Monday, October 12, 2009

Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Local Garden Clubs Reforest George Ward Park

Little Garden Club and Red Mountain Garden Club are teaming up with Birmingham Botanical Gardens and holding a tree planting ceremony at George Ward Park on Saturday, October 24 at 8 a.m. to reforest what is considered the gem of the Birmingham park system. The Garden Club of America (GCA) issued a challenge to its affiliated clubs across the nation to develop and enact a project in their local community focusing on trees to celebrate and honor 100th anniversary in 2013.

The Garden Club of America itself is doing a renovation project in New York City's Central Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr. The city of Birmingham commissioned his son, Frederick Olmstead, Jr., to develop the Birmingham park system, beginning with the "naturalistic" Green Spring Park, now known as George Ward Park. Since the creation of the park, however, not one native seedling has been able to take root and mature because of the poor soil conditions and erosion problems in the park.

Henry Hughes, director of education at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, has been collecting and germinating blackjack oak, post oak and red hickory seeds from the older park trees for the past two years for future planting. Part of the project includes scattering clippings and brush throughout the park to regenerate the soil’s organic nutrients; it is believed that seeds from the native trees will eventually germinate naturally, initiating the forest’s self-regeneration over time. Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the Glen Iris Neighborhood Association and Friends of George Ward Park are also contributing to the project.

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