Friday, December 31, 2010

Our Top 10 of 2010

How original, right? A countdown of the year's top moments! Don't run away though, there's some good stuff in here, some that you may not know about. Things that make a real impact on real people in Birmingham and beyond! So without further adieu, here are my top 10 moments in 2010...

10) Another Record-Breaking Fall Plant Sale

After a two-day trial run in 2009 (which set the sales record for the event), we decided to stick with the new Saturday/Sunday schedule and boy did it pay off! This past Fall Plant Sale was the biggest yet with over 3,700 shoppers helping us raise more than $36,000. And props to all of the volunteers who helped us with setup, growing, selling, cashiering, loading and any other task you can imagine!

9) John Manion Named Curator of the Kaul Wildflower Garden

Ok, so when we hired John as our new curator of the Kaul Wildflower Garden earlier this year, we had no clue what we were in store for! John has turned out to be a fantastic asset for The Gardens! He actively recruits new volunteers for his workdays, he writes his own newsletter, Botanically Speaking, on natives, and he's even a big help to the development team developing relationships with donors.

8) Bridge of Accomplishment Restored

Our Japanese Gardens got a bit of a makeover in the spring with the painting and restoration of the Bridge of Accomplishment, better known as the "zig zag bridge," over Long Life Lake. If you haven't seen it, I suggest taking a stroll in mid- to late-March or anytime in the spring to see the cherry blossoms!

7) Garden Dirt Wins Platinum Creative Award, Again

Birmingham Botanical Gardens once again represented Alabama quite well in AMCP's (Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals) Hermes Creative Awards. We brought home Platinum in the newsletter category for Garden Dirt and gold in the e-newsletter category for Dirt E-lert. Birmingham Botanical Gardens was the only botanical garden or arboretum to win a Platinum Hermes Creative Award; The University of Alabama was the only other Alabama institution to win a platinum award in 2010.

6) Junior Board Launched

The inaugural Junior Board of Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens met on February 23 at Jackson's Bar & Bistro in Homewood. At this first meeting the Junior Board named officers (Miller Allen, president; Ashley Gassner, vice-president; and Dionne Burks, secretary) and began planning for their future. So far this year the group has hosted a Family & Friends Mixer at the home of Cathy Adams on top of Red Mountain and is now planning for a very exciting event in the Japanese Gardens. (Shh, that's all I can tell you for now...I've already said too much!)

5) Volunteers of the Year Honored

The Friends hosts the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon every December to pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who give their time and talent to make us successful each and every year. During the luncheon we also dole out the Volunteer of the Year awards; we added a fifth award to the slate this year: the A. Brand Walton Unsung Hero award for outstanding service behind the scenes. The 2010 Volunteers of the Year are Fox 6 (Community Partner); Carol Hinshaw (Educator); Dr. Ed Fineberg (Plantsperson); Plant Sale Treasurers Cathy Canant, Terri DiMuro, Jeanon Massien, and the late Teresa Neal (A. Brand Walton Unsung Hero); and Dr. John A. Floyd (Ida C. Burns Volunteer of the Year).

4) Antiques at The Gardens Turns Five

This past October we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Antiques at The Gardens by rolling out the red carpet at the Sterne Agee First Look Party. Lecturers Miles Redd and DeJuan Stroud provided opportunities to learn and laugh and dozens of dealers provided hordes of goodies for homeowners, decorators and architects. All told the event raised more than $290,000 to support educational programs at The Gardens, bringing the five year total to over $1.6 million.

3) Spring Plant Sale Smashes Attendance Record

More than 7,400 folks came out to Colonial Brookwood Village for the Spring Plant Sale, making it the most attended plant sale in the history of The Gardens. The 2010 Spring Plant Sale did not disappoint in fundraising either, raising over $262,000!

2) New Master Plan Unveiled to Public

On March 25, 2010, Executive Director Fred Spicer and Scott Scarfone of Oasis Design Group revealed The Gardens' new Master Plan. The new vision for Birmingham Botanical Gardens includes new gardens (like a Persian-themed garden), creation of event and education spaces (such as completion of the Arrington Plant Adventure Zone), and long-term fixes to facility issues (accessibility, stormwater drainage and parking). Stay tuned for projects as they get underway!

And now, the moment you've been waiting for...#1!

1) YOU!

Because of you, our readers, Facebook fans, donors, members, volunteers, visitors and other supporters, we have not laid off a single person or cut a single program! 2010 wasn't the year that we smashed all fundraising records, but we succeeded in so many big ways (see above!) during an otherwise very difficult year, and it was because of you. We gave free, science-based field trips to 10,000 schoolchildren again, and provided educational opportunities to tens of thousands of adults and children. We may not be fending off takeovers by Google like some companies, but we feel good about what we've accomplished over the past 12 months, and we could not have done it without each and every one of you. Thank you, and happy new year!

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