Bellingrath Gardens and Home is located on the Gulf coast of the United States in the state of Alabama. This historic site can be found 23.5 miles from the city of Mobile. Since the gardens were first opened in 1932, several generations of Americans have enjoyed a floral pageantry that can be viewed throughout the year. It is the 13th stop in the series Off The Beaten Path.
Bellingrath Gardens encompass near 900 acres along the Fowl River. A total of 65 acres are continuously cultivated with annual blooms with a riot of color. This now celebrated site was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1977 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
In 1996, in the Garden Estates episode of America’s Castles, the site was premiered on the Arts and Entertainment Network, which featured Bellingrath Gardens and Home.
In 1999, Good Morning America would be filmed on the site of the Gardens.
The property that would later comprise Bellingrath Gardens, were purchased as a fishing camp by Walter Bellingrath, president of the local Coca-Cola bottling plant. He bought the place as a get away from work and to bring balance to his busy professional life.
The later transformation of the camp into what is now known as Bellingrath Gardens and Home, began with Bessie Mae Morse, who married Walter in 1906.
Mrs. Bellingrath began developing the expansive gardens with architect George Bigelow Rodgers in 1927. The gardens would be opened to the public for the first time in 1932, during the Great Depression.
Their 15 main room residence would be built between the years 1925 to 1949. The house would be tentatively completed in 1935. This grand home built in the architectural style of 20th Century Revival, and would cover a total of 10,500 square feet or 975.48 square meters.
The design of the house would use building features from an English country room, which can clearly be seen with the incorporation of a Georgian style staircase. Also included are French doors and the enclosed area, that is modeled after a Mediterranean courtyard.
The Bellingrath estate home has hand made brick reclaimed from the 1852 birthplace of Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont in Mobile.
The building contains ironwork from the demolished Southern Hotel from around 1837. It was also located in the city of Mobile.
After the death of Mrs. Bellingrath in 1943, Walter decided to dedicate the remainder of his life to maintain and preserve the extensive Gardens, she had worked so hard to nurture. The couple did not have any children.
In 1950 at the age of 80, Mr. Bellingrath would establish the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation. This action would set up a trust,that would perpetuate his Gardens and home, for future generations of Americans to enjoy.
Today, although Bellingrath Gardens receives income from the foundation, over two-thirds of present day operations, are actually financed through visitor admissions, donations, membership fees, and sales generated through the gift shop and the on site cafe.
The Bellingrath Home would be opened to the general public as a museum in 1956, following the death of Mr. Bellingrath, the preceding year. The former residence has retained all of the former furnishings, from when Mrs. Bellingrath resided there.
Bellingrath Gardens include a bridal garden, a rose garden and the Asian-American Garden.
There is also a conservatory, a Great Lawn, the Harrington/ExxonMobil Bayou Boardwalk, a nature walk, a chapel, the Little Mermaid Fountain, Mirror Lake, an observation tower, and the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain.
The garden pathways are comprised of actual flagstones, from the old city sidewalks of Mobile. These had originally been put in place in Mobile, once they had arrived as ballast in sailing vessels. These ships would be loaded with cotton, for mills in England.
Special events and weddings, are held throughout the year at Bellingrath Gardens.
Yearly events held at Bellingrath Gardens include the Easter Egg Hunt on the Great Lawn and an Easter Sunrise Service on the Live Oak Plaza. There is also the Balloon Glow with trick or treating throughout the Gardens each fall.
The nationally recognized Magic Christmas in Lights each winter, features a display of over 3 million lights.
It premiered in 1995 and runs from the Friday after Thanksgiving, through New Year’s Eve. Visitors can view 1,000 set pieces in 13 themed scenes, which are spaced around the gardens as part of the Christmas pageantry.
A 2014 edition of USA Today included Bellingrath Gardens and Home’s Magic Christmas in Lights, on its list of the 10 Best Public Light Displays in America. Online readers voted to put Bellingrath, in sixth place.
In addition, the Gardens are home to the largest outdoor display of cascading chrysanthemums in the United States, each fall. In a project that takes all year to plan, hundreds of four foot long cascades of mums are displayed on bridges, balconies, and containers throughout the Gardens.
The first display was held in 1963 at the Gardens from flower stock obtained from Longwood Gardens, which still has the largest indoor display, of chrysanthemums in the United States. The latter began its annual display in 1921.
In 2013, Better Homes and Gardens had a special interest publication Country Gardens, which featured the Gardens annual Cascading Mums Display.
During the summer and winter, the local community is invited each year to a series of educational events called Wonderful Wednesdays.
The Gardens made national news again, when The Bronze Honor Medal was awarded to Bellingrath Rosarian Linda Guy in 2010, by the American Rose Society.
Finally, in 2015, Dr. William E. Barrick was selected to receive the American Horticultural Society’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Award.
The Gardens are well know for their outstanding collection of spring flowers which include more than 250,000 azaleas, Easter lilies, fuchsia, hydrangeas, impatiens, salvia, Pelargonium geraniums and many more.
As spring gives way to summer, the gardens feature more than 2000 roses, allamandas, begonias, bougainvillea, caladiums, coleus, copper plants, hibiscus, marigolds, ornamental peppers, vinca and a great many more.
Autumn flowers include over 8,000 bedded, potted and cascading chrysanthemums, copper plants, hibiscus and quite a few more varieties of fall foliage.
Winter flowers include daffodils, kale, various varieties of narcissus, ornamental cabbage, pansies, poppies, primroses, snapdragons and large plantings of tulips. As a tribute to The State Flower of Alabama, there are over 400 varieties of camellias in bloom at the Gardens.
Bellingrath Gardens & Home is located at 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road Theodore, Alabama 36582.
The Phone Number is: (800) 247-8420 or (251) 973-2217.
The Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gardens and Bellingrath Home package is $21.00 USD (United States Dollar) for adults.
Children ages 5 – 12 tickets are $13.00 USD. Younger children are admitted for free.
The Gardens Only Package is: $13.00 USD for adults and $7.50 for children.
Magic Christmas in Lights and Bellingrath Museum Home Package is $24.00 USD for adults and $13.00 USD for children.
Magic Christmas Lights Gardens Only Package is $15.00 USD for adults and $7.50 USD for children.
During the month of August, the Gardens and Home combination tickets are discounted to $16.50 USD for adults and children for $13.00 USD.
How To Get There
The Gardens are located two hours east of New Orleans, Louisiana, four hours south of Birmingham, Alabama, and six hours southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. The main road of access is Interstate 10.
The Gardens provide free on site parking, during normal business hours.
Days and Hours of Operations
Bellingrath Gardens and Home is open daily. The only exceptions are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Monday – Sunday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tours begin at 9:00 AM. Last ticket is sold at 3:30 PM.
The Magnolia Cafe is open from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and the Gift Shop is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Magic Christmas Lights 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Tours begin at 9:00 AM. Last ticket is sold at 7:30 PM.
The Magnolia Cafe will be open from 11.00 AM to 8:00 PM. Closed between 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The Gift Shop will be open from 8:00 AM to 9 PM.
Is available in Mobile Alabama, and in smaller nearby communities.