JeffCo H20:Rock, paper, garden

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner.  But along with warmer days come issues like bare patches, aggressive weeds, soggy spots, and soaring water bills.  Before using yard chemicals to control pesky plants, giving up on too wet or bare areas, or dragging out the hose to water the landscape yet again, you might want to consider some stormwater friendly low maintenance options.

Bare, sloped or otherwise hard to maintain areas easily can be transformed into a yard feature by installing a rock garden.  If you don’t already have appropriate rocks in your yard, you can purchase them at a home and garden store.  Properly installed, the rock will help reduce weeds, hold in moisture, and stabilize the soil.  When choosing plants for your rock garden, make sure that they are suited for our local conditions, and all have similar water and sun requirements.

Rock Garden

A rock garden can help tame a difficult to maintain area of your landscape

You already may have a weed control solution at your home and don’t know it.  Correctly applied, layers of newspaper are an inexpensive and easy way to prevent weeds.  Spread the newspaper about 10 sheets thick over the soil and overlap the layers by several inches to eliminate gaps.  Work newspaper around existing plants, or poke holes in the newspaper to install new plants.  Gently spray the newspapers with water until they are soaked, then lightly cover with leaves or other mulch to give a uniform appearance and help hold the sheets in place.  The newspaper will prevent weeds from springing up, help keep soil moist and cool during the growing season, and add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

Newspaper

Newspapers are an inexpensive, chemical free way to control weeds.

A rain garden is a great remedy for depressions (in your yard that is).  Placing water loving plants in low lying areas will help soak up the sogginess and create a beautiful and colorful area.  Installing a rain barrel to collect rainwater from your roof is an easy way to store up rainy day resources and reduce the cost of watering thirsty areas of your yard.  Rain barrels can be purchased at home and garden stores, ordered online, or homemade from food quality plastic drums.

What’s Happening?

Household Hazardous Waste Day – April 26 – Get ready to bring your HHW to McLendon Park (Legion Field), Birmingham from 8 to11 am.  Proper disposal will be available for paint, auto and alkaline batteries, used motor oil, electronics, ammunition, white goods, and paper shredding.  This event is free and open to all residents of Jefferson County.

Birmingham E-Cycling Day – May 8 Here’s another chance to properly dispose of your old, broken, or unwanted electronics.  Bring them to Linn Park from 8 am to 12 noon for recycling. Items accepted include personal computers, televisions, monitors, VCRs, stereos, DVD players, microwaves, phones, laptops, keyboards, mice, printers, ink/toner cartridges, remote controls, modems, projectors, and cameras. This event is free and open to citizens of the Birmingham Metro Area.   Call 787-5222 for more information.

Alabama Master Gardeners Helpline – Help for your home gardening challenges is just a phone call away!  Dial 1-877-252-GROW and select option 3 to speak to a master gardener volunteer serving the Birmingham area.

Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203
205.325.8741

 

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Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Post Creek War Settlement

This month’s blog will continue our exploration of the early history of northeastern Jefferson on the “triangle” in and around the Pinson area made up of the respective parts of Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair Counties. Anyone with a weather radio can attest to the aggravation that occurs when you adjust your settings to include all three counties… During a good round of thunderstorms, it is hard to get any peace and quiet. In the same way that weather is no respecter of county lines, neither were our forebears to Pinson and surrounding areas.

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1818 Map of Alabama depicting county arrangements

            The Treaty of Fort Jackson effectively ended the Creek War in 1814 and opened what is now the state of Alabama to settlement by the soldiers and settlers who had come from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia to fight in the Creek War of 1813-14. When the war ended, they returned to take advantage of lands ceded to the United States by Native-Americans. As the population grew, the need for governmental infrastructure led to more counties being created in a relatively short period.

Blount County was created by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on February 6, 1818, formed from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814 and was named for GovernorWillie Blount of Tennessee, who provided significant assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War. Blount County lies in what is known as the mineral region of Alabama. Last month’s blog introduced Caleb Friley and John Jones, who established Jonesborough, near current day Bessemer. As with other settlers coming into the area, Jones and Friley first came down the Huntsville Road from Tennessee into what is now Blount and Jefferson County. They established Bear Meat Cabin in 1816. In April of 1816, Rev. Ebenezer Hearn preached his first sermon here, signaling the beginning of Methodism in central Alabama. A post office was opened in 1821, and the settlement was incorporated as Blountsville in December of 1827.

