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The sun warms white tulips and purple pansies and violas at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, where the Spring Festival of Flowers continues through April.
Daily photos by Patrice Stewart
The sun warms white tulips and purple pansies and violas at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, where the Spring Festival of Flowers continues through April.

botanical bliss
Don’t miss Spring Festival of Flowers, Sculpture Fest at Huntsville garden

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

What do mischievous sculptures, trillium and bonsai plants have in common?

They are among the new spring additions at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, where the Spring Festival of Flowers is under way through April.

Many events are planned in connection with the growing season, and butterflies and art will arrive in the garden in May.

A trillium plant with its white flower.
A trillium plant with its white flower.
Meanwhile, take advantage of this brief season when you can see blooming tulips, azaleas, dogwoods, violas, lotus blossoms, wildflowers and more all in one place. Garden personnel are waiting to see how the late cold snap will affect the blossoms, said spokesman John Hacker. Most plants are hardy and will show up anyway, because they have been waiting all winter to bloom and show off during the annual monthlong festival.

Trillium Garden

The new Trillium Garden officially opened April 1. What do trillium plants and flowers look like? If you go, you’ll learn more than expected about this plant, which resembles a small hosta, complete with white flower.

Harold Holmes, a garden volunteer who is a trillium expert, will be around the Trillium Garden, which is near the Wildflower Trail, often to explain about these plants. This is a National Trillium Collection Garden with displays about plantings and propagation.

“Twenty-two of the 29 species in the Eastern United States are represented here, and our goal is to have the largest collection of trillium anywhere,” said Holmes, while giving a tour and noon garden chat Wednesday.

Markers label the trillium, so you can easily spot the ones from Morgan County, as well as Madison, Jefferson, Cherokee and other Alabama locations. Then there are Texas, Ozark Dwarf and many other types.

Nearby, along the Wildflower Trail, you’ll spot companions to trillium that are already blooming: wild flame azaleas, pink and gold rhododendron, Blue Star, purple spiderwort, blue vernal iris, yellow coreopsis, blue lobelia and other plants.

Huntsville Botanical Garden has several other new features, in keeping with its slogan “There’s always something growing on.”

Bonsai garden

The new Washio Ishii Bonsai Garden is taking shape in the former butterfly house, which was replaced last year by a large Nature Center and butterfly habitat with waterfalls and streams. The garden has been cultivating bonsai plants for several years, and this area will include 12 to 14 bonsai trees and oriental accent pieces by the grand opening April 28-29, with a Bonsai Show and demonstrations by area Asian cultural societies.

Harold Holmes, a volunteer at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, can answer all your questions about trilliums at the Spring Festival of Flowers.
Harold Holmes, a volunteer at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, can answer all your questions about trilliums at the Spring Festival of Flowers.
Bonsai means a tree in a tray or pot, and the Living Art Bonsai Society meets at the garden at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month.

Another new feature, as part of the Year of the Arts celebration in Alabama, is a Sculpture Fest featuring Goblins in the Garden. On display in between the flowers and in the water gardens are “Mischievous,” “Snail Maker” and seven other cast bronze pieces by David Goode, a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors whose work reflects his love for myths, folklore and the writing of Tolkien.

First presented at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, Goode’s sculptures created with a “lost wax” technique are on display through June and for sale through an arrangement with Carolyn Crow and Pablo’s on Market in Athens.

For seniors and others who may have difficulty walking through the garden, five-passenger shuttles with drivers can be reserved by calling 830-4447.

The gift shop offers many gardening and flower-related items, and guests can have lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday at Clementine’s in the Garden.

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