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Stories | Recipes | Events | People | Places | Things | Local News March 2016



Native azaleas

The skinny on snails Cooking with garlic

Time to hunt turkey Alabama turkey hunters hope to spot more birds when turkey season begins March 15 across most of the state.



Manager Stan Wilson Co-Op Editor Rick Norris ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 029920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office.


VOL. 69 NO. 3 n March 2016


POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014. ALABAMA RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION

AREA President Fred Braswell Editor Lenore Vickrey Managing Editor Allison Griffin Creative Director Mark Stephenson Art Director Michael Cornelison Advertising Director Jacob Johnson Advertising Coordinator/ Graphic Designer Brooke Echols Communications Coordinator Laura Stewart



National Country Market 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 504 Austin, Texas 78704 1-800-626-1181 USPS 029-920 • ISSN 1047-0311

Printed in America from American materials Alabama Living

Local high school juniors compete for trips to Washington D.C. and Montgomery.


All hail the snails!


Keep Your Fork

Alabama has the most diverse snail species in the United States, making the Heart of Dixie a mollusk mecca.

The owners of the former All-Wright in Decatur are honoring the past while looking to the future, which includes a lot of cheesecake.



340 TechnaCenter Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36117-6031 1-800-410-2737 E-mail:

Youth Tour Winners


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9 Spotlight 29 Around Alabama 38 Gardens 40 Outdoors 41 Fish & Game Forecast 46 Cook of the Month 54 Snapshots ONLINE: ON THE COVER: This native azalea, Rhododendron arborescens, is known for its sweet fragrance. Often found growing wild on creek and river banks, it can be seen in all its blooming glory this spring at Auburn University’s Donald E. Davis Arboretum. Story, Page 12. PHOTO: Patrick Thompson MARCH 2016 3

A Success Story Eighty years in the making. OFFICE LOCATIONS Jackson Office 1307 College Avenue P.O. Box 398 Jackson, AL 36545 251-246-9081 Chatom Office P.O. Box 143 Chatom, AL 36518 251-847-2302 Toll Free Number 1-800-323-9081 Office Hours 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday (Drive-thru Hours) Pay your bill online at Payment Methods Payments can be made at our Chatom and Jackson offices with cash, checks, debit or credit cards

Stan Wilson Manager of Clarke-Washington EMC

4  MARCH 2016

If you lived in this area 80 years ago, you would know a darkness that folks today couldn’t imagine. When the sun went down in rural areas of this country, the only light to see by was candles and gas lamps. Thinking of the 80 year history of this cooperative, I believe that the impact that Clarke-Washington EMC has had on this area, cannot be overstated.

of this area enjoyed none of the convenience that we take for granted today.

Clarke-Washington EMC was the first electric cooperative organized in Alabama. When the REA was created in Washington D.C., it only took a few months for the pioneers of our area to go ahead with plans to bring electricity to our rural areas of Clarke, Washington, and portions of Monroe and Wilcox counties. We were the first to obtain a loan from REA to build power lines (there are currently 22 electric cooperatives in Alabama). Once CWEMC had been organized on March 2, 1936, the effort then began to sign up members, get community support and form the framework of an organization which could build, operate and maintain and electrical distribution system. I often think that our founders would be proud of us. I wish they could see how far we’ve come and how efficient we still are. I like to tell people how we can operate and maintain a safe and reliable power system that runs through 4000 miles of river bottoms, swamps and pine forests, even though we have a small fraction of the revenue that investor-owned utilities have. That is efficiency!

This cooperative was founded for the good of all eighty years ago. I think that has always been our legacy, and we strive to uphold the trust placed in us.

Clarke-Washington EMC brought comfort and convenience to this part of Alabama. It also brought job opportunities and an economic boost. In 1936, this area was suffering due to the Great Depression. The Rural Electrification Act was a much needed shot in the arm to all of rural America, but especially to our part of Alabama. It may have seemed to many at the time that this was just a passing fad, but I’m sure the dedication and persistence of our founders made them see how much better electricity could make their lives. No more wood stoves with uneven heat. No more cooking with a lantern in one hand. No more washing clothes in iron kettles over the fire. No more ashes from the iron on clean clothes. Rural people

Today, 80 years later, the electric distribution system has grown to 20,000 meters served by over 4,000 miles of power lines. I wonder if our founders knew how profoundly they would change the future for all of us. CWEMC is a success story!

Thank you.n

This is a cross-section of a pole that was set in 1936, the year CWEMC was founded. It has around 80 growth rings, so it was probably a small tree during the Civil War!

| Clarke Washington EMC |

Rural Electric Youth Tour

David Moorer

Will Raybon

Hanna Prescott

Margaret Bradford

Anyone who’s looked after a group of 16- and 17-year-olds in Washington, D.C., for Youth Tour knows how challenging and physically exhausting it is, not to mention how hot and humid the nation’s capital can be in the middle of June. But there’s a reason the program has not just endured but thrived for half a century—and why CWEMC and Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA) stick with it year after year: the students. Youth Tour brings together some 1,600 teens from 43 states for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity culminating in Washington, D.C. Students dance on a boat cruise down the Potomac and see the roots of American history. They learn about electric co-ops and grassroots political advocacy. They live in awfully close quarters for up to a week and are given a small taste of freedom and independence. They sleep a little and talk a lot. These students become college roommates, professional colleagues, lifelong friends and sometimes even spouses. For some, it’s a fun trip that later brings fond memories. To others, Youth Tour inspires kids to discover the adults they’re going to be. For those accepted into the Youth Leadership Council (YLC), the experience is even richer. These students – one representative from each participating state – work the congressional action center at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Annual Meeting. They also participate in a special meeting Alabama Living

one month after the Youth Tour to delve more deeply into leadership and cooperative grassroots issues. Much has changed during the past 52 years since Youth Tour was born, but the one constant has been the students, who never fail to be amazed, inspired, humbled and grateful, according to the faithful electric co-op employees who bring new groups back to Washington every year. For the chaperones and state coordinators, Youth Tour is an enormous amount of work culminating in just a handful of frantic days each year. Flexibility and being able to roll with the punches are musthaves. But it’s a labor of love for most. “You have to be ready for any change that might happen and deal with any problems that come up, no matter what, for the safety of the children,” Laura Stewart, Alabama statewide Youth Tour Coordinator says. “You have to be ready to take on responsibility for these children.” “Rewarding” is a common refrain from those involved in the program, from administrators and coordinators to parents and participants—even the bus drivers who stick with a state year after year. “I’ve had parents come up to me after the program and say, ‘I don’t know what you did, but you brought back a different kid than you took.’ And for parents to say that is gratifying and humbling,” Rick Norris, CWEMC Youth Tour Coordinator says. Rooted in politics

Youth Tour was born from a speech at the 1957 NRECA Annual Meeting by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. He was a longtime advocate of electric co-ops, having lobbied for the creation of Pedernales Electric Cooperative in 1937 as a young politician in Texas. “If one thing comes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents,” the future president said. With that encouragement, Texas electric co-ops began sending summer interns to work in the senator’s Washington, D.C., office. In 1958, an electric co-op in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a weeklong study tour of the nation’s capital. Later that same year, another busload came to Washington from Illinois. The idea grew, and other states sent busloads of students throughout the summer. By 1959, the Youth Tour had grown to 130 participants. In 1964, NRECA began to coordinate joint activities among the state delegations and suggested that co-op representatives from each state arrange to be in Washington, D.C., during Youth Tour week. The first year of the coordinated tour included about 400 teens from 12 states. 2016 Winners Will Raybon from Jackson HS and David Moorer from Millry HS will be CWEMC’s representatives in Washington this year as well as the Alabama Youth Tour trip to Montgomery. Hannah Prescott and Margaret Bradford from Clarke Prep were also selected to attend the Montgomery Youth Tour this month. The contest starts off with students writing as essay. The essays are then judged and around 20 students were selected to interview for these trips. “I love Youth Tour,” Norris says. “It shows how unique the electric cooperatives are. What we are trying to tell these students is we want you to go as far as you can in your life, and we really do care about you.’” It’s clear that the Rural Electric Youth Tour’s first 52 years impacted the lives of many – students and adults. “We’re excited to see what our future leaders accomplish,” said Norris. “And knowing that we played a small part of that is truly something special.” MARCH 2016  5

Value Starts Here Electricity: A Fraction of Your Household Budget The average American spends less than $4 per day on electricity, well below the national average for other necessities like food and shelter*. In fact, most Americans spend more on clothing than on electricity.

Food $18.34/day

Housing $47.63/day

Electricity $3.95/day

Telephone Services $3.53/day

Apparel $4.45/day

Vehicle (purchased) $9.08/day

Gasoline $7.25/day

Healthcare $10.09/day

*Source: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

6  MARCH 2016

Electricity truly powers our lives. We use it at almost all times – either directly or indirectly. It not only fuels what we consider necessities (like lighting, refrigeration and heating/air conditioning), it is also essential for today’s technological advances (like phones, televisions and computers). Access to affordable and reliable electricity is one way the Western world is set apart from the third world. Electricity allows us to have clean water and communication, not to mention the technology to develop and manufacture products. For us, electricity is so abundant that we often take it for granted. Consumers often point to the rising cost of electricity, both now and in the future. However, compared to other goods, electricity prices have remained relatively low. There are forces beyond our control driving up the cost of generating and delivering power to our members. One of the reasons costs have risen is that there are more people today – each using increasingly more energy – than years ago. To keep up with rising demand, we have invested in more infrastructure to produce electricity and deliver it to our members. The expenses from the plants that generate electricity to the lines that deliver it and everything in between are shared among the owners of our cooperative – you and the other members.

The cost of doing business is also on the rise. On average, 60-70 percent of your electric bill is directly related to the cost of generating power. For that reason, we are most affected by increases in fuel prices to run the power plants that generate electricity for you. Much like the cost of gasoline, prices for natural gas and coal have risen considerably over a relatively short amount of time. The rising price of materials to build substations and power lines also impacts the bottom line. In the future, government regulations on how power is generated could have a tremendous impact on utilities and their consumers across the country. The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at your expense by replacing abundant and cost-effective coal generation with more expensive and less reliable power generation. While much has changed over the past eighty years, one thing has not – our commitment to providing reliable electricity to our members at the lowest possible cost. We work hard to manage your resources and keep rates as low as possible. That’s why electricity remains among the lowest necessary household expenses. So the next time you power up your computer or grab a cold drink, remember that value starts here. We value your membership. We value you.

| Clarke Washington EMC|


Your refrigerator is one of the largest, most-used appliances in your home. It requires only minimal maintenance – just simple cleaning of the condenser coils, which disperse heat. If the coils are covered with dust, gunk or pet hair, they cannot diffuse the heat properly and will not run efficiently. A bigger problem can result if the compressor burns out from having to run constantly because of the grimy coating. This can be an expensive problem. The bottom line? A minor investment in time once a year can save you cold cash down the line.




