COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Grandfather Pine and Grandmother Magnolia


BRING YOUR GRANDMA to SEE “THE GRANDMOTHER MAGNOLIA” and BRING YOUR GRANDPA to see “THE GRANDFATHER PINE” at the Sportsman Lake Park TREE MUSEUM—FREE and open to all, 365 days each year. (Directions: Go to Sportsman Lake Park and take the road to the picnic pavilions, look for the bright red “Welcome Arbor” of the Wildflower Garden, enjoy your shaded walk and look for the tree signs for “The Grandfather Pine” and “The Grandmother Magnolia”—take lots of photos for your family album). The signs for these trees are small (5 inches by 4 inches) and temporary. A clue for you: “The Grandmother Magnolia” and “The Grandfather Pine” have a circle raked in the soil around each tree trunk.

“Mature survivors” is a way to think of “The Grandmother Magnolia” and “The Grandfather Pine.” They have grown in the forest at Sportsman Lake Park for decades. They each have produced offspring. And their offspring have produced offspring. You can think of them as your “family trees.”



Once upon a time, there were two trees born in the same part of the forest.

They looked very different from each other. One was a tiny pine sapling that grew from a seed a woodpecker pulled from a pinecone. The other was a young, glossy-leaf magnolia which came from a seed pod miles away.

The pine tree and the magnolia tree admired each other from some distance. They grew close over the years but each stood strong on its own. They allowed spaces in their togetherness.

The two trees wished each other to grow and thrive. They did not cast shadows on each other.

Together, in the silent memory of the forest where they grow, they co-wrote a lovely poem and the winds which danced between them carried their wishes and hopes up to the heavens.

The tall pine and the shining magnolia love each other but do not hold each other too tightly intertwined.

They grow old together, this Grandmother Magnolia and Grandfather Pine. The two are meant to be together and live happily ever after—at least through the stories told by the rustling leaves and whispering pine needles as they sing a song for the ages throughout the earth.

GRANDPARENTS DAY 2023 is SUNDAY, SEPT. 10. This salute to grandparents is always the first Sunday after Labor Day. We’re thinking forward, here in July. Cullman County Master Gardeners with Cullman County Parks and Recreation welcome you for a special salute to “The Grandmother Magnolia” and “The Grandfather Pine” and all the trees in the arboretum this Grandparents Day.

WUNDERGARTEN,” the folktale set in 1870s Colonial Cullman County, AL was inspired by the enchanting, pine-studded forest at Sportsman Lake Park. The heroine is Fraulein Ruehl, a loving, hard-working, strawberry farming widow and caregiver to her ailing daughter, ZeeBeth.

A grand celebration comes at the end of the tale. We see the revived ZeeBeth with the gardener hero of “WUNDERGARTEN,” Fritz, strolling a wildflower meadow. A wedding, and future grandchildren are likely for Fraulein Ruehl as the story continues. Fraulein Ruehl is a thriving survivor like “THE GRANDMOTHER MAGNOLIA.”


  1. HEIDI’S GRANDFATHER—the gruff hermit who initially resents having to take care of Heidi becomes nurturing, protective, and loving.
  2. LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD’S GRANDMOTHER—is from one of the centuries-old folktales collected by the Brothers Grimm.  The original title was “Little Red Cap.” Red’s dear grannie is eaten by a wolf. Depending on the version one reads, Grannie meets a ghastly end or is merely side-tracked as a notable victim of identity theft.
  3. SOPHIA PETRILLO of “THE GOLDEN GIRLS”—as played in the popular, television sit-com by Estelle Getty is a quick-witted, straight talker and great cook. Here are some of her best one-liners:

–“Your heart is in the right place, but I don’t know where the hell your brain is.”

–“Get to the part where they steal the brain out of the dead body and sew it into your head.”

–“May you put your dentures in upside down and chew your head off.”

–“You drink out of a brown paper bag and suddenly everybody’s your friend.”

  • GRANDPA EDWIN in “LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE”—was played by Oscar-winning actor, Alan Arkin, who died last week. The foul-mouthed but kind, Grandpa Edwin, spends hours helping his granddaughter, Olive, practice her dance routine so she can fulfill her dream of competing in a kid’s beauty pageant. This crusty-yet-warm character has many hilarious lines to share but most are not for this family newspaper. My advice is: put this newspaper aside for an hour or so and laugh your hiney off streaming Grandpa Edwin and Olive in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Here’s one printable, Grandpa Edwin Hoover quote:

“Do you know what a loser is? A real loser is somebody who is so afraid of not winning they don’t even try.”

