Certificate in Native Plant Studies Program

Adult & Family Classes | Discovery Field Trips | Children's Summer Camps

The Certificate in Native Plant Studies program has as its goal, to raise awareness of the importance of native plants and their value to our environment. Its curriculum consists of core classes, electives, field trips and volunteer service, which together provide a well-rounded education balanced among botany, taxonomy, ecology, conservation and uses of our native Southeastern flora. Classes are held at The Gardens and at other appropriate locations

Program events will be offered throughout the year. Students may begin their earning their certificate at any time, with any course. Certificates will be awarded to those who fulfill requirements within three years, however – anyone is welcome to register for any of the classes.


Click here for a PDF of brochure.

Click here to view some of the past class offerings in the program.

For more information about registration:

Contact 205.414.3950

For more information about the program:
Contact Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion at 205.414.3985 or jmanion@bbgardens.org.

Current Students: Volunteer Service Hours Form


Upcoming Classes, Field Trips and Volunteer Opportunities


NOTE: If you are unable to register using one of the Register Online buttons below, the class may be full,

contact Rona Walters at 205.414.3950 or rwalters@bbgardens.org.

Due to high call and email volume you should expect a response within 24-48 hours.



Plant-Soil Relationships (core)
Instructor: Henry Hughes
Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Saturday, February 7 | 8:30 - 4:30 p.m.
$80 Member | $90 Non-Member

Explore the physical, chemical and biological properties of natural soils as well as the characteristics of the native plant communities growing in them. Plant growth reciprocally modifies soil properties. This class will explore the ways that natural soils and native plants together form unique systems with interdependent living and non-living characteristics. Methods for amending compromised soils to improve plant growth and the technique for obtaining a soil sample for testing will be demonstrated. This class will include some field work.


Native Woody Plants: The Basics and Beyond (elective)
Instructor: Fred Spicer
Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Saturday, February 14 | 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.
$40 Members | $45 Non-Members

As somewhat permanent elements in landscapes, both cultivated and natural, native woody plants play numerous important roles. This in-depth look at basic plant types (tree, shrub, vine, deciduous, evergreen, coniferous) will introduce participants to a glossary of terms essential for understanding this plant group, and identifying its members. Concepts will be illustrated with detailed images as well as the opportunity to observe them in The Gardens. This is an excellent class to attend before enrolling in our seasonal woody plant identification.


Making New Plants - Plant Propagation (elective)
Instructor: Gail Barton
Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Saturday, February 21 | 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.
$40 Members | $45 Non-Members
This hands-on class will focus on growing plants using methods (seeds, cuttings and division) that may be accomplished by home gardeners. After a review of plant reproductive strategies we will explore vegetative propagation techniques (cuttings and division), after which we will focus on seed propagation. Many types of fruit and seed will be examined, followed by information about harvesting techniques and collection timing. Participants will process the fruit and seed of several plant species to prepare it for planting. We will sow seeds or make them available for those who wish to take them home. Additionally, information will be shared about follow-up care - including seed treatments and storage, planting techniques, recommended supplies, watering strategies and winter protection.


Introduction to the Study of Native Plants (core)
Instructor: John Manion
Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Saturday, March 7 | 8:30 - 4:30 p.m.
$80 Members | $90 Non-Members
This full-day introduction to the study of native plants will begin in the classroom and later move outside into The Gardens and greenhouses, where we will correlate much of what we have learned. The class will be a broad overview of several topics relevant to native plants, including: terminology and definitions, why natives, plant conservation, recommended references and historical and contemporary uses in our landscapes. Other topics to be discussed will be plant identification, designing with natives and propagation. This class will benefit those whom have already taken CNPS classes, as well as anyone interested in the topic.


Solon Dixon & Splinter Hill (fieldtrip)
Leaders: Curtis Hansen, Fred Nation, Fred Spicer, John Manion
Location: Andalusia, AL
Friday - Sunday, March 27- 29
$250 Members | $275 Non-Members

Due to its astounding biodiversity, Solon Dixon Center remains one of our favorite locations to go on field trips. On its 5,300 acres there are spring-fed lakes and streams that appear turquoise in color, pitcher plant bogs, cypress ponds, longleaf pine habitats, fascinating rock formations and sand hills. This time we will include a visit to Splinter Hill Bog, The Nature Conservancy in Alabama’s preserve, where grows the largest population of Sarracenia spp. (pitcher plants) in the world! The event fee includes the cost of your room and six meals; transportation to and from the site is not included. Details will be provided once participants have registered. Limit: 14 participants.


Spring-flowering Native Plants (elective)
Instructor: John Manion
Location: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Saturday, April 4 | 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.
$40 Members | $45 Non-Members

One of the most exciting annual events in the southeast is the flowering of our native spring wildflowers, many of them ephemeral. This class will examine what makes a plant an ephemeral and some of the special characteristics they possess. The classroom portion will address numerous aspects of these special plants, as well as other spring blooming native plants, which will be followed by ample time in The Gardens to view and discuss them.


Almond Rock - A Piedmont Granite Dome (field trip)
Trip Leaders: Tom Diggs & John Manion
Saturday, May 16 | 9 - 3 p.m.
Location: Randolph County, AL
$50 Members | $60 Non-Members

Almond Granite Outcrop in Randolph County, AL, one of our state’s most distinctive landscapes, where soil types range from basic to acidic, is inhabited by an array of contrasting unusual plant species – some rare. Situated in the Piedmont physiographic region, this outcrop, which brings to mind the surface of the moon, is home to many fascinating ecotones, due to its geology and hydrology. We will examine a range of diverse habitats ranging in character from xeric to boggy seeps. Participants will see colonies of some very special plants, including one which grows only here and one other location - and even a carnivorous species!


Disclaimer: We appreciate your interest in Birmingham Botanical Gardens' classes for adults and children. Some of our classes may cover the edible, medicinal, cosmetic and aromatic uses of plants. The information presented in our classes, whether delivered by Gardens' staff, volunteers or instructors, is derived from numerous sources which include folklore as well as more authoritative sources. This information is intended solely for educational purposes. We believe this information to be accurate, interesting and useful within an educational context, but any information we may provide about the various uses of plants is not intended to advocate any specific use. Due to the very personal nature of individual chemical tolerances, allergies and other possible negative reactions, you accept full responsibility for any use you may choose to undertake of the plants covered in our classes.