By Donna Cornelius
In past years, Antiques at the Gardens has been one of the most anticipated annual events at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The multi-day autumn extravaganza has featured antiques dealers, artists and artisans, designers, speakers, authors, and tastemakers – and it’s typically drawn a crowd of people eager to buy, learn and be entertained.
Current COVID-19 restrictions meant this large-scale production had to postpone what would have been its 15th anniversary celebration until next year. But planners have found another way to shine a spotlight on the Gardens and its supporters: Birmingham Blooms. Set for Oct. 4 and presented by IberiaBank, the event is being held in appreciation of BBG individual and corporate sponsors.
A picnic supper in the Dunn Formal Rose Garden and Hill Garden is from 5-7 p.m. The guest of honor is Dr. John Alex Floyd Jr. The long-time supporter and volunteer recently was named director emeritus by the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ board of directors.
The fun starts even earlier. Book signings hosted by Red Diamond Inc. traditionally are a big part of Antiques at the Gardens. Birmingham Blooms will have Red Diamond book signings, too, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., by noted speakers from two past Antiques at the Gardens shows.
One of the featured authors is James Farmer. The Auburn University graduate is a Southern writer, interior designer and speaker who’s gained a reputation for his ability to create familiar and welcoming homes.
Farmer’s Wall Street Journal best-selling books include “A Time to Plant,” “Sip & Savor,” “Porch Living,” “Wreaths for All Seasons,” “A Time to Cook: Dinner on the Grounds,” “A Time to Celebrate,” and “A Place to Call Home.”
His most recent book, “Arriving Home,” includes designs projects from a variety of places, from an Alabama antebellum house to a grand Connecticut country home.
Farmer’s work has been in publications such as Southern Living, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Southern Home, and Flower magazine.
An engaging speaker, he has built his business in Perry, Georgia, his hometown.
Also on the program is Mark D. Sikes, an interior designer and tastemaker who’s working on projects throughout the United States.
Sikes is known for his all-American sensibilities and his fresh take on classical aesthetics. He’s known for creating beautiful and timeless interiors that embody an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
His first book, “Beautiful,” was a New York Times best seller. He’s followed that success with “More Beautiful: All-American Decoration,” which debuted earlier this month and includes a peek into his own Hollywood Hills home as well as the local home of Ragan and Brad Cain, a former chair of Antiques at the Gardens and current Birmingham Blooms committee member.
Sikes’ work has been featured in AD, Veranda, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, the Wall Street Journal, C Magazine, Milieu, and Domino. He’s a member of Elle Decor’s A-List, the magazine’s annual registry of stylish, influential and innovative interior designers.
He’s created rooms for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York, Greystone in Beverly Hills, the Southern Living Idea House in Birmingham, and the Coastal Living Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island.
Sikes has partnered with furniture and fabric manufacturers including Chaddock, Soane, Hudson Valley Lighting, Troy Lighting, Schumacher, Annie Selke, Merida and Blue Pheasant to develop his signature product lines.
Books by Farmer and Sikes will be for sale at Leaf & Petal at the Gardens before and during Birmingham Blooms. There’s no charge to attend the book signings, which are open to the public.
The sunset dinner is a private event for anyone who gives $350 or more to sponsor Birmingham Blooms. Gifts by both individuals and corporations must be made by 8 a.m. on Sept. 28.
Leading Birmingham Blooms are Beverley Hoyt, a former Friends board of directors chairman, and her committee. Tom Underwood is the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ executive director, and Penney Hartline is director of development.
For more information about the event and about sponsorships, call 205-414-3950 or visit bbgardens.org/blooms.
About the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road in Birmingham: A Birmingham Park and Recreation Board facility, the Gardens represent a successful public/private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are open every day from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. A wide variety of educational programs are held year round for adults and children. Proceeds from Birmingham Blooms benefit the ongoing stewardship and enhancement of the Gardens, educational programs and outreach activities.