• Vacuum cleaner with hose • Damp cloth

1. Locate the refrigerator’s coil, a grid-like structure, or fan

that will likely have a covering or grate protecting it. The coil is usually concealed behind the front toe kick or in the back. Some newer models have internal coils, so if you don’t find them in the front or back, this may be the case with your fridge.

2. If the coil is in the back, slide the refrigerator away from


the wall, removing the plug from the electrical outlet when possible. You may also need to disconnect the line to the water dispenser or icemaker to allow enough room to work.

3. Gently vacuum and clean the coil. Using the brush or


crevice attachment, carefully vacuum the dust and dirt wherever you see it. If you have pulled the fridge out, vacuum and wipe down the sides and back of the fridge and the floor.

4. Once the floor is dry, plug in the refrigerator and

rearrange the power cord and supply lines so they don’t get a kink or stuck under the weight of the refrigerator. Slide the refrigerator back into place. Be sure to replace the toe kick panel if this was removed.

1.800.323.9081 to report an outage

Remember: If you do not call from a phone number that is listed on your account, the outage management system will not recognize you. Make sure all the phones that you would use to call in an outage are listed on your account before the storm comes. Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 7

EFFICIENCY WORD SEARCH Reducing energy use is good for the environment, and by being energy efficient, you can help your parents save on their monthly electric bill! Find the words associated with energy efficiency in the word search below.

Circle all words associated with efficiency. The hidden words appear straight across, backwards, up and down, and diagonally. Use the word bank below as a guide.


8 MARCH 2016

MARCH | Spotlight Find treasures during the Alabama Antique Trail Sale More than 100 shops and malls in 60 Alabama towns will participate in the Alabama Antique Trail Sale during March. Some stores will have selected items on sale; others may offer a percentage off store items. Started by two Alabama residents, was the first state trail of the now 13-state, which has websites for more than 1,000 shops, malls, shows and auctions. Some Alabama stores are in period houses: cottages, bungalows and farmhouses. Others are in historical buildings that were once country stores, theaters, barns and banks. Member stores offer all kinds of treasures, from advertising and architectural pieces to 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century furnishings and decorative arts. Many items are from local family estates. Contact the trail at 256-797-5640, or find it at


| MAR. 12-13 |

Festival of Art offers free fun in Orange Beach The 42nd annual Festival of Art, which is March 12-13 at the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, will have more than 100 fine art booths, a kids’ art alley, hot glass blowing, Raku pottery firings, live music and tasty food. Experience the best gourmet culinary, visual, performing and fine artists of the region – and all at a free event. To learn more, visit The Coastal Arts Center is located at 26389 Canal Road in Orange Beach. The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Friends of the Arts. Call 251-981-ARTS.

Whereville, AL In our new feature, readers are asked to identify and place an Alabama landmark or scene. The winner will be chosen at random from all the correct guesses and will receive $25. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqual-


Guess where this is and you might win $25!

If you know where this landmark is, send your answer by March 5 with your name, address and the name of your electric cooperative. The winner and the answer will be announced in the April issue. Contribute your own photo for an upcoming issue! Send a photo of an interesting or unusual spot in Alabama, which must be accessible to the public and easy to identify, to us. A reader whose photo is used in the magazine will also win $25. Submit: By email: By mail: Whereville, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 (no phone calls please)

FEBRUARY’S ANSWER Many readers think it’s called “the church in the rock,” but it’s the Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel, a mission of the Dekalb Baptist Association, near Mentone on the top of Lookout Mountain. Built by Colonel Milford Howard as a memorial to his first wife, this stone church is built around a huge boulder. Mary Wisner, a customer of Sand Mountain EC, wrote to us that the chapel was dedicated in June 1937; she knows because she was there, as an 8-year-old girl.

See more responses at februarywhereville.

We received more than 600 correct answers to February’s picture, and the winner of the random drawing is Melanie Hahn, a customer of Sand Mountain EC. Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 9


Women’s history and Social Security


arch is Women’s History Month — a time to focus not just on the past, but on the challenges women continue to face in the 21st century. Ida May Fuller, born on September 6, 1874, was the first American to receive a monthly Social Security benefit check. Along with Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins — who was instrumental in the creation of the Social Security Act — Ida May Fuller was one of the first famous women of Social Security. She received the check, amounting to $22.54, on January 31, 1940. Back then, people understood that she would be one of millions that would be positively affected by retirement benefits. Seventy-six years after that first check, Social Security continues to play a vital role in the lives of women. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women will have decades to enjoy

retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a girl born today can expect to live more than 80 years. As a result, experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, they need to plan early and wisely.

What you can do

“The best place to begin is by knowing what you can expect to receive from Social Security, and how much more you are likely to need to enjoy a comfortable retirement,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, Social Security’s acting commissioner and a Social Security pioneer woman in her own right. You can start with a visit to Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. There, in just a few minutes, you can get a personalized, instant estimate of your retirement benefits. Plug in different scenarios, such as retirement ages or projected earnings, to get an idea of how such things might change your future benefit amounts. You can find it at You should also visit Social Security’s fi-

nancial planning website at It provides detailed information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other life or career events can affect your Social Security. Your benefits are based on your earnings, so you should create your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings were reported correctly. If you want more information about the role of Social Security in women’s lives today, Social Security has a booklet that you may find useful. It is called “Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know.” You can find it at pubs/10127.html.

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by email at


Foot care is important for people with diabetes


aking good care of your feet has many benefits for people with diabetes. Research shows that diabetes often causes problems with feet and legs, and these problems can be severe. In 2010 alone, about 73,000 adults with diabetes had a leg or foot amputated. Amputations in adults with diabetes account for about 60 percent of the amputations of legs and feet not resulting from an injury, such as from a car crash. Among those aged 45 years or older, people with diabetes were about 10 times as likely to lose a leg or foot to amputation as people without diabetes, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research. I have a close family member who was diagnosed with diabetes about two years ago. His diagnosis was totally unexpected, and as a result, all of us have become increasingly aware of the importance of overall diabetes management, including lifestyle changes that include proper foot care. Diabetes can harm feet in many ways. It reduces blood flow to certain areas of the body, which makes healing harder. Diabetes nerve damage may prevent you from feeling pain in your feet, and you may not realize you have an injury that needs treatment. 10 MARCH 2016

Nerve damage appears to be more common in people with the following conditions:  Problems controlling blood sugar levels.  High cholesterol/high blood pressure.  Overweight.  Ages older than 40. Protect your feet in these ways:  Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to the feet.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active every day.  Take your medicine as prescribed.  Get a comprehensive foot exam on every medical visit.  Never walk barefoot or while wearing only socks. Wear slippers at home.  Trim your toenails after you have washed your feet so your nails will be softer and safer to cut. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately:  You feel pain in your legs or cramping in your buttocks, thighs, or calves during physical activity.  Your feet tingle, burn, or hurt.

 You lose the sense of touch or are unable to feel heat or cold very well.  The shape of your feet changes over time. You may lose hair on your toes, feet, and lower legs or the color and temperature of your feet may change.  The skin on your feet becomes dry and cracked.  Your toenails turn thick and yellow.  Fungus infections such as athlete’s foot appear between your toes.  You have blisters, sores, ulcers, infected corns, and ingrown toenails. Be sure to check your feet for sores and other injuries every day. Also, wear well-fitting shoes that do not rub or pinch your feet, or cause blisters. Always wear socks or stockings with your shoes. Even ordinary foot problems can lead to serious complications; however, most problems are preventable with proper footwear and regular care.

Jim McVay, Dr.P.A., is director of the Bureau of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

| Power Pack |

Radio column stirs readers’ memories I am e-mailing to tell you how very much I enjoyed your article (“Music to cruise by, thanks to WLAC and Randy,” February 2016). It came today, and I was skimming through looking at everything when I saw a picture of Randy’s Record Shop. When I started reading about WLAC, I was transported back to the 50s. I grew up in Nashville and rode around with my boyfriends listening to WLAC. I live in Foley, but when I read your article it brought back so many happy memories.

Your article about WLAC in Alabama Living was a treat. I was one of many south Alabama teenagers listening to WBAM (the Big BAM) by day and WLAC at night. One of the thrills of my young life was getting to meet legendary DJ Bill “Hossman” Allen. I got to hear him say the closing line from his Randy’s Record Store ads: “That’s Randy, R-A-N-D-Y, Gallatin, G-A-L-LA-T-I-N, Gallatin, Tennessee.” Phillip Rawls, Montgomery

Marla Bennett, Foley

Your article on WLAC and Randy’s Record Shop stirred memories of my youth, and prompted me to reflect on how the music I listened to influenced my lifetime music preferences. I remembered the call letters WLAC, and I remembered “John R.” and “Cohort 6 and 7/8ths” on the evening shows, and a couple of the sponsors, White Rose Petroleum Jelly, Silky Straight (both hair products), and Monotone Gutted Mufflers. Other than the names of many of the blues and R&B recording artists, that was about all I could remember about the program formats. You mentioned Howlin’ Wolf, and they also frequently played the music of Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo and many others. My father was the penurious type, so we did not have luxuries like radios in either the family car or the farm pickup truck, so all of my radio listening was done under cover, literally, in my bedroom late at night. I kept my small, portable radio under the bedcovers and turned down low, so that my mother would not hear, especially during the later hours. Earlier in the evening, after homework was done, I was apparently free to listen to “The Shadow,” “Gangbusters” and “Boston Blackie,” but it was 9 and 10 in the evening when that great music started. Work started early in the morning on a cattle ranch, so I knew that late night radio entertainment would have been frowned on, at least on weeknights. I found a little information on the Internet about WLAC that cleared up a little confusion.

