What Is Birmingham Gardening Today?

For over 30 years I have been gardening–and learning about gardening–in the Birmingham metro area. One thing I know for sure is that good gardening information is very local. Yet, there is no local source where we can post all types of information for the beginning gardener, the homeowner who just wants a nice looking yard, and of course the experienced gardener.

  • The design of this site is quite simple. I will post things I do on a daily or weekly basis in my garden, or things I observe others doing in the section, “To Do Now.” And I hope you will add things you are doing in your yard or garden now, too.
  • The “In Bloom” section not only lets us know what’s in bloom now, but is also a place to note good cultural information on the plants shown.
  • I hope we will all contribute to the “At the Shops” section, where we can let folks know what is available in the Birmingham area. We also hope to alert you to good deals, like the best place to buy a plant or garden supplies.
  • Finally, “Ask John” is your section to ask me about gardening and yard advice. I will help if I can, but I am hoping–on things I don’t have good answers to–that others will contribute and help you answer your questions. So as you use Birmingham Gardening Today, please let us know what you like or hate, and please spread the word about this site where we can grow our circle of gardeners. And always remember, just like your garden, we are always a work in progress.

About John Floyd

John Floyd has been interested in gardening since he was a young boy. His interest blossomed when the family moved out of town to the community of Potters Station, Alabama. With a new house and a large lot, his parents allowed him to not only grow roses but encouraged him to start a small lawn business while he was in high school. Also, the minister at their small country church grafted and grew roses for cut flowers. Learning how to graft from him was his first introduction to the science of horticulture.

After high school, John entered Auburn University and majored in Ornamental Horticulture. While at Auburn, he held part time jobs over the years in the horticulture department, at Auburn Flower Shop, and Hall’s Wholesale Florist. Also while at Auburn, he was honored to do an internship at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Upon graduation from Auburn, John entered Clemson University and received a Master’s in Horticulture with a minor in Plant Taxonomy and a PhD in Plant Physiology with a double minor in horticulture and botany. During his time at Clemson, he had small landscape design business.

Upon completion, John accepted a position at Jefferson State Junior College to teach horticulture. He continued his landscape design business until he joined Southern Living as Senior Horticulturist. After working for Southern Living‘s parent company in various positions, he was named Vice President and Editor-In-Chief for 18 years. During that time, he received an honorary doctorate from Furman University in 2008 for helping conceptualize and develop a model house for sustainability, which currently houses the Department that was established for sustainability studies. He held that position until he retired in 2008, all the while gardening and keeping records of what he did in his garden.

The Southern Living garden book line was introduced under his tenure, and the Southern Living plant collection was also launched during that period. Today he gardens on a typical subdivision lot and volunteers at the Birmingham Botanical Garden weekly with a group of the “Gardening Docs” who help maintain the Japanese Garden.

About Jason Burnett

Jason Burnett is the founding editor of MyRecipes.com, a top-five food destination in comScore, and the only digital brand that brings together more than 70,000 recipes from America’s favorite publications including All You, Coastal Living, Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Health, Real Simple, Southern Living, Sunset and Oxmoor House books.

In addition to his role as editor of MyRecipes, Jason was Senior Content Director in the Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital group, reviewing the full scope of the company’s digital food content strategy – product and content development, marketing and promotion, programming and production for all digital platforms.

Prior to MyRecipes launch in 2007, Jason spent 3 years as Online Editorial Director, working with the digital teams across Southern Progress Corporation brands and leading programming on AOL Food and AOL Home.   Before that, he worked as Editor of CookingLight.com, served on business development teams, and was a contributor to Southern Living, Coastal Living, Cooking Light, Southern Living Vacations and other Time Inc. publications.

Jason graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a double major in English and history.   He is the author of Early Bessemer, a photographic history of Bessemer, Alabama’s first fifty years.   Follow Jason’s cooking and dining obsessions on Instagram @WayTasty.

34 thoughts on “What Is Birmingham Gardening Today?

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  7. Love that I stumbled onto your site, all because of search for comparing pine bark versus pine straw for mulch. I’ll go with the straw! Retirement has resurrected my time in the yard in Birmingham. While my yard has been way untended for several years, the Lady Banks is beautiful (trellis repair helped), the Brugmansia (angel trumpet) is getting attention and growing, and the cleome volunteers are sprouting–extras to share with neighbors. I’ll be following–and have questions about stuff like composting and what flowers/shrubs/etc. really work naturally in Birmingham.

  8. Hi John. So glad to see you sharing your extraordinary knowledge to help the community grow. What is your favorite medium sized (3″ height at maturity) ornamental grass for Zone 7b?

    • Did you mean 3 inches or 3 feet? If it is 3 inches, I don’t even know of a blue fescue that grows only 3 inches tall. So the only thing I know that would stay that low is a Mondo grass selection called ‘Koyto Dwarf,’ which we have here at the Botanical Gardens and should do fine in your area. If it is three feet, that is much easier. I really like the smaller growing Miscanthus types (also called silver grass), especially the selection ‘Yaku Jima,’ which appears here in stores in early summer. It has beautiful plumes and colorful fall foliage.

  9. Hi John! So glad to find you here…you are a gardening treasure. My question is about my New Dawn roses, which were planted last summer to grow on a new trellis. Only spindly shoots grew up and looked diseased. I pruned them back. What can I do this spring to help them come back healthier? And what should I do to help train them until they are tall enough to reach the trellis?

    • I grew New Dawn running roses for many years. Once established, they are very vigorous, but it sounds like you need to give them another season before they will really grow enough to fill the trellis. Once the foliage appears, be sure to fertilize them with a good nitrogen-based fertilizer like 12-6-6. As for the diseased leaves, it was probably black spot, which is very common on most roses. To control this, use an all-purpose rose spray that says controls black spot on the label. Read what to spray, and follow all label direction

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  11. Nice website and very helpful. I’ll see in a couple of suggestions by email. However here is a question for a sample test.

    I appreciate the article on camellias and my camellias are blooming. When they have completed blooming I want to prune some of the top so that they will not grow so tall. I am talking about pruning a few inches. Am I choosing the right time to prune and at what point on the stem do I cut?

    • If you are just trying to just prune them to reduce the height it is a great time to do it right after they finish blooming. I, often times, cheat and cut them while in bloom where I can enjoy the cut branches full of flowers indoors.

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