COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – ‘Alabama is an Arboretum’


Dear Alabama Arboretum Ambassador, yes, that means YOU and all of us from Governor Ivey to the youngest child in our state who just discovered the joy of trees, forests, birds and wildlife which divinely endow “Alabama the Beautiful.” 

This week, a decades-long dream for nature-blessed Cullman County to create an accredited arboretum, or “living tree museum,” took a great step forward. The Cullman County Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between Cullman County Parks and Recreation and the Cullman County Master Gardeners. The arboretum will be at Sportsman Lake Park.

Recognizing progress, The Cullman Tribune is sharing this salute to the natural beauty of our woodlands and encouraging all in our state to become active Alabama Arboretum Ambassadors.


An arboretum, a “living museum” of trees,

Of hardwoods, ornamentals and willows in the breeze,

Woody jasmine vines zigging and zagging up to God,

Alabama, an arboretum rising from the forest sod.

Our ancestors planted shade so that we may rest a bit.

Planted trees, planted hope, vowed to never quit.

Each new generation carries the cheerful toil,

That one and all may rest beneath fertile soil.

A  fellowship of foresters, stewards of the earth.

Deep roots ground our family trees, long before our birth.

Branches reach toward the skies, welcome nesting birds.

Alabama, an arboretum, an art far lovelier than words.

Ask how you can help our trees in country and town.

Some never master gardening, some thumbs are quite brown.

Magical forests don’t grow from wishing nor nature’s quirk.

An Alabama arboretum welcomes your awe and your work.

Alabama, an arboretum, more tulip poplar than tulips,

Keep the trees and honeybees, and time for minty juleps.

Hush! Clear the brush! Help Smokey prevent fire.

Shelter bunnies, beneficial bugs, don’t let them expire.

Few are too old or young to help, and far fewer too precious.

Orchards? Folks with pluck grasp something delicious.

Some give it their all, but all can give some,

An arboretum has opportunity for every Alabamian.

Forests are for owls, eagles, butterflies, flocks of soaring things.

Trees stand tall, help us think up, and make our souls sing.

Loblolly Pine, Magnolia grandiflora, Witch hazel, whatever-the-heck you call ‘em,

Please help your Alabama arboretum.

The earth began in a garden, lush greenness for humankind,

A sanctuary haven for the soul and mind.

Our gardening hands rarely rest, though we fold them to pray,

Alabama, an arboretum from beginning ‘til today!

-written by Ben Johnson South, an arboretum ambassador (Cullman County, AL)

CELEBRATING IN THE WUNDERGARTEN This culinary storytelling series imagines tasty foods from the recipe box of fictional Frau Ruehl, the German American heroine of the folktale, “WUNDERGARTEN.” 

The opening sentence of the tale reads, “Once upon a time, about a hundred and fifty years ago, this happened up in the pine-forested hills of Alabama.” Since we are saluting the state’s woodlands and trees, this recipe is one Frau Ruehl would have loved serving her guests in 1870s Cullman County.




  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup local honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add nuts to heat-resistant bowl.
  3. Melt butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Mix in honey and cayenne pepper and pour mixture over nuts in bowl. Mix well.
  4. Spread coated nuts onto prepared baking sheet and quickly separate nuts using spatula or fork.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir and continue baking until golden brown, 5-10 minutes more.

Thanks to all Alabama Arboretum Ambassadors! AUF WIEDERSEHEN Y’ALL!Find all columns in this series at