Enjoyed your story in this month’s Alabama Living. Brought back great memories from the late 50s when I was a teen driving a ‘56 Buick with my arm around my favorite girl. Thanks for the memories. Calvin Dunaway, Brewton Having lived in northeastern Kentucky in the 50s I would lie in bed on Saturday night listening to our radio (AM station) to the sounds originating from Gallatin, Tenn., and Randy’s Record Shop over WLAC. My hometown was Olive Hill, Ky., approximately 5 hours northeast of Gallatin and 40 miles from the tri-state area of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. Your article brought back so many memories of those bygone days! Saturday night was a highlight growing up in a town with a population of 1,300 and listening to the Kentucky basketball network and Kaywood Ledford before tuning into Randy’s for my music fix. Thank you for writing this article as my teenage years and high school (graduated in 1959 from Olive Hill High School) were the best time of my young life. Rick Capps, Hoover Wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the article. I saved it to show my brother Bill, and after he read it, we both did a lot of laughing, talking, reminiscing, and adding comments like, ‘’Wonder why he never mentioned Royal Crown Dressing’’ and, ‘’Why no comment on the guy who used to do the Tarzan yells’’ ?? Thanks again for opening up a jar of great memories for us. J. R. Poole, Elba

Letters to the editor

E-mail us at: or write us at: Letters to the editor P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

Apparently I had not distinguished between “Randy’s Record Hi-lights,” which began about 10 p.m., and the earlier show, “Ernie’s Record Parade.” The Randy’s show was emceed by Gene Nobles, with his assistant, Cohort, who, between records, would periodically startle listeners with on-air Tarzan yells. John R. was DJ for the earlier show, which must have aired around 9 p.m. I was also watching and listening to the birth of rock and roll, and it was not difficult to recognize the amalgamation of styles inherent in this new music, although at the time I just enjoyed it all without historical or social analysis. I did not share my enthusiasm for WLAC, blues and R&B with most of my high school friends, although the African-American artists who were crossing over to R&R, such as Fats Domino and Little Richard, were extremely popular with all of them. I have over the years embraced many genres of music, and I enjoy classical music and country and western, as well as R&B and R&R, although, with a few exceptions, my preferences hark back to the music, in whatever style, of the 50s and 60s. I liked the Beatles music, as well as Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones, and I recognize that their music is rooted, at least partially, in the musical styles that I covertly absorbed from those late night programs. They knew and admitted that the power and emotion emanating from blues music had a substantial influence on them. Thank you for provoking a pleasant memory. I enjoy your columns, and look forward to your future contributions to Alabama Living. Robert Connell, Orange Beach

Co-ops hail high court’s halt of Clean Power Plan


he National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) welcomed the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to halt implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. “Charging ahead with implementation of the Clean Power Plan would have caused immediate and irreparable harm Alabama Living

to America’s electric co-ops,” said NRECA Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “Had the stay not been granted, co-ops would have been forced to take costly and irreversible steps to comply with the rule, which is a huge overreach of EPA’s legal authority. The Clean Power Plan is a direct threat to coops’ ability to provide affordable and reliable electricity to their member consumers

and should be erased from the books.” Last fall, 39 generation and transmission cooperatives, including the Alabama Rural Electric Association, joined NRECA in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review and ultimately reject the Clean Power Plan. A decision in this case may come later this year or early 2017. MARCH 2016 11

On fire for

native Azaleas 12  MARCH 2016



ire in the hills. That’s what American naturalist William Bartram thought he was seeing when he rounded a wooded bend on the Savannah River in the late 1700s and saw an entire hillside ablaze with red and orange color. It wasn’t fire that Bartram saw, however. It was a stand of native Flame azaleas blooming in all their intense glory, a sight that is increasingly rare these days in the wild, but is being preserved and expanded by a dedicated cadre of modern-day horticulturists. Native azaleas, often called bush honeysuckles, are relatives of the white and pastel-colored landscape azaleas that herald spring in Alabama. Both types of azaleas are members of the rhododendron genus; however, those iconic “Southern” azaleas actually originated in Asia and were brought here via England in the 1800s. Native azaleas, on the other hand, have been here since long before humankind was around to appreciate their beauty. Though related, Asian and native azaleas have distinct differences. For example, native azaleas are deciduous, not evergreen, like their Asian cousins, and native azaleas bloom in a palette of colors from gentle whites and pinks to brilliant yellows and intense oranges and reds. Of the estimated 17 species of native azaleas in the United States, most are found along the east coast and a dozen or more of those are native to the Southeast. Depending on the type, those Southeastern native azaleas can range in height from knee high up to 15 feet at maturity and have bloom times in spring, summer or early fall.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2016  13

Groups working hard to preserve and expand species

Sadly, habitat destruction has severely diminished many pockets of wild native azaleas, but groups of guardians are working hard to preserve and expand native azalea numbers. Those guardians can be found throughout the state and beyond, including one enclave in east central Alabama. Among that group is Robert Greenleaf, emeritus professor of music at Auburn University who has some 300 different native azalea varieties growing around his Auburn home. The son of an Auburn University horticulture professor, Greenleaf remembered seeing native azaleas in the woods when he was young. When he came back to Auburn as a music department faculty member in the 1970s, Greenleaf began planting them around his house site. His collection expanded thanks in large part to two local plantsmen, Tom Corley and Dennis Rouse, who had been collecting and hybridizing wild native azaleas for years and shared their seeds with Greenleaf, who was soon hooked on the plants. “They are attractive, noninvasive and very hardy,” Greenleaf says, adding that growing them is extremely rewarding — so much so that he is attempting to have one of every available native azalea variety on his property, where he intersperses them with other trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials for a stunning natural display. Patrick Thompson, a specialist at Auburn University’s Donald E. Davis Arboretum, is also a member of this east central Alabama cadre. He became immersed in native azaleas when the late R.O. Smitherman, another Auburn man who worked with Corley, Rouse and others to increase the native azalea gene pool, donated several hundred plants to the arboretum beginning in 2008. The plants came from Smitherman’s own collection of several hundred selections from thousands of varieties and hybrids, a collection that included “Corley’s Cardinal” and “Patsy’s Pink,” both of which Smitherman registered with the Royal Horticulture Society. For several years since, Thompson has been evaluating Smitherman’s donated plants for performance in east central Alabama and at other sites across the state. He’s also been propagating them and now has enough to sell five dazzling varieties to the public, with more coming available soon (see them at He’s also become a native azalea evangelist.

The azalea in our cover photo was grown from a plant originally found on Mt. Cheaha. This clone of that plant can be found perched above the waterfall at Auburn University’s Donald E. Davis Arboretum. The late R.O. Smitherman, who donated many native azaleas from his collection to the arboretum, said it was the only species of azalea you can hear. Reports the arboretum’s Patrick Thompson: “We would be walking along a straight stretch of creek bank and when he heard the sound of falling or rushing water he would perk up and say, ‘Hear that? Sounds like arborescent.’ He was right too often to have been finding all those plants for the first time.” The flowers are often solid white, sometimes with a yellow blotch, and always with red pistil and stamens. The cover photograph was taken in late April, but the plants growing wild on Lake Martin, Hallawakee Creek and other places bloom as late as September and may one day be described as a new subspecies. It has been referred to as Rhododendron arborescens georgiana. Flower at left: The fragrant Alabama Azalea (Rhododendron alabamense), which grows wild in north-central Alabama and on the edges of surrounding states, blooms in early spring and emits a lemon-and-spice scent.

More fragrant, with more nectar and pollen

“Both (native and non-native azaleas) have their merits,” says Thompson, who is the current president of Alabama’s Azalea Society of America chapter, but he’s especially fond of the native ones. According to Thompson, native azaleas are often more fragrant and produce nectar and pollen throughout more of the year than their imported relatives. Those traits draw bees and butterflies as well as birds (including hummingbirds) and other animals to them, ultimately helping sustain the local ecosystem. “That’s a missing link in a lot of gardens,” says Thompson, noting that non-native plants often can’t provide such ecosystem support. For that reason, and because of their beauty and hardiness, native azaleas are a great option for home landscapes. Thompson noted that native azaleas may not be as abundantly available as their Asian counterparts, but they can be purchased from growers who specialize in native plants and often at native plant sales sponsored by public gardens and civic groups across the state. Though the best time to plant native azaleas is in the fall (see the sidebar for planting tips), now is an ideal time to see them blooming at locations across the state such as the Davis Arboretum, the Huntsville and Mobile botanical garden and other public gardens and along many of this spring’s azalea trails (Auburn’s trail goes right past Greenleaf ’s house). Or go into the woods and keep your eyes open. The hills may well be on fire. 14 MARCH 2016

The pink flowers of this Piedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) in Loachapoka are an example of the beautiful blooms on native azaleas that can be found in the wild in Alabama.

Members of the Azalea Society of America and The American Rhododendron Society marvel at an enormous specimen of the Red Hills Azalea, R. colemanii, growing at Callaway Gardens.

Establishing native azaleas in your landscape Once they are established, which may take up to three years, native azaleas offer low-maintenance beauty to the landscape and are ideal as understory plants or in partially shaded areas. If planted correctly, they need little if any pruning and fertilizer and have few pests. Because they need a loose, well-drained and well-aerated soil with a pH of about 5.5, it pays to get a soil test and amend soils accordingly with any needed nutrients and lots of organic matter before planting. To ensure proper establishment, plant native azaleas in the late fall by following these steps recommended by native azalea aficionado Robert Greenleaf and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Dig a hole about 2 to 3 feet wider than the root ball and deep enough so that about half the root ball will remain exposed above the ground. Amend the soil with a mixture of one part ground pine bark, peat moss or other organic matter to one part soil (a 50/50 blend).

This light yellow native azalea, “Smitty’s Special,” is one of the hundreds of azaleas donated to the Auburn University Donald E. Davis Arboretum by the late R.O. Smitherman that can be seen there in bloom this spring.

A soil pH of about 5.5 is ideal for native azaleas. If your soil is extremely acidic or alkaline you may need to adjust the pH using limestone amendments. (In his part of east central Alabama where soils tend to be acidic and high in phosphorus, Greenleaf uses 1 cup of dolomitic limestone to ½ cup gypsum per wheelbarrow of soil mix.) Place the plant in the hole and mound the soil mixture over the root ball. Mulch with 2 to 3 inches of pine straw, ground pine bark or other organic mulch. Water deeply and slowly a couple of times each week for the first 6 to 8 weeks, then weekly thereafter during dry spells. Continue to water the plant regularly, add new mulch and remove weeds as needed. Take time to enjoy the blooms and all the creatures that visit those blooms! More information on native azaleas and their maintenance is available through the Donald E. Davis Arboretum at www.auburn. edu/cosam/arboretum/, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at www., the Azalea Society of America at or through many botanical gardens and native plant nurseries in Alabama and the Southeast. – Katie Jackson

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The worst gardening blunders Story and photos by George Wiegel

House? What house? These evergreens were planted too closely to the front foundation of this house and are now dwarfing it.

Good gardeners aren’t born with “green thumbs” that give them mystical powers to make any plant thrive. Gardening is like any endeavor. The more you know, the more success you’re likely to have. Every setback can serve as a learning experience and evidence for the saying that “Everything I learned about gardening can be found in my compost pile.” One way to speed up the process is by taking advantage of the knowledge of those who have killed their petunias and dogwood trees before you. Here are seven of the most important woes that our “foregardeners” would warn you about:


Not improving lousy soil. If you’re blessed with

reasonably good soil, just loosen and plant. But if you’re starting with “soil” that’s more of a sand pile, clay pit, quarry-in-waiting or compacted subsoil left behind by home construction, plan on some remediation. One school of thought advises rototilling or deeply digging the ground to at least 10 or 12 inches deep, then working about 2 inches of compost, rotted leaves or similar organic matter into it.

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A second school of thought advises topping the landscape-bed-to-be with about 12 inches of wood chips and then waiting at least six weeks for decomposition to start. Then the chips can be pulled back to plant and move among the plants as mulch. You only need to do either of these once – before planting. From then on, just keep a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter over the surface and let the earthworms and microbes be your “soil improvers.”