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Ole Bear Meat Cabin.  (Junior Blount County Historical Society/BhamWiki)

            Originally part of Blount County, Jefferson County was established on December 13, 1819, named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The following day, December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state in the Union. The county is located on the southernmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains and lies in the center of what was the iron, coal, and limestonemining belt of the Southern US. Long before Birmingham was founded in 1871, the county seat of Jefferson County was located in Carrollsville (near Princeton Hospital on Birmingham’s west end) from 1819 to 1821. Elyton was the county seat from 1821 to 1873, when it was usurped by the new city of Birmingham.

Village Springs, the first settlement in the Pinson area, more or less straddles the Jefferson and Blount county lines. Along with Palmerdale, Remlap is also named for the area’s Palmer family. Remlap is “Palmer” spelled backwards (some stories tell of some alleged disagreement that forced the communities to separate). Clay and Argo meet near where Jefferson and St. Clair counties meet.

St. Clair County was established on November 20, 1818 by splitting off from Shelby County. The county is named in honor of General Arthur St. Clair, who came to America from Scotland as an officer in the British Army in the French and Indian War and later served as a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

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General Arthur St. Clair

            Originally called St. Clairsville, Ashville, the county seat, was named for John Ash, a senator in the state’s first General Assembly. In 1836, a portion of St. Clair County was separated to establish Cherokee County and DeKalb County. In 1866, after the Civil War, a northeast section of the county was used to create Etowah County. St. Clair currently has county seats in both Ashville and Pell City, making it one of two counties in Alabama, and one of 33 in the US, with more than one county seat.

 

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

-E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

 

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The Darter Festival

The Darter Festival is a lively celebration of the Watercress Darter—a gorgeous fish that lives in Birmingham and nowhere else in the world! The Darter Festival will be held on Saturday, April 5th from 11 am to 4 pm at Railroad Park. We will feature performances by blues pianist Clay Swafford, rising indie stars The Heavy Hearts, and world music and dance with Jon Scalici and Erynias Tribe. Good People Brewing Company will feature the limited edition Darter Spring Ale, and the Fish Market will provide specialty dishes and a children’s menu. There will also be kite flying, darter art, and a Watercress Darter Photo Booth, sponsored by the Alumni Association of Birmingham-Southern College. The Darter Festival is free and open to the public. Proceeds benefit the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College and the Railroad Park Foundation. VIP packages are available by calling 205-226-7740 or going to http://www.bsc.edu/sec/darterfest.cfm

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JeffCo H2O: Square Peg, Round Hole

 

You saw a picture of what you consider to be the perfect yard and can’t seem to get it out of your mind – lush weed-free turf, abundant blooming flowers, and perfectly pruned shrubs.  You say to yourself: “I don’t care how much work or money it would take to have a yard that looks like that – it would be worth it!”  It’s easy to get carried away by the standards set in those pristine (and probably enhanced) photos you see in magazines.   Trying to force a set of standards on your landscape when natural conditions, your time, or your resources make it impossible for your yard to live up to those standards can be counterproductive, time consuming, expensive, and filled with seemingly endless tasks: watering, fertilizing, raking, spraying, clipping, bagging…the list goes on. 

Usually when we try to interfere with our landscape’s natural balance and attempt to take over what would best be left to nature, we are in effect trying to put that square peg (the perfect yard in the picture) in a round hole (the realities of our yard).  Our efforts inevitably set off a series of necessary and expensive ‘fixes’ which can include overuse of yard chemicals and extensive watering requirements.

Spring is nearly here and the frigid unpredictable winter weather of January and February  is safely in the past (we hope).  This is a great time to take stock of your landscape and consider making choices that follow the path of least resistance.  By letting the conditions in your yard – sun, shade, wet, dry, flat, sloped – dictate what grows where, you will go a long way toward creating a lovely and low maintenance yard.  You may want to read the wonderful 12 Lessons Learned by John Manion, Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, to learn more about working with and appreciating the uniqueness of your yard.

