Blaze gets a new lease on life

  • A duplicate dragon-shaped form, built by the vendor that created the original, arrived on campus Thursday.
  • The new form is planted with fig vine, which should provide coverage in eight to 10 weeks.
  • A crane was used to remove the original topiary and place the new one in the center of the raised bed on the Green.
  • Summer Blaze gets a good drenching as his twin takes his leave to be cleaned and restored.
  • The original Blaze is off to the UAB greenhouse, where it will be cleaned, restored and planted with a variety of English ivy (Hedera helix), which generally fares better in Alabama winters.
  • In late fall, a newly refurbished and ivy-laden Blaze will return to center campus be displayed during the winter months.
  • New Blaze will rule through fall, then winter in the greenhouse while another takes his place. Alternating the topiaries should help ensure a vibrant display on the Campus Green year-round.
  • This kind of campus beauty doesn't come naturally. These lovely views are brought to you by Campus Services and Grounds. (L-R) Sharon Johnson, David White, David Johnson, Bill Pledger, Allen Harpman, Anthony Smith and (kneeling) Tim Sullivan.

After a few delays and false starts, the Blaze topiary on the Campus Green was replaced with a fig vine-covered duplicate July 13 as the first step in a plan ensure a vibrant display year-round.

The new, improved Blaze will be fitted with his own irrigation system to ward off damage from summer heat and drought, and he will winter in the greenhouse to protect him from the cold, said Tim Sullivan, manager for Campus Services and Grounds.

The original topiary form will be cleaned, restored and planted with a variety of English ivy, which generally fares better in Alabama winters. In late fall, the two will be switched. fig-vine Blaze will winter in the greenhouse, and ivy-laden Blaze will be displayed in its place. In spring, they will be swapped again.