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2 3 4 5

Planting too closely. This common blunder includes planting plants too closely to one another as well as too closely to the house. Crowding sets you up for a jungle look within a few years, sets the stage for unnecessary pruning, and makes plants more prone to disease since crowded foliage doesn’t dry as well. Determine the mature width of your new plant and space according to that – not its current size. A good rule of thumb: Add mature widths together and divide by two, then plant no closer than that. (Example: 8-foot holly beside a 4-foot spirea. 8+4=12, divide by 2, equals 6-foot minimum spacing.) To space from houses, simply divide the mature width in half and plant no closer than that. (Example: An 8-foot holly should go no closer than 4 feet from the house.) Too-deep planting. This one’s a major killer of trees. Planting deeply doesn’t make a tree less likely to blow over. It’s likely to suffocate the roots and rot the buried bark. Before planting a new tree, identify its “root flare” – the area at the base of the trunk where it begins to slightly widen. Plant so that this flare is just above grade. Be aware that potted and balled-and-burlapped trees are often already planted too deeply in their pots and bags. You may need to excavate soil to expose the flare. Poor planting practices. Go wide but not overly deep with those holes when planting trees and shrubs. Most roots spread out within the top 1 to 2 feet of the surface as opposed to going straight down deeply. Dig holes for your trees and shrubs three to five times as wide as the root ball but only as deep as the root ball (so the soil doesn’t settle underneath and cause the root balls to sink). Fray out circling roots, and don’t plant too deeply. Tamp the soil and water well after planting. Mulching miscues. You can overdo it or underdo it with mulch, which is the coarse wood or organic matter used on soil surfaces to discourage weeds and retain soil moisture. Too much mulch can cause the same problems as planting too deeply. Too little won’t stop weeds or retain moisture very well. Especially be careful not to pack mulch up against the stems and trunks of plants. That can rot the stems and bark and possibly kill the plants. Two to three inches of organic mulch (i.e. bark mulch, chopped leaves, pine straw, shredded hardwood) is ideal around trees and shrubs. One to 2 inches is fine around flowers.

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Watering blunders. Your goal is to keep the soil consistently damp (never soggy) all around the root ball and to just below it. That encourages roots to grow out toward the water without rotting them. The best way to gauge the amount: water slowly enough that the water soaks in instead of runs off for the time you think is right. Wait 10 or 15 minutes and use a stick or probe to go down beside the root ball to see how deeply the soil has been moistened. If it’s excessively wet, cut back next time. If it’s not wet deeply enough, you’ll need to water more or for longer. Once you know the time and amount that’s just right for that bed, deliver it according to weather and plant size. Plants with bigger root balls, such as trees and shrubs, are best soaked deeply once or twice a week. Vegetables, annual flowers and newly planted perennials are best watered two to three times a week in hot, dry weather since their roots are shallower and closer to the surface (which dries out fastest). You won’t need to water as much when it’s cooler and cloudier and probably not at all if a soaking rain does the deed for you. Pay more careful attention to regularly watering young plants, ones whose roots are limited and more at risk from dry soil.


Picking problem-prone plants. Plants have their own particular site preferences (especially when it comes to light and soil moisture), and some are pickier about them than others. Some do a good job of adapting to a variety of sites, while others need close to ideal conditions or else they’ll struggle and possibly die. A big part of good gardening involves figuring out where each plant will be “happiest.” Just as important is knowing which are the most trouble-prone plants – a lineup that varies from area to area. Check with trusted local experts (Extension educators and local garden centers are good starting points), as well as experienced local gardeners and published lists targeted as closely as possible to your area. As for plants that you realize are struggling because you’ve guessed wrong on the site, don’t be afraid to move them – the sooner the better. Most “green-thumb” gardeners will tell you they’ve moved every plant in their yard a minimum of three times before they got it right.


George Weigel is a horticulturist, garden consultant, author and newspaper garden columnist. His website is

A common mulching mistake is packing mulch high up against trunks, which can rot the bark. It’s a practice called “volcano mulching.” MARCH 2016 19



are far from a treat

Landowners urged to eradicate this invasive tree By Lenela Glass-Godwin


ur founding father Benjamin Franklin was known for his wisdom and sound advice during his lifetime, and he is still admired today for the legacy of common sense suggestions he left us. But even the architects of great countries make mistakes. Mr. Franklin made a big one when he introduced the Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebifera or Triadica sebifera) to the eastern United States during the colonial period. His error in judgment is one from which the South is likely to suffer for a long time. Chinese tallow tree, also known as popcorn tree or Florida “aspen,” is native to eastern Asia. Unfortunately, plants like tallow trees, kudzu, privet, mimosa, Japanese honeysuckle, chinaberries, and a host of other Asian plants that may not pose problems in 20 MARCH 2016

their native countries have created colossal invasive nightmares in the southern U.S. One of the biggest headaches facing land managers now on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains is the tallow tree. A deciduous tree with bright, waxy green heart-shaped leaves that turn glowing red in autumn, tallow trees may grow 40 to 50 feet in height. In the spring the trees produce long, light-green inflorescences that are easily seen even from a distance. In September and October dark brown, three-valved fruits mature, producing the characteristic “popcorn” seeds that are spread far and wide by both water and birds. For many years tallow trees were planted by property owners as ornamentals for the yard. Many people thought that they were

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just planting an exotic that would provide shade and pretty fall color. But the private landowner who continues to allow a tallow tree to grow on his property does a great disservice to his neighbors as the trees quickly invade adjoining properties and are extremely difficult to control. According to Dr. Nancy Loewenstein of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, a mature tree can produce more than 100,000 seeds per year and the trees also propagate by means of “runners” or “suckers.” The leaves and sap of these trees are toxic to humans and cattle and can cause serious illness if ingested. Most states have now declared tallow trees a noxious weed. The Chinese tallow tree is spreading like an aggressive cancer throughout Alabama, and is now a problem in all of the south and central parts of the state. The website www. provides an excellent representation of the current distribution of tallow trees in the South. The tree has taken over huge areas along the banks of the Coosa, Alabama, and Tallapoosa Rivers and is steadily invading many wetlands. It rapidly overtakes unmanaged pasture areas and abandoned farms, and because certain bird species disperse the abundant seeds in their droppings, it is often seen growing along fence lines where birds perch. The fence lines and pastures along Interstate 65 south of Montgomery close to the Hyundai plant are prime examples of unchecked tallow tree growth in upland areas.

Most states have now declared tallow trees a noxious weed. Concerned land managers throughout the southeastern U.S. who are fighting the spread of invasive pest plant species are encouraging property owners to eradicate the Chinese tallow tree from their yards and land holdings. According to Dr. James Miller of the U.S. Forest Service, forest landowners can take a number of steps to control or eradicate this pest species. Small specimens (diameter of less than 6 inches) of tallow tree should be pulled up as soon as they are observed, and foliar applications of herbicides may also be used to kill young trees. For larger trees with a diameter of more than 6 inches, the trees should be cut with a chainsaw as close to ground level as possible. After that, herbicide applications to the cut stumps or basal bark are essential. A 15-20% application of the herbicide triclopyr (found in formulations such as Ortho Brush-B-Gon and Bayer Advanced Brush Killer) mixed with oil should be sprayed on the root collar area, sides of the stumps, and outer portion of all cut surfaces until thoroughly wet. The herbicides Garlon 3A and 4, Arsenal AC, and Clearcast are also effective. Herbicide treatments are best done during early to mid-growing season before the trees have a chance to set seed. For specific application information, consult A Management Guide for Invasive Plants in Southern Forests, General Technical Report SRS-131, written by James Miller, Steven Manning, and Stephen Enloe and published by the U.S. Forest Service. For more information on Chinese tallow tree invasion and eradication advice, please contact your county office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, or check out the Alabama Invasive Plant Council website at alabama/ 22 MARCH 2016

The invasive Chinese tallow tree, or popcorn tree, above, can reach heights of 60 feet. Below: The trees can rapidly overtake unmanaged pasture areas and PHOTO: RONALD F. BILLINGS, TEXAS A&M FOREST SERVICE/BUGWOOD.ORG abandoned farms.


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All hail the


More than 200 species call Alabama home By Emmett Burnett


eferenced in the Bible, depicted in ancient art, and oh so tasty, snails have been with us since recorded history. Most tote on-board housing, live within inches of food, and are synonymous with ‘slow.’ But whatever they are doing has worked for millenniums, so why hurry? The little slip-sliding JELL-O on the half shell is in no rush to leave us either. Alabama has the most diverse snail species in the U.S, making the Heart of Dixie a mollusk mecca. “I wish we knew exactly how many kinds the state has,” notes Dr. Paul Johnson, Program Supervisor of the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center near Marion. “Jackson County alone has over a hundred species. Of the 710 freshwater species described in the U.S., about 210 live in Alabama. ”

In addition to freshwater, snails are available in marine and terrestrial packages too. They come in shells, or the convertible, non-shelled ‘slug.’ All are represented here. And most of us are unaware when experiencing a close encounter of the slime kind. In fact, according to Dr. Kathryn Perez, professor in the Department of Biology, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, “When walking on your lawn, you probably stand on a dozen of them.” Thousands live among us virtually undetectable. Perez adds, “Many species, including Alabama’s, are no larger than a period on a printed page. Millions – pinhead sized – climb on blades of grass, or crawl in soil, embed in crevices, and maneu-


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ver over terrain without our knowledge.” And if you think snails travel slowly, wait until you hear how they sleep. Some species can hibernate, without food or water, for over 50 years. In perspective, a snail bedding down during the 1960s appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show could wake up today, wondering how it went. Perez recalls, “There have been situations of snail specimens in museums, for decades, motionless, preserved, and assumed dead – until one day they suddenly start crawling in the display case.” The crawl is actually a glide, made possible by lubrication, from excreted mucus, from a mucus-embedded body. Escargot anyone?