  • GRANDMA FA in “MULAN”—is a wise and supportive figure. She is kind and has a strong spirit. Grandma Fa offers Mulan the wisdom of the elders as the heroine embarks on her journey to save her dad and defend her country.

“Would you like to stay for dinner? Would you like to stay forever?”—Grandma Fa

  • JAY PRITCHETT on “MODERN FAMILY”—is played by Ed O’Neill through the many laugh-giving years of this tv sit-com. Jay is also known as: Grump-pa, Old Timer, Jay-Lo, Smarty Pants, Bucket List, High Pockets and Jay-sus. This quote from the “The Jaybird” tells you basically all you need to know about this cranky, adoring grandfather:

“When you’re young and dreaming of your family, you think the perfect family–perfect wife, perfect kids. Look at me, I got this sorry bunch. But you know, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”

  • DOWAGER COUNTESS VIOLET CRAWLEY—from the posh, BBC television dramedy, “Downton Abbey.” Played with a “wink and a sneer” by Maggie Smith, Violet is what happens when a fierce, imperious “Tiger Mom” is deliciously condescending and veddy, veddy, “stiff upper lip” British. The most-quotable of a large and quote-rich cast of characters, these quips from her are legend:

–“At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”

–“The presence of strangers is our only guarantee of good behaviour.”

–“There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends, that’s the real test.

  • AZZURI of “BLACK PANTHER”—was the film’s wise leader of the nation of Wakanda. Azzuri epitomizes the protective patriarch grandfather of not only his blood kin but of all his people.
  •  EDITH BUNKER of “ALL IN THE FAMILY”—was a happy, loving character played by veteran actress, Jean Stapleton. Edith was a long-lived survivor like a “Grandmother Tree.” She suffered through menopause, concerning lumps in her breast, was nearly raped on her 50th birthday, and develops phlebitis in the show’s final episode. No matter what challenges she faced personally, relying on grit and optimism, she kept her family intact.
  1. GRANDPA JOE from “CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY”—is a 96-year old, anti-authoritarian rebel. This is from the film buffs at Zimbio—“YOUR GRANDPA SHOULD BE GRANDPA JOE—With Grandpa Joe you get a true classic. Unconditional love? He’s got it. A joy for life even in his declining years? That’s Joe. Sage advice for days? Yup. Above all, he’ll teach you that you don’t need a lot of material things to be happy. Just surround yourself with the people you love and those who love you, and life will be complete.”

Here’s a little poem to share when you visit “THE GRANDMOTHER MAGNOLIA” and “THE GRANDFATHER PINE” at the Sportsman Lake Park Arboretum:

“Grandmas and Grandpas are like strong trees standing with pride.

They lead us through a thicket like a trusty guide.

They remind us to look up to the heavens above.

Grandmas and Grandpas, give us shelter, hope and love.”

CELEBRATING IN THE WUNDERGARTEN includes culinary storytelling. Here is a dessert to enjoy sharing at one of the many picnic tables in the Sportsman Lake Park Tree Museum when you visit “THE GRANDMOTHER MAGNOLIA” and “THE GRANDFATHER PINE.” Once you’re back at home many would enjoy this Old Grand-Dad bourbon cocktail to salute our beloved grandparents.




  • One 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cold water
  • One 3.4-oz. package Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • One 11-oz. box Nilla wafers
  • 4 to 5 ripe bananas, sliced


  1. In a stand mixer with the whisk, beat the condensed milk and water on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the pudding mix and beat until there are no lumps and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.




  • 1 1/4-oz. Old Grand-Dad bourbon
  • 1/2-oz. dark rum
  • 2 oz. Half-and-Half
  • 1/8-oz. vanilla extract
  • 1/2-oz. simple syrup
  • Dash of grated nutmeg


  1. In a mixing glass three-quarters filled with ice, pour the bourbon, rum, milk or cream, vanilla and simple syrup.
  2. Shake vigorously until chilled, about 30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass. Dust with nutmeg.


Find all columns in this series at