12 Lessons Learned

By John Manion

Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

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After many years of several types of gardening in many different locations, I have developed the following list of lessons I have learned that may be used to establish, preserve, or maintain a healthy and sustainable ecosystem:

  1. Work with what you have – versus trying to impose your wants on your landscape. If you have sun, plant sun loving plants; if you have poor drainage, plant species that like wet feet from time-to-time.
  2. Take your cues from nature; it knows how to do it best. Use native plants; they already know what to do!
  3. Develop an intimate relationship with your landscape over time. Study factors such as its light, moisture, and air flow.
  4. Think of your property as a stepping-stone, or corridor for wildlife – and thus provide safe passage.
  5. Plant a variety of plant species and group several of each species together. Many plants are reputed to repel certain pests and pathogens and larger clumps attract beneficial insects more effectively.
  6. Learn which plants are hosts to desired insects and animals, and then plant them in groupings of several plants.
  7. Always include a source of water, whether it is a bird bath, a pond, or a rock with an indentation that holds water.
  8. Avoid dedicating large areas to plants that require significant use of chemicals and/or fertilizers, such as lawns. Keep in mind that monocultures (an entire area with a single plant species) are host to a reduced variety of beneficial organisms.
  9. Avoid extensive use of synthetic fertilizers and significantly limit, or even consider ceasing, the use of chemically based herbicides and pesticides.
  10. Remember that many of the most beneficial organisms are microscopic, so maintain healthy soil.
  11. Compost, compost, compost! I believe that making and applying your own compost is the single best thing you can do for your landscape. Its benefits are countless.
  12. Be a lifelong learner and take advantage of the countless sources of information…online, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, public gardens, libraries, Master Gardeners and other plant groups.

What’s Happening?

Come on out to the Brown Bag Seminar Series, co-sponsored by Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Jefferson County Storm Water Management. This nine seminar series, which runs March through August, is free with no reservations required and light refreshments provided.  For more information, call 325-8741.

Upcoming seminars include:

Trees and Shrubs – March 26, Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  (Auditorium) Find out why planting the right plant in the right place at the right time makes all the difference!  Instructor: Mike Rushing

Eat Your Yard – April 2, Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  (Auditorium) Discover how to incorporate fruits, vegetables and herbs into your existing landscape.  Instructor: William Randle

Medicinal Gardening – April 9, Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  (Ireland Room)  Learn about herbal medicines and how to include them in your garden and everyday life.  Instructor: Cameron Strouss

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Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203
205.325.8741
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TCNP Currents: Turkey Creek Nature Preserve visitor Questionnaire

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is still relatively new, in fact, we celebrate our 5th year in operation this year! We have a lot of plans in the works to provide new opportunities for the public to enjoy the Preserve. To help us with our planning, we wanted to give you the opportunity to let us know what you think. Below is a link to a survey. This survey will help us to better understand how you use the Preserve, and how we can continue to improve it.

Click Here to start survey!

If we get enough responses, for next month’s column, I will address some of the more popular questions or concerns that come up. So, if you have something to say, now is the time!

Thank you so much for your support.

Until then, we’ll see ya downstream!

Charles Yeager

Manager, Turkey Creek Nature Preserve
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Exploring Pinson’s Legacy: Early Settlements

The history of what we now know as Pinson extends beyond the borders of our town… Geographically, it encompasses the entirety of the northeastern part of Jefferson County. When we examine the footprint over time, we see that it existed before there was a Jefferson County (Jefferson County was originally part of Blount County) actually; even before there was a state of Alabama.

These neighboring communities and Pinson developed from the same pages of US history – soldiers and settlers moving through the area as they moved southward from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Predominantly, they came first with military or volunteer forces joining the Creek War effort or later, taking advantage of lands forcibly ceded to the United States by Native-Americans.

Indian Cessions 1830-1834

In what was termed the “Great Migration”, veterans and others surged into Alabama. They were awed by the plentiful natural resources, rich soil, clear water, and moderate weather that bode well for future farming and settlement. In addition, what is now northeastern Jefferson County enjoyed an abundance of raw materials needed for the forging of iron and steel. The state’s population swelled from approximately 9,000 in 1810 to over 145,000 in 1820.