aquarium escapee. It is anything but a pet. “The concern is that apple snails will find a way into the delta,” Shelton says. “If that happens, it will be hard to stop.” A prolific breeder, it lays thousands of bright pink eggs in clusters. They hatch and start eating, depleting food sources for other animals and potentially altering the aquatic eco-system’s balance. Fortunately apple snails only live underwater, except sticking out just long enough to lay eggs above the waterline. Babies then hatch and dive back in. “For the most part, snails are beneficial,” Johnson says. “They are ecological facilitators, food to other animals, and excellent at moving nutrients.” He adds, “In aquatics, the presence of snails is Remarkable creatures an indicator of good water quality.” But Doug Shelton is a malacologist – one around the house they are an indicator of who studies mollusks, clams, and simi“it’s time to take action.” lar creatures. Based in Mobile, he works Snails not only love Alabama’s wilwith the Alabama Malacological Rederness, but they are quite fond of your search Center, and explains just how replace, too. “A few aren’t that bothermarkable snails are: some,” says Danny Lipford, TV and radio “It has two eyes, each mounted on the host of “Today’s Homeowner with Dantips of stalks, protruding from its head,” Pomacea maculatum (apple snail eggs); BELOW: ny Lipford.” “Basically, down here, snails Shelton says. “The eyes/stalks move in- Pomacea paludosa (apple snail plate). and slugs have the same patterns. They COURTESY OF DR. PAUL JOHNSON AND THE dependently of each other.” Depending like Alabama’s high humidity and moist ALABAMA AQUATIC BIODIVERSITY CENTER on species, snails have varying degrees of areas in our yards.” sense of smell, vision, and taste. Most eat vegetation, which isn’t a Lipford says that a few onsite snails may not cause much harm, problem. A snail can have up to 25,000 teeth. but they are visiting you for one reason only: to eat. Main course “They don’t chew,” Shelton adds. “It eats by rasping or grinding for residential areas are container gardens, crops, and landscapes. its teeth over food.” The process is similar to the teeth of a chain- “They are generally regarded as pests because of that unsightly silsaw kicking sawdust off of wood. And snails do two things well: ver streak path they leave and their appetite for vegetation.” eat and multiply. We have a problem. Experts are concerned with the aquatic menace of Mobile, Solutions from your kitchen But there is good news. According to Lipford, “Most home remPomacea Maculata, commonly known as the island apple snail, because it’s about the size of an apple. Apples are about the only edies you’ve heard about for eliminating snails, work. Many are plant products it doesn’t eat, only because non-toxic.” He recommends several: Coffee grounds repel slugs. “I guess apples don’t grow in water. Apple snails are showing up in they don’t like the coffee smell. It doesn’t kill them but they move alarming numbers in Mobile away” – as if a mucus secreting, stalk-eyed creature that resembles Municipal (Langan) Park. It something from Star Wars can be picky. Other remedies suggested by Lipford include salad dressing. is not native to Alabama but proba- “I’m not sure what type, but snails don’t like salad dressing,” he bly introduced laughs. And try beer – on snails, that is. Beer attracts snails because of to our waters as a the fermenting / grainy odor. They will fall in a bowl of beer and h o m e drown in it like a mollusk frat party. Salt is also a common deterrent but fatal, and toxic to almost every living thing it touches, including plants. A weak solution of ammonia in water sprayed on the area repels snails too, but the smell may repel you as well. From the elevations of Lookout Mountain to the shores of Dauphin Island, snails are survivors. Most are beneficial. Some are not. But these little guys were in our woods and property long before it was our woods and property. Most harmful species were introduced here from somewhere else. Today, some will hibernate. Fifty years from now, they will wake up, and still be here. Many of us won’t be. There are advantages to moving at a snail’s pace. 26 MARCH 2016

Alabama Living

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A Tale of Four Seasons

How to give your yard four-season interest

Spring bulbs add the season’s first color to this garden.

Story and photos by George Wiegel


ometimes it’s not easy making a yard look good even in one season, much less all four. Yet high on many a landscaping wish list lately is the goal of creating a yard that changes with the seasons and looks good in all of them. The job is a little easier in spring to early summer when the majority of plants bloom and in moderate climates where seasonal differences aren’t as harsh. It’s possible to milk the most out of any landscape anywhere with good planning. The key to that is picking a diverse selection of plants that has something different going on at different times of the year. Too often that doesn’t happen because gardening tends to be viewed as a “spring thing.” The result is that everyone shows up at the garden center as the weather warms in spring and ends up buying the same plants that happen to be peaking then. A crape myrtle, for example, that will bloom beautifully by late summer, but that looks like a bare set of moose antlers at purchase time, has little chance next to an azalea that’s blooming in full glory. Buy your plants at the same time year after year, and it’s no wonder that many yards end up as one-season wonders.

If you’d like to start spreading out your interest this season, here are 10 ways to do it:

Grasses have grown and perennials bloom at different times throughout summer in the same garden.

The ornamental grasses that were green in summer have turned golden by fall, and the background tree has taken on its deep-red fall foliage.

1.) Add more variety. Plant more plants and different kinds of them. You’ll get multi-season change and interest just by dumb luck. Even when planting a particular species, choose several different varieties of it to capitalize on their differences. 2.) Evaluate your seasonal weaknesses. Do homework into what plants are in prime form at what times. Then think about what each part of your yard looks like in each season, and seek out plants that will add interest to those boring gaps. Make notes during the course of the season to help identify the down times most in need of help. 28 MARCH 2016 The arbor and evergreens take center stage in the same garden in winter.

MARCH | Around Alabama


Montgomery, The Cowboy Cookoff, sponsored by the Alabama Cattleman’s Association, will be held at Garrett Coliseum. Teams must consist of four people, ages 18 and older. Entry fee is $100. The competition will begin at 12 p.m. The award for 1st place from the judging panel is $500. For more information and contest rules, visit

20-21 Sculptor Elliot Brice displays his works at the 2015 Orange Beach Festival of Art. This year’s event will be March 12-13 at the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach.

Saturdays in March, Clanton March Gourd Madness. Award-winning artists of the Chilton County Arts Council and Alabama Gourd Society will display, demonstrate and sell gourd art at the Rose Gallery, 703 2nd Ave. N., every Saturday in March from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Open house to meet and greet the artists is Saturday, March 5. For more information, contact Mack Gothard, 706-299-4596.


Montgomery, The Montgomery Junior Board of Alabama Head Injury Foundation is presenting a silent auction, Art in the Alley: Benefiting AHIF at the Alley Station from 6-9 p.m. A variety of artwork from local artists with disabilities and artists from the community. Also avaliable for auction will be gift certificates to local businesses. Tickets are $30 per person including dinner and live music. All proceeds to remain in the River Region. 334-224-5179.


Theodore, Bellingrath Gardens Azalea Bloom Out. Enjoy the blooms of more than 250,000 vibrant azaleas in an explosion of color throughout the 65 acres of Bellingrath Gardens. For times of the azalea blooms, please check Azalea Watch at


Albertville, Hospice of Marshall County Race to Remember 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run is a family-friendly race through downtown Albertville and the adjacent residential area. This fast, relatively flat USATF-certified course begins and ends at Albertville High School Coliseum. The Race to Remember is the largest annual fundraiser for Hospice of Montgomery County. For more information, contact


Orange Beach, Orange Beach Festival of Art will feature 100 booths of local and regional fine arts, plus stunning displays on the performing arts and music stages. Festivalgoers can also enjoy live, visual arts demonstrations, including hot glass and clay. There will also be tasty offerings from the culinary arts area and hands-on experiences for kids in the Kids Art Alley. Held on the joint grounds of the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach and the Waterfront Park on Canal Road. Admission and parking is free. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.


Enterprise, “The Official Blues Brothers TM Revue,” presented by Dan Aykroyd, Judith Belushi and music director Paul Shaffer. The show combines the comedy and hits from the original movie and pays homage to Chicago’s rich history of blues, gospel and soul music. Hear all the Blues Brothers classics such as “Soul Man,” “Rubber Biscuit,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Raw Hide” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Held at Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. 334-406-2787,


Selma, 41st annual Historic Selma Pilgrimage. Experience hands-on history through guided tours of antebellum homes, museums and more. Enjoy Selma’s special blend of Southern graces and historic places as you tour Alabama’s largest historic district. The home tour is located entirely in the downtown historic district, many within walking distance of each other. Visitors will want to take time to see many other venues such as Brown Chapel AME Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where lunch will be served Saturday.


Auburn, The Auburn Finish on the Fifty 1/2 Marathon, 10K, 5K, and 1-mile race will take place on the streets of Auburn. All races will finish down the course of Tiger Walk into Jordan-Hare Stadium and across the 50-yard line.


Andalusia, The 21st Annual Senior Appreciation Day and Mardi Gras Celebration. Get your recipes out, bake your favorite cookies in Mardi Gras colors and enter the “Sugar Cookie King/Queen” contest.There will also be banner, costume and dance contests. Trophies, money, banners and baskets will be awarded to winners. Main entertainment will be Little Jimmy Reed. 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Kiwanis Building. Must be 21 or older to attend. 334-222-6891.


Guntersville, The Whole Backstage Theater presents “Annie JR.” Based on the popular comic strip and adapted from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Annie JR. features everyone’s favorite little redhead in her very first adventure. With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-tonothing start in 1930s New York City. 256582-7469,

“The Official Blues Brothers TM Revue,” will be at Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center, March 17 at 7 p.m.

To place an event, e-mail or visit You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.

Alabama Living

Dothan, Dothan Gem and Mineral Show will feature vendors from across the country selling gemstones, mineral specimens, fossils, jewelry and lapidary equipment. There will be door prizes, a silent auction and rock exhibits. Held at Houston County Farm Center (south side of Dothan at the intersection of Ross Clark Circle and Highway 53). Free admission and parking. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

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3.) Move beyond two-week wonders. Many of our favorite landscape plants happen to be one-dimensional plants that peak only for a few weeks out of the whole year. They tend to be ones that have the good marketing sense to bloom when the most people are shopping, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, peonies and forsythia.

If your yard is heavy with short-term performers, it’s time to... 4.) Look for harder-workers – plants that do more than one thing in one season. One example is oakleaf hydrangea, the state wildflower of Alabama that blooms white in late spring, gets burgundy foliage in fall and then shows off peeling bark when the leaves drop for winter. Viburnums are shrubs that flower fragrantly in spring, turn yellow or red in fall, then develop berry-sized fruits of red, gold, blue or black from fall into early winter. Some even hold their leaves in winter. And native ninebarks are shrubs that flower pinkish-white in late spring, then get BB-sized clusters of red seed-heads in early summer, then turn blood red in fall, then display peeling stems when bare over winter. Leaning toward plants with multi-season interest is especially helpful in smaller yards where limited space limits the number of different plants that can be used.

A viburnum shows off fragrant white flowers in spring with green leaves, then the same plant (below) develops a different but even showier look in fall with its dark-blue fruits and blood-red foliage.

5.) Pay attention to leaf color, especially in plants that hold their foliage over winter. Blooms are fleeting, but colorful leaves and needles add interest much longer … some of them all year long. 6.) Don’t plant-shop only in spring. You’ll tend to buy only what’s looking good then… or on sale. Shop in different seasons. Make it a point to go to the garden center whenever your yard is looking particularly barren. 7.) Visit public gardens. They’re great for getting ideas and seeing what’s doing what at any given time. Take advantage of public gardens near you because the plants doing well there are likely to do well in the same climate and soils as your yard. Visit these in different seasons, too. Public gardens are especially helpful because plants are usually labeled. 8.) Pay attention to what other people have planted. If you see plants nearby doing something interesting at a time when your yard is snoozing, find out what those plants are and add them to your list. Odds are your neighbors will be flattered that you noticed how nice their plants were looking. 9.) Don’t overlook the “hardscaping.” These are the paver walks, the stone walls, the arbors, the fences, the benches and the other non-plant features of the landscape. Not only do they add structure or “bones” to the look during the growing season, they’re at their best in winter when many to most plants are off stage. 10.) Add dedicated seasonal gardens. In addition to mixing plants with multi-season interest throughout the yard, consider planning whole gardens that peak in a particular season. Load each of those gardens with plants at their best in each assigned season, for example, a summer garden filled with annual flowers and summer bulbs, and a fall garden highlighted with plants that get late-season berries and turn leaf color. 30 MARCH 2016

Four good books to help you with your four-season homework:

• “Continuous Bloom: A Month-by-Month Guide to Nonstop Color in the Perennial Garden” by Pam Duthie (Chicago Review Press, $49.95, 2000). • “Time-Tested Plants: Thirty Years in a Four-Season Landscape” by Pamela Harper (Timber Press, $39.94, 2005). • The “Nonstop Color Garden” by Nellie Neal (Cool Springs Press, $24.99 paperback, 2014). • “The Nonstop Garden” by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner (Timber Press, $19.95 paperback, 2014).

Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 31

32 MARCH 2016

Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 33

Upgrades ahead for

Gulf State Park

By Emmett Burnett


“For a state to have such a small piece of coastline, the vision to have a state park is incredible.” 34 MARCH 2016


early 12 years ago, Hurricane Ivan devastated Alabama Gulf line. Dunes are not just pretty, according to project officials, but State Park, demolishing the convention center, wrecking faare vital for wildlife habitat and wind and surf protection. But cilities, and erasing sand dunes. Orange Beach/Gulf Shores’ beach work is just the tip of the sandcastle. beachside playground was gone with the wind. But today the winds “Everyone recognizes the tremendous asset we have with Gulf of change are blowing for the better. State Park,” says Cooper Shattuck, execMajor upgrades are in store for the utive director for the University of Alastate’s wilderness wonder, visited annualbama System project. But people do not ly by 600,000 people and served by Baldrealize how large an area Gulf State Park win EMC. It is part of the Gulf State Park encompasses. “The beach is just a piece – Enhancement Project, administered by granted, a two-mile long gorgeous piece the University of Alabama System, and – but the park land covers 6,000 acres.” with secured funding of $135 million. Even many longtime Baldwin and MoThe project was launched through an bile County residents do not realize the $85.5 million allocation of early restovastness. Turn off the beach highway to ration dollars from the BP oil spill. In the winding roads of Coyote Crossing, 2016, shovels hit the sand. Rattlesnake Ridge, and Cotton Bayou. About 10 miles of new walking, cycling and running On the beach where the 1970s conven- trails will be built as part of the enhancement project. Adventure awaits, as colorful as the roads PHOTO COURTESY OF ALABAMA GULF COAST CVB tion center used to be, a new one is comleading to it. Whether your interests are ing. But this one will be a lodge, physically smaller, with approxia fishing cork bobbing in the surf or a golf ball bobbing on the 9th mately 350 rooms, meeting spaces, restaurants, and other features hole, there is something here for you. architecturally smarter, and environmentally friendlier. And for those tiring of the beaches - if that’s possible - the park In addition, more than 50 football fields’ worth of sand dune has three inland lakes: Little, Middle and Shelby. Secluded cabrestoration work is under way to replace the Ivan-ravaged coastins dot the shorelines. Hiking, bicycle trails, wildlife observation


Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 35

areas, sailing, kayaking, canoeing opportunities are around each corner. And look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No, it’s a 30 mph Ohio snowbird, zip-lining across treetops. And you can, too. For the camping purist, last summer Gulf State Park premiered its newest attraction, the Outpost Campsites: Bonanza, the Duke and the Alamo. Each has tents that sleep four, already set up. Each comes with a bathroom, about 3/10 of a mile away; a public bathhouse is also included, about two miles away. For less primitive wilderness experiences, more like Daniel Boone with a microwave oven, try one of 20 cabins and 11 cottages, minutes from sandy saltwater shores. Some cabins line the lake in a pristine wilderness community. Others are on individual lots, nestled almost hidden from road view, with exclusive access to guests and occasional free range pelicans. Much more is coming. “There is nothing like it in the U.S.,” Shattuck notes about what is constantly a top Alabama tourist destination. “It is a unique piece of property. For a state to have such a small piece of coastline, the vision to have a state park is incredible.” He adds, “Things have changed so much since the convention center was built in the 1970s. Construction materials, designs, and people’s expectations are different, too, and we will meet those expectations. This will not be a tower plopped down on the sand.” The new lodge is set to open in spring 2018. New sand dunes are set to open this year. Some assembly required. Do not think of a dune as a mound of sand. “Think of it as a living organism. It’s like a body,” says Jill Allen Dixon of Sasaki Associates and dune restoration project manager. “The front part is the first line of defense against storms but there are other, secondary layers. Dunes also are wildlife habitats. “Dunes grow over time,” she adds. “Currents in the gulf pick up sand and redistribute it along the Gulf Coast. The dunes are

always changing and restoring” themselves. And they get by with a little help from a friend. The restoration project teams will be ‘seeding’ dunes with discarded Christmas trees and building ‘dune fences,’ both designed to trap and hold sand in place until the natural structure is established. The project will move relatively fast, possibly within a month, according to workers. But it will be monitored for at least a year, to check progress. Building a lodge to replace the convention center and dune restoration are two of the park’s five key components. The others include: • Enhancing the visitor experience – including about 10 miles of new walking, cycling, and running trails and approximately 3.5 miles of enhancements to existing park trails will be built/implemented throughout the park. • Building an environmental information center – An interactive exhibit space is planned for hosting meetings and educational spaces. The new facility will feature indoor and outdoor educational information devoted to the unique coastal environment. • Creating a research and education center – the new building’s component will be designed to expand capacity for research and education programs through its educational spaces and laboratories for researchers, including K-12 students. But for most people, the park’s education system is self-study, on its golf course, pine forest picnic tables, or the Gulf State Pier, extending 1,500 feet offshore. Alabama Gulf State Park is one of America’s only public playgrounds with ocean shores and thick forests in the same park. And much more is coming. For more information, visit:

Dune fencing is used to trap sand from blowing wind, which helps to restore the dunes.


36 MARCH 2016

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MARCH 2016 37

| Gardens |

Garlic: An easy-to-grow and tasty protector


t has been used for some 7,000 years to fuel the building of pyramids and the athleticism of early Olympians, ward off vampires and other pests (including some humans), treat all manner of illnesses and add exceptional flavor to food. “It” is garlic, a relative of onions, shallots, leeks and chives (all members of the Allium genus) that originated in Asia but became naturalized across the globe as humankind embraced it for its culinary, medicinal and mystical qualities. In early human times, garlic was used in many religious rituals and was eaten to increase strength and enhance physical performance. It was also thought to be effective against any number of ailments, a fact born out today — scientists have found that eating garlic can help protect us from cancer, hypertension and other illnesses and provides antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits. Though there’s no scientific proof that garlic fends off garden pests and vampires, it does appear to repel mosquitoes and fleas (though it should be used judiciously with pets). Most of us, however, just love garlic for its taste, and these days we have hundreds of garlic varieties to choose from, each with its own nuanced flavor. Garlic is also quite easy to grow in Alabama, though knowing a little about the types of garlic and their growing requirements helps ensure the best success. So here’s a little garlic primer. True garlics are divided into two categories – hardneck and softneck. Like their names, hardneck garlics have stiff stems that are typically removed at harvest while softneck garlics have soft stems that can be braided into garlands for curing, storing and displaying. Elephant garlic, which is quite popular for its giant bulbs, is actually a type of leek rather than a true garlic and produces milder-tasting cloves.

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@

38 MARCH 2016

Because all these plants originated in colder climates, the greatest challenge for Alabama growers is providing just the right amount of cold to help them develop big, plump bulbs. And because softneck garlics typically require the fewest chilling hours, they are a great choice for growing in Alabama; however, there’s nothing wrong with trying them all in your garden. Regardless of the type you choose, garlics should be planted in the fall (October and November for north and central Alabama and on through January in south Alabama). Refrigerating the bulbs for 6 to 8 weeks prior to planting can also give them an extra boost, though chilling requirements vary depending on the variety, so check their planting guides to figure out how long they need to be kept in the fridge.

Prepare your garlic bed now

Garlics prefer loose, well-drained soils with lots of organic matter and they don’t compete well with weeds. While we can’t plant them right now, we can use this spring and summer to prepare a garlic bed for fall planting. (They can be a bit invasive, so giving them a bed to themselves is a good idea.) Choose a spot with partial sun, but shady enough so the soil stays cool as the bulbs mature. If the soil gets too warm too fast it can slow down the bulbs’ development. You can also lay a wooden board, sheet of shade cloth or a loose, deep layer of mulch on top of the soil near the base of the plants in early spring to keep the soil cooler. Garlic is typically ready to harvest in Alabama during May and June after the plants’ leaves begin to brown and die away. Carefully dig up the bulbs, shake off any excess dirt (do not wash them, though) and hang or lay them out to cure in a cool, shaded and well-ventilated spot for about a month. This curing process helps eliminate that green garlic flavor and enriches their flavors. Cured garlic keeps for 9 months or longer without refrigeration, so you’ll have

some at hand all year to use in your own dishes (or try some of the garlic recipes in this month’s Alabama Living food section on page 46) and of course to keep those pesky ailments, bugs and vampires away. Oh, and hang on to some of the biggest, nicest bulbs to replant the following fall. To learn more about growing garlic in Alabama, check out the Alabama Cooperative Extension publication Add Garlic to Your Garden (ANR-1093), which can be found at ANR-1093/ANR-1093.pdf) or the Southern Garden Growers Guide at

March Tips

 If you haven’t already done so, get a soil test!  Amend your garden soil with compost, manure, peat moss and any fertilizer recommended from your soil test.  Plant cool season peas, asparagus, horseradish and artichokes.  Plant eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, early potatoes and radish seeds.  Plant strawberries, blueberries, grapes and fruit trees.  Sow seeds for tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and other spring vegetables.  Transplant shrubs and trees.  As new spring growth appears, remove winter mulches from garden beds and transplant summer-blooming perennials.  Get lawn mowers and other garden equipment to ready them for the coming season.  Prune or pinch back house plants that are getting leggy and begin fertilizing them with a diluted solution of plant food.  Begin weeding garden or flowerbeds as soon as weeds emerge.  Clean out birdhouses and feeders.

Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 39

| Outdoors |

Turkey numbers down, but optimism rising


urkey hunters hope to spot line several large creeks. more birds when the 2016 sea“Oakmulgee WMA had a really son begins across most of Alagood turkey population for many bama on March 15. During the past years,” says Chris Cook, a state biolfew years, turkey populations have ogist from Northport. “It has a good dropped, but that trend might change. mix of open areas, which are good “During the past five years, Alabugging areas for poults, as well as bama turkey numbers slightly degood areas for seed-producing plants clined from about 500,000 to 400,000 that turkeys need for food all year statewide, but that’s only an estimate,” long.” says Steve Barnett, the Alabama DiJames D. Martin-Skyline WMA vision of Wildlife and Freshwater covers 60,732 acres of mountainous Fisheries’ Wild Turkey Project Study terrain along the Tennessee state line Leader. “Turkey numbers can vary Glenn Wheeler arranges Knight and Hale turkey decoys for near Scottsboro in Jackson County. a hunt. PHOTO BY JOHN N. FELSHER greatly from one site to the next.” Skyline produced a 12-year high of 57 Turkeys thrive in hardwood bottomgobblers in 2015, up three from the previAcross Alabama, hens produced slightly lands and diverse forests where they roost ous year. more than two poults per year from 2010 in trees. They also like fields and meadows “Skyline WMA has a lot of rugged to 2012. Production dropped to 1.43 poults where they can catch insects. Poults, or jumountains with abundant hardwoods and in 2013, but rose slightly to 1.74 by 2015. venile birds, rely heavily upon insects for some pines,” says Steve Bryant, an ADWFF Turkeys can live about 10 years, but huntfood. Turkeys also need nesting cover. wildlife biologist in Jacksonville. “It also ers typically kill two-year-old birds. There“Most wildlife biologists feel that the has a reasonable percentage of area manfore, hunter success largely depends upon turkey population is declining because of aged for early succession vegetation.” how the breeding season went two years a lack of good nesting and brood-rearing Barbour WMA covers 28,214 acres of earlier. habitat,” Barnett says. “The best turkey Barbour and Bullock counties near Clay“The good news, based upon turkey woods are those with open canopies so a ton. The area consists of mixed upland hunter surveys comparing 2014 to 2015, lot of sunlight reaches the ground, encourpine forests with some hardwood drains, hunters saw a lot more jakes, or immature aging ground-layer plants to grow. It can’t swamps, hills and hollows. Oak and hickmale turkeys, during the 2015 season,” be so thick that poults can’t move through ory trees line several streams in the area. Barnett says. “That should bode well for it, but enough to provide cover from preda“Historically, Barbour WMA has had the upcoming season. Turkeys about two tors. They need plants that harbor good inhigh turkey harvests,” Barnett says. “Chocyears old typically gobble the most. Like all sect populations because that’s what poults colocco also has a good turkey population. animals, turkey populations go in cycles. I mostly eat.” Hunters killed 80 turkeys on it in the 2015 hope we are in the valley of that cycle and Increasing predator populations, such spring season. Freedom Hills is another rebounding. We need some consecutive as bobcats, foxes and coyotes, also affect good area.” years of good brood rearing success.” turkey populations. Birds of prey, such as Dating to 1940, Choccolocco WMA covWorking with Auburn University, the hawks and eagles, take many poults. In ers 56,838 acres of Cleburne County near state began trapping turkeys on Oakmuladdition, increasing numbers of skunks, Heflin. Very hilly, Choccolocco contains gee, James D. Martin-Skyline and Barbour opossums and raccoons can hurt turkey mostly restored longleaf pine forests with wildlife management areas in early 2015 populations. These animals raid nests and good ground cover. Freedom Hills WMA to fit them with radio transmitters and leg eat turkey eggs. Years ago, people used to covers 31,868 acres of Colbert County near bands. Data collected will provide biolotrap these animals for fur, but few people Cherokee. The area consists mostly of magists with information about turkey movehunt or trap these furbearers now. ture upland hardwoods and mixed pine ments, reproduction and survival rates on To sustain a viable population, each turand hardwood forests. the study areas. The research project will key hen must produce two poults per year. Turkey season runs through April 30 last several years. in most of the state. In other parts of AlPart of the Talladega National Forest, abama, the season lasts from April 1-30 or Oakmulgee WMA includes 44,500 acres in John N. Felsher is a April 22-26 depending upon the location. Bibb, Hale, Perry and Tuscaloosa counties freelance writer and Consult for specifsoutheast of Tuscaloosa. One of the most photographer who writes ic zone boundaries. In addition, season from Semmes, Ala. scenic public properties in Alabama, OakContact him through dates and rules on public areas may differ, mulgee primarily consists of longleaf pine his website at www. so check the regulations carefully before forests on broad, sloping ridges interlaced hunting any area. with steams and floodplains. Hardwoods

40 MARCH 2016

Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time.

a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major

MAR. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 APR. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

08:01 09:31 10:01 10:31 11:01 11:31 -06:16 12:31 12:46 01:16 01:46 02:16 02:46 12:16 10:01 08:31 09:16 09:46 10:31 05:01 05:31 12:01 12:46 01:16 02:01 02:46 03:31 09:31 11:46 09:16 09:46 10:16 04:16 04:31 05:01 -12:01 12:31 01:01 01:31 02:16 03:01 04:46 09:46 08:01

Alabama Living

03:31 04:01 04:31 05:01 05:16 05:31 05:46 12:01 06:31 06:46 07:01 07:16 07:46 08:01 08:31 02:01 02:46 03:31 04:01 04:31 11:01 11:31 06:01 06:31 07:01 07:31 08:01 08:31 01:01 02:31 03:16 03:31 04:01 10:46 11:01 11:31 05:16 05:31 06:01 06:16 06:31 07:01 07:31 08:16 12:46 01:46

12:01 01:46 03:01 04:01 04:31 05:16 06:01 06:31 07:01 07:46 08:31 09:16 10:31 ---12:31 02:16 03:31 04:16 05:16 -06:46 07:46 08:31 09:46 11:01 ---01:46 03:01 04:01 04:46 05:16 11:31 06:31 07:16 07:46 08:31 09:16 10:16 11:31 --12:16

08:16 09:16 10:01 10:31 11:01 11:31 12:01 12:16 12:46 01:16 01:46 02:16 03:01 03:46 05:01 06:46 08:01 09:01 10:01 10:46 11:16 06:01 12:16 01:01 01:46 02:31 03:31 04:31 06:01 07:16 08:31 09:16 10:01 10:31 11:01 06:01 12:01 12:16 12:46 01:16 01:46 02:31 03:16 04:16 05:46 07:16

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MARCH 2016 41

| Worth the drive |

Delectable desserts await patrons at Keep Your Fork Café Story and photos by Jennifer Crossley Howard


either Juanita Healy nor her business partner Donna Reeves Robertson had restaurant experience when they opened Keep Your Fork Cafe last May in downtown Decatur, but they haven’t looked back. They haven’t had time to. Workdays often begin at 3 a.m. when they begin baking Danish pastries and croissants and usually end 12 hours later. When Healy and Robertson made an offer on the former All-Wright Bakery & Eatery, the restaurant wasn’t even for sale. But by the end of the week, their offer was accepted. “I’ve always been one of those make up your mind and do it people,” Healy says.

Robin Oden, cake decorator and food prepper, is one of four full-time and two part-time workers at Keep Your Fork. She takes lunch rolls out of the bakery’s original oven from the 1930s.

42 MARCH 2016

Healy decided to leave her career as a realtor, and Robertson had worked as a dental hygienist since the 1980s. All-Wright Bakery & Eatery, a Decatur institution, thrived since 1946 under various ownerships. Keep Your Fork still serves breakfast and lunch, including quiches and tuna melts. The bakery makes the date bars All-Wright was known for, and specializes in the sweet tooth, particularly cheesecake. Healy baked them at home for 15 years, and then she ran out of space. “My friends joke that I needed a commercial oven, and a restaurant came with it,” she says. She and Robertson inherited a large, black oven with the AllWright building that they rent. The oven, which would look at home in any Grimm’s fairy tale, dates to 1935. The cafe sells 10-inch and 4-inch cheesecakes with such traditional flavors as Bailey’s Irish Cream and caramel-chocolate turtle. But there are also some unexpected recipes, such as balsamic vinegar and basil and bourbon and blackberry. “I can’t keep them in the case,” Healy says. Robertson has perfected chicken salad on sourdough bread and

Juanita Healy, co-owner of Keep Your Fork, has been making cheesecake for 15 years, but plain recipes are her least favorite to cook. Here is a piece of dressed-up New York-Style cheesecake.

cookies, especially fruitcake ones that were a hit around Christmas. The transition of customers from AllWright to Keep Your Fork has been mostly seamless. “We had to win over a few people,” Healy says. Regulars include an older couple that visits once a week and a group of doctors, lawyers and businessmen. “We need to give them a key if we ever have bad weather and can’t come in,” Robertson joked. The men stay about an hour drinking coffee. “They talk football, politics, and women,” Healy says. “We laugh at that.” Both women wore rhinestone fork pens and scurried around the dining area to help customers on a recent winter afternoon. Consistency is key to running a successful restaurant, Robertson said. “You’ve got to do the same thing, and do it every day,” she says. Keep Your Fork Café 224 Moulton St. E., Decatur, AL 35601 256-353-2602 Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday Find them on Facebook: Keep Your Fork Café


Teaming with other restaurants

Keep Your Fork teams with other Decatur restaurants including Albany Bistro, for whom the cafe bakes a signature Coffee & Toffee cheesecake, and Simp McGhee’s. Tennessee Valley Pecan Company sells the cafe’s mini pecan muffins and pecan pies, which feature the former’s pecans. “We like working with local people, and are very behind the local food movement,” Healy says. Much of the restaurant looks the same as when it was AllWright: a wood and mirror display case, black and white flooring and an antique mixer painted blue and green remains in front of the cafe. Teal and yellow accent colors around the restaurant represent tragedy and hope that have touched both women’s lives. Teal represents ovarian cancer awareness and yellow represents suicide prevention. Robertson lost her brother to suicide in 2007; Healy’s daughter died of ovarian cancer in 2004. Robertson remains involved with Hospice of the Valley to talk with suicide survivors, and the women support The Brooke Hill Run for Awareness in Decatur, named for Healy’s daughter. Robertson and Healy honor the past while looking to the future, which includes a lot of cheesecake. Healy’s orders easily reach 60 to 70 dozen. When you’re eating out, you keep your fork for dessert. The women chose to name their bakery as such because, “the best is yet to come,” Healy says.

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The cafe offers outdoor dining. Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 43

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MARCH 2016 45

| Alabama Recipes |

garlic GET TO KNOW


46 MARCH 2016


f you have a tongue, and that tongue is dotted with working taste buds, you should get to know garlic. If you already have a relationship with this bulbous, potent plant, I urge you to get even closer and delve into all it offers in the way of taste. Really, unless you’re a vampire, there’s no reason to shy away from garlic. Forget “garlic breath.” There are quick, easy remedies (see below). And if you think you don’t like it — “It’s so strong!”— I’m betting you’ve never had it roasted or pickled, where high heat or vinegar mellows and softens its sharpness. Because of its strength, garlic often remains in the background, becoming the foundation to support a dish’s layers of other complex flavors. A few of this month’s recipes use it this way. But when it’s allowed to stand on it’s own, it truly shines. The recipe from our cook of the month and my personal rendition of a classic both put the spotlight on garlic.

- Jennifer Kornegay

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (Photo on opposite page)

1 chicken, broken down to eight pieces (could also use eight, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs) 40 cloves of garlic, peeled 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 ½ tablespoons butter ¼ cup white wine 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary ½ cup chicken stock Salt and pepper Heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces, and working in batches, cook them, starting with the skin side down, about five minutes on each side. Once the last of the pieces have been browned, remove them from the pot and add the garlic. Cook the garlic, stirring often, about 10 minutes. It should get browned a bit. Add the wine and stir to remove any bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken back to the pot and pour in any juices. Sprinkle the rosemary on top and cover. Turn the heat back to medium. You want the liquid in the pot simmering, but not at a full boil. Cook for 35-45 minutes or until chicken is done. Check often to make sure you don’t burn the garlic. Once the chicken is done, remove it and most of the garlic to a plate and set aside. Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Mash the garlic left in the pot (about 6 to 8 cloves) into the sauce. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 to 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add salt if needed. Drizzle over the chicken right before serving.

