MBG is thankful for our wonderful volunteers

With the Thanksgiving Day holiday this week, it is an appropriate time for all of us at Montgomery Botanical Gardens to express our thanks for our volunteers. Without their diligent efforts and faithful service, the gardens would not be the beautiful oasis of nature in this urban area that it is today. 

Master Gardeners from the Capital City Master Gardener Association continue to be our main source of volunteers and they come with a great deal of horticultural knowledge that enable them to help us develop and care for the gardens effectively. Karin Carmichael, a member of CCMGA, chairs the MBG Project Committee that created and maintains the circular entrance beds, the three pollinator beds, the bulb garden, the sensory garden, and also helps in all areas of the gardens. We are grateful for her leadership and the committee members who faithfully do their part. 

Volunteers from other areas of the community are also of great help to our efforts. Recently a very productive group from Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood arrived with wheelbarrows, gloves and shovels ready to work In a few hours they finished installing the granite ballast stone edging along the pathways and around garden beds to enhance their appearance and prevent erosion. In addition to the edging, they helped with removing limbs and damaged items from the garden, uncovering a sidewalk that had been covered by soil; and digging holes and planting hundreds of daffodil bulbs. This group that was coordinated by Wheeler Crook are very much appreciated by all of us at the gardens. 

Volunteers from the community are vital to the success of MBG. Ethel Boykin, MBG Volunteer Coordinator, will welcome volunteers to perform a variety of tasks that benefit the gardens. Those who are interested in volunteering may visit www.montgomerybotanicalgardens.com and send a message to let us know of your interest. 

The Board of Directors of the Montgomery Botanical Gardens wish a very happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Bulb Planting and Perennials to be Subject of Final 2023 Montgomery Botanical Gardens Class

The final 2023 educational offering for Montgomery  Botanical Gardens at Oak Park will be a class on Bulb Planting and Perennials, to be held on Saturday, November 4 in the Wisdom Wood Outdoor Classroom at 10:00 AM. The class will be taught by Karen Weber, a member of the Capitol City Master Gardeners.

Mrs. Weber is a native of the farmland of central Ohio, where she received a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from the Ohio State University. Immediately thereafter, she moved to tropical South Florida, where she felt totally at a loss in the northern Palm Beach County plant world, while working as a gardener for renowned golfer and avid tropical plant collector, Jack Nicklaus.

Thirty years ago, Mrs. Weber and her husband and three children relocated to Montgomery. She worked as a gardener on the private estate of Wynton Blount and later as a gardener at the Shakespeare Garden, located at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival when it was installed in 1999. She was a founding member of the Capitol City Master Gardener Association.

Included in the presentation will be types of bulbs and perennials that grow well in our local climate, as well as information on when and where to plant them. She will also address preparing the soil and how to plant for optimum growth.

The class is free and open to the public. Seating is available, but participants may wish to bring folding chairs for comfort. Water will be available.

The 2024 Montgomery Botanical Gardens Calendar of Classes should be available in late December or early January.

Gardening Calendar

October to late December is the time to plant bulbs here in Alabama.

Good Bulb Choices

Megan Jones, an Alabama Extension home grounds, gardens and home pests agent, said the first step is deciding which to plant.

“Daffodils or narcissus are favorites in the South because they thrive even in our warm winters,” Jones said. “Daffodils come in a huge variety of colors, flower sizes and shapes and mature plant sizes. There is a choice for every garden spot.”

She adds that other good choices include alliums, crocuses, Dutch iris and squills (Scilla varieties).

“While many people love tulips, people should be prepared to treat them as an annual and replant them every fall,” she said. “Alabama winters are not cold enough for tulips to rebloom. For best results, buy pre-chilled tulip bulbs and plant in late December through January.”

Buying and Storing Bulbs

When buying bulbs, check their firmness. Also, buy early to get the best selections available.

“Another consideration is bulb size,” Jones said. “Generally, the bigger the bulb is, the bigger the flower is.”

Keep bulbs cool until planting time. Chilling bulbs in the refrigerator is a good option, but do not store them near fruits which can release gases that reduce blooms. It is best to store bulbs in a mesh bag.

