Thanks to Sierra Club of Birmingham and Turkey Creek!

Here are some pics from yesterday's workday at our Roebuck Springs property. The Sierra Club of Birmingham were a huge help in removing invasives and cleaning up around the pool house. Also, we are super grateful to Charles Yeager of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve for coming out on his off day and working so hard. It was very hot (and almost October!) but everyone was happy to help make a difference.

Our Roebuck Springs property is looking better every day, thanks in no small part to our wonderful friends. Thanks to the Sierra Club of Birmingham and Turkey Creek!

The Harvest Moon

Every year approximately 12 complete Moon cycles occur, each corresponding to a synodic month, which is about 29.5 days long. The Harvest Moon (viewable tonight) is the full moon occurring closest to the autumnal equinox, which happens to be this Sunday, the 18th. The Harvest Moon is so called because of the extra evening light it provides for harvest crews working late in the fields. This year, the appearance of the Harvest Moon is even more special due to a coinciding Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. Though not quite the spectacle that other types of lunar eclipse afford, the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse is nonetheless a fascinating phenomena caused by the moon's passing through the outer fringe of Earth's shadow, causing a noticeable "smudge" effect on the moon. Fall is finally here! You can watch the full eclipse tonight live (and outside, of course):

Graze : Birmingham

This Sunday! Don't miss your chance to try the best food, drink, and local farm produce in Birmingham and probably the whole state.

"Graze: Birmingham is a farm-to-fork picnic in which attendees 'graze' on a wide variety of dishes, each produced by a different local farmer/local chef pair. Add in some picnic blankets, live music, and delicious local beverages... and it's a picnic you don't want to miss!"

Tickets may be purchased here:

Oak-leaf hydrangea, Alabama's State Wildflower

The oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia Bartr.) is the official State Wildflower of Alabama, and you can see why. Their pearl-white blooms almost seem to glow beneath the forest canopy. This deciduous shrub can be found in every part of the state, from the coastal plains to the Appalachian foothills to the north (at Ruffner, for example!), and deep within deciduous forests to landscaped lawns and home gardens. The striking white flowers turn a deep rose in summer and even deeper in color to burgundy in the fall.

Chinju No Mori

Photo by and copyright, Joe Nazarian

Almost a hundred years ago, more than 100,000 young people volunteered to plant 100,000 trees in the heart of Tokyo. The trees had been donated from all over Japan in order to create an oasis of sorts, a sacred shrine forest, or chinju no mori, to surround the newly created Meiji Shrine. The future forest would become a self-renewing, naturally evolving and growing green space, sufficient on its own as a living organism and free from human intervention. The 172 acre forest, replete with fishing ponds, pathways, and an iris garden, was designed by Emperor Meiji specifically for Empress Shoken—a place where she could go to renew her energy amidst the bustle of quickly growing city. Today, the forest lives on, renewing itself, and the people of Tokyo, each spring. 

For more information about Meiji Jingu Forest, visit

An Urban Forest Built on Coal

Ruffner recently discovered that it has a German cousin in Rheinelbe, Germany! Starting in 1988, this old mining site was converted into wild urban forest by the government of Nordrhein Westfallen. Now, it continues to thrive as an urban green space where walkers, hikers, and children come to exercise, relax, or simply explore the wonders and beauty of this once blighted area. It's remarkable the similarities you can see between Ruffner's history and mission and that of our distant German relatives.

Our wildlife and green spaces are more important now than they have ever been. In a world of disconnection it is heartening and inspiring to see regular people across the globe fighting to preserve what is the right of every human being, everywhere: to connect with the beauty and quiet power of the natural world.