Cook of the Month Mary Donaldson Covington EC


ary has been making her Speedy Mushrooms with Garlic Butter for so long, she can’t remember exactly what inspired it, other than a love of garlic and mushrooms and an appreciation for easy ways to combine two of her favorites. “The recipe is so good and so simple; that’s why I make it so much, and I’ve just made it for forever,” she said. She offered this tip: “You can use any leftover garlic butter in many other ways.” Spreading some on a baguette and broiling it to create garlic bread is one idea. Or use it as the base for a sautéed onion and mushroom steak sauce.

Speedy Mushrooms in Garlic Butter (Pictured above)

½ 1 3 2

cup butter tablespoon green onion tops, finely chopped cloves garlic, minced tablespoons parsley, finely chopped Dash of seasoned pepper 1 pound fresh mushrooms

Blend butter, onion, garlic, parsley and pepper. Cover and chill. (Unused garlic butter can be kept in refrigerator.) Rinse, clean and dry mushrooms; remove stems. Fill each cap with ½ teaspoon garlic butter and arrange in the serving dish. Cook 1 or 2 dozen mushrooms, uncovered, on HIGH 2 to 4 minutes. (I use a glass, microwave-approved pie plate to cook and serve.) Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 47

Cheach Chicken

(Chipotle Peach Glazed Chicken)

1 whole chicken Olive oil Poultry seasoning 1 apple 2 cloves garlic ½ cup white wine Glaze sauce: ½ cup peach preserves 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 3 chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed ½ cup of white wine ¼ tablespoon of minced garlic ¼ tablespoon of nutmeg ½ teaspoon of kosher salt ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper In a saucepan on medium heat, melt t gether and stir glaze sauce ingredients and set aside. Coat chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Chop apple and place inside cavity along with 2 whole cloves of garlic. Fold neck skin over and pin to trap flavor while cooking. Grill indirect at 200 degrees for 1 ½ hours, basting every 30 minutes with white wine. Coat chicken with glaze sauce and grill for 10 more minutes until chicken reaches 165 -170 degrees. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving so juices can flow back throughout the meat. Kirk Vantrease Cullman EC

Tortellini Soup 1 pound Italian sausage, browned 2 tablespoons minced garlic, sauteed 5 cups chicken broth One large can spinach 2 large cans petite chopped stewed tomatoes 1 large package cheese or spinach/ cheese tortellini Small carton cream Simmer first five ingredients for 20-30 minutes. Add in tortellini and cook until tender. Stir in cream just before serving. Jennifer Dansby Covington EC

48 MARCH 2016

Football Fan Spinach Dip 1 2 1 ½

pound frozen spinach cups sour cream cup mayonnaise teaspoon Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning 1 onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, crushed and then diced Fritos corn chips

Pour frozen spinach in a pan and cover with water. Boil for 3-5 minutes. Drain well (squeezing may be required to prevent the dip from being soupy.) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. Chill 6-8 hours before serving with corn chips. Elaina Gordon Southern Pine EC





Garlic Red Potatoes 2 pounds red potatoes, quartered ¼ cup butter, melted 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic 1 teaspoon salt 1 lemon, juiced 1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese Real bacon bits (optional topping) Chopped green onions (optional topping) Wash and quarter the potatoes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place potatoes in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl combine melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Pour over the potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes. Bake covered for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until potatoes are golden in color. Optional: Sprinkle top with bacon bits and green onions before serving and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Kim Robertson Baldwin EMC Follow us!


Aroma Eliminators Even those of us who love garlic have to admit that it’s scent can be overwhelming, and when it clings to your hands and your breath, it becomes downright stinky. Here’s how to banish the smell.

ON YOUR HANDS Rub a mixture of lemon juice and salt over your fingers for a few seconds and then rinse. Or rub your smelly digits on a stainless steel utensil while running cool water over them and then wash with soap.

GARLIC BREATH Chew on fresh mint or parsley, eat some fresh apple, swish some lemon juice around in your mouth or suck on a lemon wedge for a minute.

Send us your recipes!

All-Purpose Garlic Sauce

Please send us your original recipes, developed by you or family members, and not ones copied from a book or magazine. You may adapt a recipe from another source by changing as little as the amount of one ingredient. Cook of the Month winners will receive $50, and may win “Cook of the Month” only once per calendar year.

12 cloves of garlic, peeled Juice from 1 lemon 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 ½ cups of high-quality extra virgin olive oil

Share a story about your recipe! Whether it’s your grandmother’s best cake or your uncle’s camp stew, every recipe has a story behind it. We’ll pay $50 for the best recipe-related story each month. Submit: Online: Email: Mail: Recipes, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

In small food processor or blender combine all ingredients. Process until you reach desired consistency and thickness. Store in a tightly lidded jar in the refrigerator. Improves with keeping in the refrigerator. Yields 2 cups. Shari Lowery Pioneer EC Cook’s Note:

This is one way I use up the excess garlic I grow in my garden. I use this sauce to flavor soups, stews, vegetables, as a spread for garlic bread or toss with pasta and add olives and cherry tomatoes. Endless possibilities.

Recipe Themes and Deadlines: May June

Chicken Salad Picnic Dishes

March April

8 8





mellow out

Roasting garlic is the best way to take its astringency down a few notches; the heat burnishes each clove bronze and softens both its texture and taste, making it a little sweet and mild enough to be spread on some crusty bread and enjoyed as is. But it’s also delish in salad dressings, sauces and soups. And the intoxicating scent is one you won’t be scrambling to get rid of. Here’s how you do it.

Alabama Living

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove any outer layers of skin that are loose, but leave the head intact. Slice very top off of it, exposing the tops of the cloves.

Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil over it and wrap it up in foil. Place in a shallow baking dish or on a cookie sheet.

Roasting time will vary based on the size of the head and its cloves. Check it at about 45 minutes. It’s done when all of the cloves are very soft.

Once cool, squeeze the now caramelized cloves free of the head. If you’re not using it right away or have leftovers, store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

MARCH 2016 49

ATTENTION HVAC, PLUMBING, ROOFING, LANDSCAPING, CONSTRUCTION, AUTOMOTIVE, HEALTHCARE, INSURANCE, FINANCIAL SERVICES, IT & TELECOM, MANUFACTURING, ETC. As a local business, you may not need to advertise to the entire state. But what about the 15,000+ consumers in the Clarke-Washington EMC market? Alabama Living, the state’s largest publication, is offering this page to the first local business that wants to stand out from the competition and put its product/service in front of Clarke-Washington’s members.

This page will be gone fast. It’s efficient and effective marketing. Call 800.410.2737 or email:

50 MARCH 2016

Energy Efficiency Tip of the Month

Consider purchasing rechargeable batteries – and an ENERGY STAR charger for them – which are more cost effective than disposable batteries. In the U.S. alone, more energy-efficient battery chargers could save families more than $170 million annually. Source:

Alabama Living

MARCH 2016  51

| Our Sources Say |

Out of the wall? There’s a lot involved in getting electricity to your home


speak to a number of civic clubs, and I always start with a question: Where does electricity come from? The answers are surprising because they are so consistently wrong. The answer I get most often is, “Out of the wall.” Most people just don’t know much about electricity. Before electricity gets into the wall it must be generated in a power plant of some type and delivered through transmission lines and distribution lines. Electricity is most commonly generated by combusting or burning some type of fuel. Fossil fuels, generally coal and natural gas, are burned to produce heat or spin turbines to make electricity. In nuclear plants nuclear fuel produces the heat. Turbines are spun in hydro dams and windmills by falling water or wind to make electricity. Electricity from the sun is generated by the reaction of sunlight across chemical elements in solar arrays. Nationally, about two-thirds of the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, about 20 percent comes from nuclear generation and about 14 percent from renewables, including hydro power. About 95 percent of the electricity PowerSouth Energy Cooperative generates for your local electric cooperative comes from burning either coal or natural gas. In 2015, 69 percent of PowerSouth’s electricity was produced from natural gas, 27 percent from coal, 4 percent from hydro and 0.4 percent from renewables. These fuels are all different in energy content, cost and application. Operators monitor load levels, fuel costs, plant generation and electricity costs minute-by-minute to provide the most reliable and most economic electric service for you. Few people know where electricity comes from, but even fewer know how complex the process is of securing fuels, running generation plants, balancing loads, maintaining transmission lines and substations and keeping the lights on about 99.999 percent of the time. This month I will leave you with a few facts about the fuels we use to make electricity.

Each fuel is unique

Coal has been used for decades to provide a base load—a reliable and low cost supply of electricity. At one time coal provided around 80 percent of the electricity in the country. This year coal will provide less than a third of the electricity. As I’ve described in

earlier columns, coal generation is under attack by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are blamed for global warming. However, the reason the amount of coal-generated electricity has declined is not because it is not efficient or reliable; it is because the price of natural gas has dropped remarkably. Natural gas now accounts for almost two-thirds of PowerSouth’s electric generation and is growing. Not only is natural gas cheaper than coal, natural gas generation plants are more versatile than coal plants and can be brought online more quickly to meet changing conditions. Hydroelectric generation is cheaper to run than coal or natural gas, but the availability is limited.

Diversity is good

Just like each fuel has its advantages, each has disadvantages. Those disadvantages can be overcome by not relying on just one source, but a diverse mix of fuels, and by having the ability to switch fuels when supply or cost changes. Coal faces environmental rules that will likely drive its cost up. Natural gas prices are low today, but have a history of sharp increases. Hydroelectric power is limited in quantity, especially when river levels fall. Wind and solar power are not available when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. The price history of natural gas shows the importance of fuel diversity. Today natural gas is just over $2 per million BTU. But in 2008 the price was $16. If the price of any fuel increases by 8 times, a utility needs the ability and flexibility to switch to another fuel.

Making and delivering electricity requires highly skilled experts

Really good people and sophisticated systems and tools coordinate the costs and fuel inputs every hour of every day to ensure you have reliable and affordable electricity. Behind all the systems those really good people are working hard to keep your lights on and your homes warm. There really is a lot involved in getting electricity out of the wall. I hope you have a good month.n

Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative

52 MARCH 2016

| Market Place |


30x50x10 with sliding door and man door.



Additional delivery may apply pending location.


Alabama Living

MARCH 2016 53

| Alabama Snapshots | RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at and on our Facebook page. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos.

Unique Mailboxes





1. Post made from dead red cedar, a gift from beautiful Alabama. SUBMITTED BY Forrest Felmlee, Guntersville. 2. 140 Farmall Tractor mailbox made by Brenda’s son-inlaw and grandson. SUBMITTED BY Brenda Freeman, Bremen. 3. Jack Dorman made this one-of-a-kind mailbox. SUBMITTED BY Marian Dorman, Red Level. 4. Razzle Dazzle Farm mailbox in Elsanor, Alabama. SUBMITTED BY Michael and Amy Fooladi, Robertsdale.

Submit Your Images! May Theme: “I Made This” Deadline for May: March 31 SUBMIT PHOTOS ONLINE: or send color photos with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL 36124

54 MARCH 2016

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