All About The Historic Bellingrath Gardens

Are you looking to live out your life as the main character in your cottagecore fantasy? Then I’d say a trip to the Bellingrath Gardens is in order. 

Flowers grow all year round in the 65-acre Bellingrath Gardens and Home, a historic estate that draws in visitors with its beauty. 

Read on to learn about how this gorgeous property came to be and what you can do there! 

bellingrath gardens

The History Of Bellingrath Gardens

President of the nearby Coca-Cola bottling plant Walter Bellingrath bought the land on which the gardens would eventually be developed back in 1917.

He intended it to be a fishing camp, and he called it “Belle Camp.” 

Walter purchased the property in an effort to balance his professional and personal life.

In large part, Bessie Mae Morse Bellingrath, who wed Walter in 1906, is responsible for the Bellingrath Gardens that we can visit today. 

In 1927, Mrs. Bellingrath and architect George Bigelow Rogers started designing the gardens. 

The house, which was finished in 1935, is 10,500 square feet in size.

It’s mostly made of hand-made brick that was reclaimed in Mobile from Alva Smith Vanderbilt, Belmont’s birthplace, in 1852. 

The Southern Hotel, located in Mobile, which was demolished around 1837, provided the ironwork. 

The house’s design incorporated features from numerous customs and times.

French doors, a Mediterranean courtyard, and a formal Georgian staircase with echoes of an English country house are a few design highlights.

Related Reading: Types Of Trees In Mobile, AL – Get To Know Here.

Opening The Bellingrath Property To The Public 

On April 7, 1932, Walter and Bessie Bellingrath invited the public to visit their gardens for the first time. 

Following Mr. Bellingrath’s passing in 1955 at the age of 86, the house was made public as a museum in 1956.

It still contains all of Mrs. Bellingrath’s original furnishings.

The Bellingraths never had children, and Walter spent the remainder of his life working on the gardens after she passed away in 1943. 

He wanted to honor his wife, who had devoted so much time and effort to beautifying the place. 

Funding For The Bellingrath Gardens 

At the age of 80, Walter D. Bellingrath established the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation.

In addition to the family churches, it also supports: 

  • Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama 
  • Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama 

These organizations receive about 80% of the foundation’s income. 

Despite receiving funding from the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation, the gardens’ present operations are funded by entry fees, sales from the gift shop and café, membership fees, and contributions.

About The Historic Gardens 

About 900 acres of the Bellingrath Gardens and home property are along the Fowl River, 65 acres of which are landscaped gardens. 

Year-round plantings of chrysanthemums, camellias, azaleas, roses, and live oaks may be found in the gardens. 

Snapdragons, ornamental kale and cabbage, poppies, narcissus, tulips, pansies, and primroses are among the plants that are prominent in the winter. 

More than 250,000 azaleas, easter lilies, salvias, geraniums, impatiens, and hydrangea are among the springtime plants on display. 

The summer brings about over 2,000 roses, hibiscus, begonias, caladiums, marigolds, copper plants, ornamental peppers, and bougainvilleas. 

And in the fall, the garden bursts with over 8,000 potted, bedded, and cascading chrysanthemums and hibiscus, What a dream. 

About The Historic Home 

The Home, which has 15 rooms, was constructed in 1935 and was designed by renowned Mobile architect George B. Rogers.

The Home has a Gulf Coast feel thanks to flagstone terraces, a slate roof, and figural copper downspouts, in addition to a central courtyard, balconies, and covered galleries. 

The structure was designed to create the impression of a humbler abode since the architect wanted the visitor to think of it as a home rather than a mansion. 

Additionally, he wanted to honor the area’s rich architectural history.

In 1935, the Home was the most progressive of its kind, but electricity had not yet been introduced by Alabama Power to this isolated region of Mobile County. 

As a result, the Bellingraths relied on a sizable Delco generator till 1940.

The Bellingrath Gardens At Christmas 

The “Magic Christmas in Lights” extravaganza at Bellingrath Gardens, which features more than 3 million lights, marks the start of the holiday season. 

The lights display debuted in 1995 and take place from the Friday following Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. 

Over 1,000 set pieces are used in 13 themed sceneries scattered throughout the estate. 

Bellingrath’s “Magic Christmas in Lights” was listed among the “10 Best Public Light Displays in America” in 2014 by USA Today.

What You Can Do At Bellingrath Gardens 

What You Can Do At Bellingrath Gardens

The Gardens and Home are open year-round, every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They also often host special events. 

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day are the only three days of the year when Bellingrath is closed.

Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided walking tour through the Gardens’ two miles of pathways.

You can breathe in the clean country air and marvel at the flowers in full bloom.

Here are the landmarks you can explore: 

  • Entrance building 
  • The Bellingrath Rose Garden 
  • The Conservatory 
  • The Great Lawn
  • Live Oak Plaza 
  • The Grand Estate Home Terraces 
  • The Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain 
  • The Chapel 
  • The Bellingrath Museum Home 
  • The River Front Pavillion 
  • The Dwight Harrigan/ExxonMobil Bayou Boardwalk 
  • Mirror Lake and Nearby Attractions
  • The Rockery 
  • The Asian-American Garden 

If all that walking whets your appetite, you can stop by The Magnolia Café.

Lunch is served there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a small rotating menu.

There are sandwiches, salads, and hot meals available all week!

If you’re interested in cultivating your own blooms, you can learn from the best.

Every Wednesday, Bellingrath holds a fun, informative series on gardening. 

Admission is $14 for adults, $8 for ages 5-12, and free for children under 5.

Friends of Bellingrath members are welcome to join in at no extra charge. 

Since Azaleas are a big deal in Alabama, Bellingrath holds an Azalea Watch to keep track of how the buds are doing every month.

Activities For Kids 

Bellingrath Gardens and Home provides K–5 school groups with instructive, self-guided seminars that they can use to take a self-guided walkabout of the Gardens. 

Valuable materials are available at the Garden’s facility for learning about wetlands, ecosystems, and plant sciences.

Of course, the establishment has prepared a curriculum to satisfy local and state standards. 

Please note that they don’t provide workshop facilitators like teachers or guides.

However, they do provide worksheets and instructions.

Here are the topics and activities that kiddies can participate in: 

  • Bees, Birds, and Butterflies 
  • Map Skills in the Gardens 
  • Using Your Math Skills in the Gardens 
  • Senses Walk 
  • Plant Talk 
  • Botanical Scavenger Hunts 

Special Functions 

The Bellingrath Gardens and Home is the perfect backdrop for elegant festivities.

You can rent out the Magnolia Room or a tent for a larger outdoor party. 

This property is particularly stunning as a setting for your wedding and reception.

You may also schedule a pre-nuptial photo session in the gardens at no extra cost. 

Address: 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd, Theodore, AL 36582

Number: (251) 973-2217

Related Reading: Weird Things To Do In Mobile, Alabama – Check Out Here

Final Thoughts 

The Bellingrath Gardens and Home is an iconic property at this point.

It was even mentioned in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird! 

Reconnect with nature and immerse yourself in history by visiting this Alabamian paradise. 

Disclosure:  this article might contain links to the resources discussed.
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