Entries in Aldridge gardens (7)

Sunday
Jan252015

Wonderful Winterberry

It was a cold, drizzly day at nearby Aldridge Gardens. A bright red color near the lake caught my attention; and when I investigated, I found a colony of Ilex verticillata, or American winterberry, glowing in the damp, gray air.

Winterberries are deciduous hollies native to eastern North America from Texas to Florida, north to southeastern Canada. They are an important food source for numerous birds, including American robins, bluebirds, bluejays, cedar waxwings and many others. A flock of birds may descend on a winterberry bush and and strip it of its berries in one boisterous banquet! Many mammals, such as raccoons, squirrels and rabbits, also enjoy the fruit.

These are tough, easy-to-grow shrubs. Growing in full sun to partial shade, they love wet, acidic soil but will adapt to other conditions. They can do well in average garden soil. In wet soil they may sucker and produce colonies.

Like many other hollies, winterberries are dioecious, needing separate male and female plants to produce berries. They may blend into their surroundings much of the year; but their bright berries persist on bare branches long after their leaves have fallen, and they can be spectacular in the winter landscape, at least until the birds get them.

Here are another couple of views of the winterberries at Aldridge Gardens:

There are many cultivars of Ilex verticillata available. They can vary in form and size from about three feet up to sixteen feet at maturity. Berry color can also vary. 'Winter Gold' is a female cultivar that reaches about five to eight feet.

Winterberries can be a highlight of the winter garden; and if (when) your feathered friends discover them, watching all those happy birds can be a thrill, as well.

Sunday
Feb022014

Snowbound at Aldridge Gardens

I have heard many stories of people who were caught in last Tuesday's snowstorm that shut down Birmingham and all of its surrounding areas, but Audrey Ann Wilson has to be one of the more fortunate ones who were snowbound away from home. She is the Education Coordinator at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama and was at work when the snow started coming down. Shortly after she left her office, she realized she would not be able to make it home; so she decided to stay overnight at the Gardens inside the Eddie and Kay Aldridge Art and Historical Collections Museum. Not a bad place to be snowbound! The Museum once was the personal home of Eddie and Kay Aldridge.

With a kitchen with some frozen meals in the freezer, as well as some chairs, some tablecloths and a huge drop cloth with which to fashion a bed, Audrey Ann was much more comfortable than the poor souls trapped on the highways. Best of all, she had her camera! Aldridge Gardens is a 30 acre woodland retreat, tucked away only moments from the busiest shopping malls and roads in Hoover. Audrey Ann has given me permission to tell her story and to share her photos of Aldridge Gardens in the snow, a sight we don't often get to see. Enjoy!

Aldridge gardens is home to the largest publicly available collection of Frank Fleming bronze sculptures, including the pieces shown above.

You can learn more about Aldridge Gardens and see more of Audrey Ann's snowy photos at Aldridge Gardens.com.