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
Chilton County Master Gardeners held their Awards program this year at the February meeting. Refreshments and decorations were provided by the members, with a Valentine theme. The Helpline Top Hours were: 4+ Days – Pat Farmer(Chairman), Sarah Saunders, Lanell Baker, & Ann Moore; 3+ Days – Bonnie Hairrell. The Top Hours Category was awarded to: Harriett Jackson, 905.50, Audrey Giles 581, and Alan Reed, 480.50. The Top CEU hours went to Jimmy and Mildred Knowles with 46.50. The Service Project of the Year was the Demonstration Garden Redesign. The Master Gardener of the Year award went to Audrey Giles.
Silver Stars were awarded to Bob Bates, Paula Blevins-Russell, Lamar Giles, Kimberly Lynn, Anita McGee, and Ann Moore. Gold Stars were awarded to Treasia Bennett, Linda Hays, Lee Walters, and Wally Walters. A Gold Badge was awarded to Alice Broome (1000+ hours), and a Platinum Badge to Harriett Jackson (2000+ hours). The badges themselves will be presented at the AMGA conference.
The program was presented by MG Harriett Jackson on Butterfly gardening. Old and new business discussed was the upcoming Water Festival, items needed for Silent Auction basket for the AMGA conference, advisory council update, correctly reporting hours to service report site, fundraising ideas, upcoming tours, walking trail to be built at Minooka Park, propagation class at Petals, upcoming “Ask a Master Gardener” days at Garrison’s Farm and Home Supply, progress of 2017 intern class, update on registration for AMGA conference in Huntsville in May, and CCMGA being FIRST association in Alabama to use the e-newsletter! Here’s a SMILEBOX slideshow of photos from the program that day.
Several of the Chilton County Master Gardeners showed up at Jemison City Hall on November 22nd to plant all the flower planters that are around the building. Pansies and ornamental kale were planted that will be beautiful all winter long, as long as we don’t have an extremely cold winter. Not pictured, Sondra Henley and Audrey Giles.
Chilton County Master Gardeners hosted a “Home for the Holidays” fundraiser this year for the first time. Vice President Sondra Henley held the event at her house October 15, 2016. CCMGA partnered with Butterfly Bridge and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center in Clanton. There were many days of preparation which included cleaning, decorating, and displaying vendor’s items in the home. There was also a tasting table with all dishes prepared by some of the members. This included cream cheese cigar rolls with peach salsa, mini cold skewers, turnip green soup, Lee’s cornbread, Arnold Palmer tea, and peach upside down cake. A candy table ( all you could put in the box for $5.00) and raffle basket with all proceeds from these two going solely to Butterfly Bridge was very popular. Door prizes were drawn for every 15 minutes. We think the event was a success and plan to have it again in the future. Also for your enjoyment is a SMILEBOX to watch for more photos.
The Grand Opening of the Demo Garden was held August 6, 2016, just before the Farm, Home, and Wildlife Expo. On hand for the ceremony was Eagle Scout Clay Vinson, and Girl Scout Hannah Childress. Clay’s project for Eagle Scout was the Demo Garden’s Pergola and surrounding Butterfly Flowerbed. Hannah’s project for her Gold Badge was the Keyhole Garden. The Expo is always a big event that the Master Gardeners look forward to each year. Master Gardeners are in charge of the ice cream tasting, fruit tasting, corn on the cob hut, plant sale, and of course, the Demonstration Garden. Go to Smilebox to see a slideshow of photos from the Expo and Demo Garden.