The Project Gutenberg eBook of Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile, Alabama

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Title: Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile, Alabama

Author: Anonymous

Release date: December 11, 2019 [eBook #60902]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Stephen Hutcheson, Lisa Corcoran and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile, Alabama




On Isle-Aux-Oies (Fowl) River
(Including Tax)




Bellingrath Gardens ...
on Isle-Aux-Oies (Fowl) River ... Mobile


The world-famed Bellingrath Gardens unfold their acres of glowing, brilliant colors along the winding banks of the Isle-Aux-Oies River about twenty miles from the town of Old Mobile, and about one mile from famous Mobile Bay.

No gardens these that have been planted and seasoned with bygone centuries, but a young and virile landscape fraught with patriarchs of bushes transplanted by the thousands from old-time gardens. It was planned and created by the work and loving care of Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Bellingrath, and brought to breath-taking beauty and nature’s most perfect setting of Southern shrubs and foliage and towering age-old oaks. And once within the magic portals of this place, enchantment grows with every turn along the flower-banked way—for here dwells beauty—unfolded in the myriad brilliant blooms on every hand.


Ethereal Azaleas and Camellias are everywhere, and Gardenias and Sweet Olive fill the air with perfume that lingers along with memories of this famous garden spot. Bridal-like pathways are strewn with falling petals from the fragrant fragile flowers, and majestic arms of giant oaks—gray draped with mystic Spanish moss—form cavelike arches overhead. The roses have a corner of their own, where round and round in pattern of a giant Rotarian Wheel they flaunt their gorgeous colors in strong young buds. Old lavender Wisteria festoons its way along the redolent magnolia trees and brilliant blue Hydrangeas and Altheas and dogwood add a glory all their own to their respective seasons. Most every tree and shrub that likes the gentle clime along the Gulf has made its home within the hundred acres encompassed by the Bellingrath Gardens and found therein the care that lends an added beauty to their untamed growth. The clinging tendrils of a thousand vines have wound their way along the friendly branches of the trees, and woven round 3 their heads a mesh to keep the troubles of a distraught world from penetrating into this place of beauty, quietude and peace.


Quaint flagstone walks lead down to the rippling river—or off again to loiter by the lake to watch the gliding swans along the lily pads, or see the thousand yellow lilies dancing in reflection on the water’s edge. The tinkled splash of fountained waters or the trilling tributes of a wild bird accent the thrilling majesty that comes with peace and beauty.

And here has been established a home, superbly built of rich old brick and traditional Southern iron grillwork. It is a perfect jewel in a perfect setting into which age-old romance and history have been woven. The lines of sturdy Norman grouping are softened and accented by the rich-railed balconies and porticos that bring to mind the quaint courts and cloisters of Southern Europe and the influence of Old France and Spain upon the Gulf Coast colonies.


“Charm Spot of the Deep South”


In Bellingrath Gardens the Southland boasts one of the loveliest garden spots in all the world—the true “Charm Spot of the Deep South.” Serenely conscious of the rare appeal and magnetism of ever-changing beauty, Bellingrath Gardens offer an untold wealth of verdant foliage at any time of the year the casual caller comes. In fall the mammoth Chrysanthemums are magnificent and early winter brings the prized collection of Camellias has in myriad brilliant hues. Spring coaxes forth thousands of bulbous blossoms and the dazzling show of Bellingrath’s far-famed Azaleas in every known variety. Then summer comes to show its radiant colors in Southern Oleanders, Crepe Myrtle, and Gardenias—and always—through the centuries gone and those years yet to come, the giant bearded oaks and forest trees raise reverent arms as if to bring this beauty nearer God.


Facts about the glorious azaleas of Mobile and Bellingrath Gardens

Though each season envelops the world in its own peculiar beauty and charm, not the wildest dreams of the most fervid and keen imagination can conjure the beauty of Bellingrath Gardens when Azaleas are blooming. Thousands of them line the many rambling walks that wind over this marvelous estate. Around the lily-bordered lake—Mirror Lake—you go enthralled by the gigantic Azaleas that scatter their trillion petals from the million flowers that cover a single bush. Mobile’s own romantic history is closely interwoven with this gorgeous flower, and dates as far back as the founding of the city in 1711. From carefully authenticated sources it was learned that a young Frenchman living in Mobile visited France to see his grandparents. So impressed was he by the dazzling Azaleas that on his return to Mobile he brought back three varieties; the pink, the purplish red, the white. And today in Bellingrath Gardens you find some of the oldest and largest Azalea bushes in America, specimen plants that have been collected at great expense from old gardens all over the South, and transplanted here in a perfect setting.

