Spring comes to Master Gardener’s demo garden

Published 8:57 am Friday, April 7, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Flowers are starting to open and plants are coming alive at the Chilton County Master Gardener’s demonstration garden.

The garden serves as an outdoor learning experience highlighting different plants and techniques. It is an ongoing project for the group and changes just a little each year.

Irises have been added to the herb garden this year with their bright yellow flowers complementing the purple hue of nearby lavender. Henley said the root of certain varieties of iris can be used for medicinal purposes.

“The lavender can be used for many, many thing, especially the oils … it helps you relax and it also heals,” President Sondra Henley said.

The verdict is still out on whether the garden’s passion flower vine will grow back.

“It has tried to come out several times. I don’t know if we are losing it or if it’s going to come out again,” Henley said.

An Azalea is sprouting in the rock garden.

Gem boxwood bushes outlining the design of the knot garden have been trimmed to promote lateral growth. This season Daffodils are featured inside the design. Henley said the plants featured in this garden change with the season.

Henley is excited about the growth of plants in the shade garden. This garden features evergreen clematis, confederate jasmine, Carolina Jasmine and a hummingbird attracting plant growing up fences to provide shade for a seating area.

“We are real proud of this [evergreen clematis] because it is very hard to grow,” Henley said.

Henley said a tunnel garden will be added to the varieties showcased this year as a part of a Girl Scout’s silver project.

In the native Alabama plants garden, the caretaker is waiting to see what will sprout before she does anything.

“It’s not quite warm enough, yet,” Henley said.  “This particular season has been a real teaser: hot, cold, hot, cold. Our poor plants are not quite sure [what to do].”

Changes are coming to the butterfly garden this season also. Harriett Jackson said the garden will be updated to remove any plants that are not on the list for certified butterfly gardens. The plants are meant to attract as many of Alabama’s more than 80 types on butterflies to the garden as possible.

Certification requires having host and nectar plants.

“Nectar plants are where they eat and host is where they lay their babies,” Jackson said.

Plans are being made for later in the year to get a count of how many butterflies frequent the garden.

The garden also features a plaque of the flight cycle of the monarch butterfly.

Jackson said the flowers also attract other pollinators, such as bees.

During a recent workday, Master Gardeners were removing weeds and checking on plants.

Volunteer Alan Reed was working on protecting plants from fire ants. Reed said the group is careful about the pesticides it uses because it is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and a Certified Butterfly Garden.

Now that plants have begun to bloom, the garden will look a little different every few weeks, according to Henley.

The Demo Garden is open to the public and located at 120 County Road 756 near the Chilton Research and Extension Center in Clanton.