Planting

plant spring bulbsJones said that most bulbs prefer growing conditions in acidic, nutrient-rich and well-draining soils that experience full to partial sun.

“Wet, soggy soils can cause bulbs to rot,” Jones said. “You may need to add organic matter to heavy clay soils. Even if you have a well draining sandy soil, adding additional organic material will increase the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients.”

Jones said conducting a soil test to determine exactly what the plants need is always a good idea. County Extension offices can help gardeners with information on how to take a soil sample and submit it for analysis.

According to Jones, different bulbs require different planting depths.

“Consult the packaging information on your bulbs for specific depth,” she said. “A good rule of thumb is to plant the bulb in a hole three times as deep as the size of the bulb. Plant with the narrow end, or the nose, of the bulb pointing up.”

Cover planted bulbs with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Mulch will help reduce soil compaction, regulate soil temperature, limit moisture loss and prevent weeds. Remember to water at planting to settle the soil and provide the right conditions for improved root development.

More Information

For more information about gardening, visit the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Information gathered from Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Lichen on Trees and Shrubs

Lichens are often blamed for the decline and death of shrubs and trees in Alabama landscapes. This is not too surprising because these unusual plantlike organisms are commonly seen on the exposed limbs and trunks of declining or dead shrubs and trees, especially azaleas, dogwoods, and pecans. Lichens are not responsible for the poor top growth or death of shrubs and trees. Instead, their appearance is often related to damage from environmental stress or poor management. Exposed limbs on damaged plants simply give lichens access to the sunlight they need for growth with little competition.

These often inconspicuous, hardy, and adaptive plantlike organisms are composed of two fungi and a green alga. This union or symbiosis produces a long-lived organism that does not look like the fungal or algal partners, all of which contribute to the growth of the lichen. The alga uses photosynthesis, like other plants, to produce food while the fungus supplies water and essential minerals and produces a structure that protects the alga from extreme environmental conditions. Together they thrive in some of the harshest environments on earth where few other plants and neither partner alone can survive.

Lichens colonize a wide range of exposed surfaces of limbs, stumps, fence posts, soil, rocks, and other living and nonliving objects. Lichens are firmly attached to these hard surfaces. They are most numerous on limbs and trunks of large mature trees and shrubs in full sun, particularly those plants with badly thinned canopies. Most lichens will not thrive on heavily shaded twigs and branches of healthy woody plants. Few lichens are found in areas with high levels of ozone, sulfur dioxide, acid rain, and other common air pollutants. Consequently, lichens are a good indicator of air quality.

Lichens are not generally considered plant pathogens. Lichenized forms (Strigula spp.) of the green alga Cephaleuros are plant pathogens. Strigula spp. is the causal agent of algal leaf spot of camellia, southern magnolia, and other shrubs although southern magnolia and camellia are the most common hosts. On leaves of camellia and southern magnolia, the lichen Strigula appears as numerous small gray-white crusty spots (figure 4), which later turn yellow and are shed. Leaf spotting and premature leaf shed may be unsightly, but this disease is not a threat to plant health.

Lichens are an indication of poor plant health. Good plant vigor is the best defense against the presence of lichens. Heavy infestations of lichens are most common on shrubs and trees in declining or poor health due to other factors. Following recommended establishment, watering, and fertility practices will promote the development of a thick leaf canopy, which will inhibit lichen growth on twigs and limbs. Better growing conditions and soil fertility may stimulate new plant growth and ultimately suppress the lichens. Light pruning of affected limbs will remove some lichens and stimulate new shoot growth that may help shade out the remaining lichens. Trees and shrubs in extremely poor condition will often not respond to better care and should be replaced. Refer to Extension publications “Pruning Ornamental Plants” (ANR-0258) and “Planting and Establishing Woody Landscape Plants” (ANR-0410) for additional information on pruning, planting, and maintaining shrubs and trees.

No pesticides are currently registered for the control of lichens commonly found on the twigs and branches of shrubs and trees. Kocide 2000 or Kalmore (1 level tablespoon per gallon) will control the lichen (algal) leaf spot caused by Strigula spp. on southern magnolia when applied every 7 to 14 days, starting with the unfurling of new leaves. Continue sprays until the leaves mature.

 

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