The plaque shown above was placed in Bellingrath Gardens by the citizens of Mobile as a tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Bellingrath and in appreciation of their civic work and the development of lovely Bellingrath Gardens.


Looking down the pathway of the rustic bridge across Mirror Lake in Bellingrath Gardens is a patriarch of the Azalea family. It is an early pink, blooming generally around the middle of February. When in full bloomage, the gorgeous mass of flowers completely hides the green foliage of this rare bush, which is more than 26 feet in diameter, 14 feet high and 80 feet in circumference. Involuntary exclamations of delight as the visitor reaches this spot is an invariable tribute to the overwhelming beauty of this giant Azalea.


Numerous Giant Azalea Bushes Greet the Visitor to Bellingrath Gardens

When you visit Bellingrath Gardens in the spring, there are other outstanding attractions of the Southland you’ll want to see. One of these is Mobile’s Azalea Trail in the late winter and early spring, a glamorous 17-mile tour of flower-lined streets. Another interesting event, usually in March, is the New Orleans Spring Fiesta, featuring Ante-Bellum Homes, Gardens, French Quarter Tours, and other attractions. You’ll enjoy a visit, too, at this season to Natchez during Pilgrimage Time.


What others say about
Bellingrath Gardens


Fascinating scenes like those pictured here inspire many extravagant words of praise by visitors to Bellingrath Gardens.

The renowned columnist, Dorothy Dix, makes this statement:

I have seen the beautiful gardens all over the world—in France, England, Germany, Japan, as well as in this country—but I have never seen anything so gorgeous as Bellingrath Gardens.

Mr. Rufus C. Dawes, President of the Chicago World’s Fair, was equally as complimentary:

“It is the most beautiful and best developed garden I ever visited.”

Another famous visitor, Mr. Harrison Jones, Executive Vice-President of the Coca-Cola Company, had this to say:

The Bellingrath Gardens on Fowl River are one of the most magnificent in the world.

Mr. Harper Sibley, Past President of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, visited Bellingrath Gardens and writes:

I had, of course, long heard of your wonderful Azaleas—but I was completely overwhelmed by the magnificence and the sweep of Bellingrath Gardens. As it happens, I have studied landscape architecture and have had the privilege of visiting many of the most beautiful gardens in the world, in America, on the Continent, down in Italy, and in such remote places as Kashmir and Japan, but these gardens of Mobile rank with the very finest anywhere.

In a feature article appearing in Better Homes and Gardens Elmer T. Peterson had this to say:

Bellingrath Gardens are authoritatively listed near the top among the most beautiful gardens in the United States, and when you have seen them you will not doubt.


A Garden Pageant in Four Acts


Like a pageant in four acts, each with a climax—that is the description of the “Charm Spot of the Deep South” known all over the world as Bellingrath Gardens of Mobile, Alabama. Here in these world-famed Gardens the show goes on throughout the year, with each season putting on a new act, and bringing forth a new spectacle—a continual parade of changing colors to enchant the visitor every month of the year.

Formerly a semitropical jungle, Bellingrath Gardens are now a perfumed theatre, the air sweet from the mingled odors of growing plants and flowers. A symphony of fragrance! That’s the orchestra to this flowering performance in this sixty-acre garden, the owners of which were Mr. and the late Mrs. Walter D. Bellingrath. Theirs was a magician’s art, and from a wild, untamed land of magnolias, moss-draped live and water oaks, bays and pines, they have wrought a spectacular scene of color. Every twenty feet in Bellingrath Gardens is a vista, some special picture, a never-to-be-forgotten view. There are murmuring fountains and singing cascades and flagstone paths that breathe romance. It is indeed a paradise for nature lovers, a rare and lovely garden that justifies a thousand-mile journey, and each year thousands come from afar and view this marvelous spectacle.


