden and shared great information on native plants and stories that go with many of them. He has started an area of eight plants that are only found in the wild at the Bibb County Glades. We learned the difference between the Bigleaf Magnolia and the Ashe Magnolia, two native deciduous magnolias. Some of the native plants we learned about included Indian pink, trillium, May apples, ferns, yellow root, bluebells, Mt. Laurel, climbing hydrangea and many more. Our group also visited many other areas of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and enjoyed lunch on the terrace. Many thanks go to Sue Webb for planning this tour and for providing the delicious chicken salad sandwiches. Attending were Catherine Williams, Essie Edel, Harriett Jackson, Sue Webb, Sondra Henley, Dianne Clapp, Trisha Williams, and Bonnie and Bill Hairrell. Photos and article by Trisha Williams.
In early April Chilton County Master Gardeners had the pleasure of a guided tour of June Mays’ garden in Mt. Brook. June is a retired landscape designer, author and speaker. Her garden starts in the parking area and covers every part of her property. From the driveway our eyes followed the line of the driveway to an arbor covered with Lady Banks roses. Gravel pathways meander throughout the property and lead to special features such as a small water feature, a bench to enjoy the garden, or the potting shed. There was even a muscadine arbor and two raised vegetable beds. June has included many native plants such a blood root, sweet shrub, partridge berry, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, and May apples. We could tell that she is a plant lover from the variety of plants she has included, many that are unusual cultivars. We enjoyed hearing her say that she had moved plants because they did not do well where she first planted them–seems that all gardeners do that! She also told us of her garden challenges that included the recent loss of a large shade tree. She was in the process of recreating that area of the garden. The shade was gone and and many plants were damaged. We really enjoyed our visit with June Mays and her garden. Photos and article by Trisha Williams
On March 27th, CCMGA members and several interns met with Gay West, ACES coordinator at the Extension office in Clanton to work on the 2017 improvements to the site’s landscape. Irrigation was installed to the flowerbeds. A vegetable bed site is being planned along with a Hydrangea bed.
Sue Webb, Harriett Jackson and Rick Miller met with Gerald Arrington at Minooka Park to walk the hiking trails and see what needs to be done first. Chilton County owns the park and it features walking trails, bike and ATV trails, picnic areas, inside and outside venues for gatherings of all kinds, lakes, woods and views aplenty. If you haven’t been there take a break and visit. You may even see wild turkeys on the way in. The park will be a lovely place for Master Gardeners to spend time volunteering. Much of the existing hiking trail just needs some raking and marking. Sue has plans for 3 hour work days and designs to use more native plants and identification signs to add educational value to the trails. But for now some leaf raking in the dappled shade will do much to preserve the already existing trail and make it user friendly and easy to follow. This is going to be a really fun project for Master Gardeners!
Sue will have a consultation with a member of the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association to plan and mark a new section of the trail to make it more accessible to the office. The trail association is dedicated to and has experience with planning, building, and maintenance of footpath only trails
by Harriett Jackson and Sue Webb
Photos by Harriett Jackson