The Mobile Botanical Gardens, located along the sunny Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama, prides itself in its extensive collection of unique plants and scenic walking trails. Besides the breathtaking scenery, there is a fascinating history behind the city of Mobile and its life-long relationship with gardening. The mission of the staff at the Mobile Botanical Gardens in Alabama is to promote a passion for the outdoors, knowledge of conservation techniques and the pleasure of gardening. They strive to make the gardens a safe-haven for both education and enjoyment for all who visit.
The Mobile Botanical Gardens consist of more than 100 acres of paved garden areas and woodland trails, as well as a butterfly and pollinator garden and one of the most comprehensive collections of Azaleas along the Gulf Coast. Sightings of local wildlife is also fairly common at the gardens, visitors can expect to see all kinds of unique insects, birds, turtles and frogs throughout the gardens and trails.
There are plenty of paved gardens to enjoy: The Japanese Maple Garden; The Fragrance and Texture Garden; The ReBloom Mobile Garden; The Bamboo Garden; The Herb Garden; and The Butterfly and Pollinator Garden (still in development). These gardens are self-guided, and contain paved paths and level grounds that are safe for visitors of all ages and abilities to navigate.
There is also the Woodland Gardens and Trails, which caters to visitors who cannot navigate uneven ground (mulch, pebbles, etc.). These gardens and trails include: The Rose Garden; The Kosaku Sawada Winter Garden; The Fern Glade; The Camellia Bridge; The Tea Maze; The Magnolia Grove; The Hydrangea Garden and Trails; and even the Dodd Quarry and Amphitheater. More able-bodied visitors can enjoy a scenic hike or walk on these trails.
Interestingly enough, one of the last remaining pine forests in the city is also located at the Botanical Gardens. This forest, known as Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest, consists of 35 acres of land that is subject to controlled burns in order to encourage reseeding and regeneration. Hard-working volunteers constantly maintain the land by ridding it of invasive species and helping new seedlings to flourish in newly regenerated areas. The maintenance of Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest is extremely important to the vast ecosystem that resides within: as of 2007, scientists found that there were more than 250 different plant species in the forest alone.
The Kosaku Sawada Winter Garden is home to one of the most historically intriguing and diverse flowers in the world: the Camellia. The flower arrived in America, from its original home in the Orient, approximately 200 years ago. It is a vibrant and ever-evolving flower that quickly became a native to the warm climates of the Gulf Coast. Currently, there are over 20,000 documented variations and hybrids of the flower, with new species being discovered every year. The gardens, with the aid of three local Camellia clubs and societies, proudly house a diverse collection of these vibrant flowers. Most recently, the Kosaku Sawada Winder Garden received a great honor from the International Camellia Society: it was named a "Garden of Excellence."
The equally beautiful, but vastly different species of flower, Azalea, also resides at the Mobile Botanical Gardens. Located in the Rhododendron Garden, this collection is one of the most extensive collections of Azaleas along the Gulf Coast. These flowers bloom amongst a longleaf pine forest filled with walking trails, which ultimately converge at a plaza filled with 19th century cast-iron columns. These columns used to be a part of buildings that made up downtown Mobile before they were demolished. There are also hand-made bricks that once paved the streets of downtown Mobile which now make up the walking area of the central plaza. This central plaza has been created with literal pieces of history from the City of Mobile, while breathtaking Azaleas, the pride of the gardens, bloom all around. It is truly a place of astounding beauty and reflection.
The warm and breezy weather that accompanies the Gulf Coast will make any of these trails and gardens a beautiful year-round experience for visitors.
The Botanical Gardens were established in the early 1970s when the City of Mobile donated 100 acres of land to the South Alabama Horticulture and Botanical Society. The Gardens were officially open to the public in 1974 and have been flourishing ever since.
The establishment of the Mobile Botanical Gardens, its vast collection of flowers and its shady trails come from great European influence. When the city of Mobile was founded by the French in the 18th century, Louis XIV gave strict orders to his colonists stating that gardening and horticulture were to be priorities for the new colony. In fact, some of the earliest city plans for Mobile picture a wealth of shady paths and blooming gardens, both edible and ornamental. The City of Mobile clearly has gardening in its roots.
In the early 19th century, the City of Mobile was well-known by visitors for its splendid villas and embellished gardens. Even through the many battles of the Civil War, and even deadly hurricanes which caused many of the city's gardens and estates to repeatedly be destroyed, the City of Mobile has rebuilt and continuously maintained its reputation as an exuberant gardening community.
The Mobile Botanical Gardens experienced hardship due to weather in the late 70s and early 80s, when Hurricane Frederic struck, destroying many of the gardens and trails, followed by a horrible flood that washed out the main road to the gardens. Since that time however, the Botanical Gardens have established many new traditions, gardens and trails that visitors know and love today.
There are always exciting events happening year-round at the Mobile Botanical Gardens for the entire family. The annual events include: The Spring Plant Sale, The Fall Plant Sale, Butterfly Day, Various Holiday Sales and the Gallery of Gardens. Currently, Derek Norman is hosting an informal sketch group in the gardens every Friday from 2pm-4pm.
The Botanical Gardens are also available for a variety of events such as weddings, receptions, parties and holiday celebrations. The recently renovated Botanical Center has a truly rustic feel with scenic views of the gardens from large windows all around. The exposed beams and stone floors mimic the feel and color of the local culture of the City of Mobile. There are French doors that open out to the ReBloom Garden on the north side, while the south side doors open out to the Herb Garden. The Botanical Center combines nature and glamour, making it the perfect place for any party.
There are an abundance of outdoor activities and adventures awaiting the entire family at the Mobile Botanical Gardens. Whether it's hiking, picnicking or nature-watching, there is plenty to do and see at the gardens. Artists can also explore and feel free to draw, paint or take professional photographs in the gardens. Professional photography sessions can also be scheduled ahead of time.
Although guided tours are available upon request, most tours of the gardens are self-guided. The Botanical Gardens have even installed several stations with QR (Quick Response) codes that can be scanned with visitor's personal cell phones. Upon scanning the QR codes, a cellular audio tour will begin, allowing visitors to tour the park on their own.
Once you have completed your tour of the Mobile Botanical Gardens, there is plenty to do and see in the great City of Mobile. There is the Museum of Art, the Azalea City Golf Course, and plenty of historic sites and fine dining in the downtown section of the city.
Volunteer or Become a Member
The Mobile Botanical Gardens are a non-profit organization, therefore, volunteers, membership contributions and fundraisers help keep the Gardens maintained and flourishing. The benefits of becoming a member include free entrance to the Gardens, discounts on classes, and even reduced admission to any other American Horticultural Society Gardens in the United States.
Volunteers are also extremely important, they ensure the continued growth and maintenance of the Gardens year-round. There are always new projects to be done in the gardens, the most recent being an expansion of the Rhododendron Gardens and the proposed Butterfly and Pollinator Garden.
Although the Botanical Gardens have graciously received a matching grant of $7,500, they are still currently seeking donations for the proposed Butterfly and Pollinator Garden.
Memorials and Honorariums are also available for purchase, this includes plaques, benches and even plantings. These can all be bought in order to honor someone you love, as well as support the Botanical Gardens and their continued growth.
5151 Museum Drive Mobile AL 36608, Phone: 251-342-0555
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