There’s a beauty that beggars description. That is the beauty one finds in Bellingrath Gardens. The first act of the Bellingrath Gardens Show opens in October, when the wondrous Camellias begin to bloom. The Camellia Japonica has no equal in the plant world for its beauty and fitness for the glorification of the home and garden. A native of Japan, it was introduced through European channels to Mobile about one hundred years ago. Possibly some five or six hundred varieties exist, embracing many types and colors. Pure white through every shade of pink to deep red and crimson, ending with some blooms having a decided purplish cast, no other 12 flowering plant can give such a diversity of types, a range baffling description. Singles, semidoubles, peony flowering types, some with dense pompon centers, other shaggy flowers with center petals whirled and twisted, full doubles of every conceivable type. Again some varieties are solid colors, others have variegation through the petals; some are mottled; others are striped and others have petals of various colors throughout the flowers. The varieties of Camellia Japonica having a tendency to show variegation are a never-ending source of expectation and admiration. The charm and amazing variety of the Camellia Japonica found in Bellingrath Gardens quickly convince the visitor that here is one of the most remarkable collections of this beautiful flowering shrub ever gathered together. Small wonder that Act I is an invariable success.



In the middle of Act I the Camellia Japonica is joined by its costar, the Azalea, and together they march on triumphantly to the enthusiastic applause of an appreciative audience. During January and February the Camellia Japonica reaches its heights, graciously yielding the spotlight to the glorious Azalea as the scene changes from winter to spring. There are no fitting words to describe the colorful and appealing drama of the dainty Camellia Japonica meeting the glorious Azalea when both are at their best. It is an act that never fails—a spectacle never to be forgotten.

Of the countless number of words written to describe the beauty that catches the eye during Act II, nothing yet has been written or said to do justice to the varicolored Azalea plants in their fullest bloom. “The Flaming Drama of the South” it has been appropriately called in Better Homes and Gardens. The plants range in size from the midget variety to those ancient bushes that grow to the extent of over 100 feet in circumference, 13 with their histories dating back over two centuries. When the Azalea plant is in full bloom, every vestige of foliage is entirely smothered in the crimson, coral, white or purple flowers that the bush may bear. It is not surprising that the startling performance of the amazingly brilliant Azalea should be rewarded by a tremendous ovation from an enthralled audience of many thousands. Nowhere in the world is the gorgeous Azalea found in a setting so fitting as in Bellingrath Gardens.



Slowly recovering from the rapture and absorbing drama of the Azalea in full bloom, Bellingrath Gardens open Act III in their charming spring dress. Various shades of green stand out in relief as young leaves take the place of old. Ancient live oaks, water oaks, bays, magnolias, cedars, pines, holly and dogwood take on new hues and assume their roles in this show with magnificent beauty and splendor. Mountain Laurel and the double-flowered white Spiraea brighten the stage with their delicate blossoms. The colorful Hydrangea and the fragrant Gardenia do a specialty act of their own that is one of the hits of the season.


New actors and actresses add their beauty to the cast as summer drifts by. The Crepe Myrtle, the Oleander, the Magnolia, the Hibiscus, the Allamanda and numerous other colorful flowers help make the Bellingrath Gardens Show the wonderful pageant that it is. Summer fades into fall, and as the final curtain is lowered the audience reluctantly leaves with happy smiles and fond memories of the “Charm Spot of the Deep South”: of dexterous landscaping: of gray Spanish moss draping branches of noble oaks and cypresses and forming backdrop curtains for the thrilling drama continuously being produced way down South in Bellingrath Gardens.


Enchanting flagstone walks wind their peaceful way through Bellingrath Gardens—a man-made rivulet trickles down a stairway of stone—the charming collection and amazing variety of the Camellia Japonica in this dream garden—these and many other scenes never fail to enchant the visitor.


A fountain, canopied by waving gray moss, presents one of the loveliest scenes in this “Charm Spot of the Deep South.” It seems to whisper, “Here We Rest.”


Age-old romance and history have been woven into this magnificent home of Mr. and the late Mrs. Walter D. Bellingrath. The exquisitely patterned iron lace that borders its rich-railed balconies and porticos once stood guard around the two-tiered porches of Mobile’s famous Old Southern Hotel, and are remindful of the influence of Old France and Spain upon the Gulf Coast colonies.




The lovely rose also adds its charm to the beauty of Bellingrath Gardens. In a corner of their own they bloom profusely to delight the many visitors. This Rose Garden contains over a thousand bushes planted in beds laid out in design like a Rotary Wheel.



For information concerning Bellingrath Gardens, inquire at any AAA office or your Tourist Information Bureau, “Ask Mr. Foster” Service, or write direct to Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile, Alabama. Western Union and long distance telephone service are available at Gardens. Regular round-trip bus service from Mobile to the Gardens each morning and afternoon at special rate.

VISIT Bellingrath Gardens

To Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens

Invitation to


Transcriber’s Notes