alabama settlers

Among the first settlers to our area were John Jones and Caleb Friley. Relatives by marriage, these ironsmiths from Tennessee traveled down the Huntsville Road in about 1815 with the throngs of others looking for opportunities in this new land. Jones and Friley had both been with Jackson’s West Tennessee Militia that marched through the territory in 1813. Jones and his family eventually settled in what is now Bessemer, near to where Splash Adventure Water Park now stands. After planting crops, several members of the Jones family built cabins and a stockade to protect them from Indian raids. Called Fort Jonesborough, the settlement that developed came to be known as Jonesboro. Jones Valley is also named for John Jones and his family.

map-old-jonesborough-alabama-18881888 Map showing Jonesboro

Shortly after its founding, Williamson Hawkins another veteran of the War of 1812 and reputed to be a relative of David Crockett (he hated to be called “Davy”), made it to the Jonesboro settlement in May 1815 after being detained in Tennessee “on personal business”. Hawkins drove some cattle with him, bringing “all the supplies he could pack on a horse”, including using a “drag” behind the horse to carry some of the goods. Hawkins eventually built a 2,000 acre plantation near Elyton, then the county seat of Jefferson County. Possibly at Hawkins’ urging, a colony of settlers from Rutherford County Tennessee moved into the area now known as Woodlawn. Other settlers came from South Carolina. In these groups of settlers came many of the names associated with northeast Jefferson County, including, but not limited to: Wood, Barton, Reid (Reed), Tarrant, Green (Greene), Brown, Cowden, Montgomery, and Cunningham.

Woodlawn takes its name from the Wood family, headed by Obadiah Wood and his son Edmund. The town of Rockville was established on Edmund’s twelve hundred acre plantation in 1832. A group of houses sprang up along what was known as the Georgia Road. When the Alabama and Chattanooga railroad was built in 1870, the town became known as Wood Station, and later Woodlawn.

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Obadiah Washington Wood, 1815-1893

Another resident of the area was George Roebuck, who built a home on Georgia Road near where the Boys’ Industrial School is located. Roebuck was named for George. His brother, Alfred Roebuck had a “stand” (an early combination rest area, truck stop, bed & breakfast, curb market, and used animal lot) at the intersection of the Huntsville Road and Stout’s Road in Norwood.

This article is intended to provide accurate historical information to a general audience. Material contained herein is gathered from reputable online and traditional sources, but unless otherwise noted, is not the result of original scholarship or research by the author.

-E. E. (Skip) Campbell, Ph.D.

Skip Campbell retired from UPS in early 2012 after 38 years as a senior manager, working in numerous locations in the United States and abroad, with primary responsibilities in operations and industrial engineering. He received his BS degree in Applied Science and Operations Analysis from the University of Alabama and holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management, Quality and Management,. Skip holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Development, with concentrations in Organizational Theory and Macroergonomics. Skip is a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and sits on the Board of Visitors for the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama. Since retiring, Skip serves as an Adjunct Professor with the College of Continuing Studies (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Alabama and focuses his academic research efforts on the area of pre-20th century Alabama history. Skip belongs to a number of historical and cemetery preservation associations. He and his wife Denise have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.

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2014 Tree Giveaway

The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve would like to thank everyone that came out on Saturday, February 8th, 2014, the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve to support our first ever Tree Giveaway for the community of Pinson. This very special event was part of a statewide effort, lead by the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Arbor Day Foundation, to help communities impacted by the 2011 tornadoes. During our tree-age (triage, get it?) 1,500 trees were given away by the Friends of Turkey Creek volunteer group.  Also, on-hand to answer any tree care questions during the event, were horticulture experts from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the Jefferson County Storm Water Authority.

Trees provide many very important ecological services for our society, such as clean air, clean water, erosion control, and of course general beautification. Unfortunately, sever weather, and development contributes to the loss of many trees and the services they provide us, every year. We hope that these trees will help make our community a cleaner, greener place.

There are still a few trees left, if you are interested in one of these trees or have any questions about caring for your trees, please feel free to email TCNP at cyeager@bsc.edu or call us at 205.680.4116.

This event would not have been possible without the help of volunteers from the Friends of Turkey Creek that worked hard all morning to label and pass out trees. If you would like to learn more about how you can support the Friends of Turkey Creek, please visit their Facebook page!

Tree Giveaway 1 Tree Giveaway 2 Tree Giveaway 3 Tree Giveaway 4 Tree Giveaway 5 Tree Giveaway 6DSC_1167

 

 

 

 

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