Mobile Botanical Gardens
In Mobile, Alabama, Bellingrath Gardens and Home, which celebrated its 85th anniversary in April, is a 65-acre estate garden in Theodore that provides stunning, colorful floral blooms that attendees can visit every day of the year except Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Just as the camellias complete their cycle of blooms, here come the azaleas!
Guests can take a leisurely self-guided tour, stroll along the boardwalk or spend some quiet time at Mirror Lake. Be sure to see the 2004 All-American Rose Selection’s Top Public Rose Garden in the United States.
Other destinations within Bellingrath include Asian-American Garden, Gazebo Garden, the massive Great Lawn and formal garden terraces. Visitors are also invited to tour the 10,500-square-foot Bellingrath Home, designed by renowned architect George B. Rogers and constructed in 1935. The home has retained its original furnishings along with a vast collection of decorative arts.
The home and gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for meetings and events. Taking advantage of the scenery, most event planners prefer renting tents to host larger groups beneath the mossy trees. The staff will assist in locating the perfect garden site for your specific event. Also, the indoor Magnolia Room is available to accommodate up to 80 guests for gatherings.
To view the Gulf Coast’s largest collection of plants, visit Mobile Botanical Gardens, home to the most inclusive collection of azaleas in the area. Featuring 100 acres of woodland and paved garden areas and trails, the property was a longleaf pine forest prior to European settlement in the 1700s. Today, 35 acres remain as Treasure Forest, a conservation area.
Your group should be sure to tour the WinterGarden, touted as a Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society, and the fascinating Butterfly & Pollinator Garden.
For informal groups and receptions, the rustic Botanical Center is a 2,100-square-foot casual venue with exposed beams, stained concrete floors, and track lighting overlooking the gardens and fountains. The lodge is currently available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Admiral Hotel, Mobile
“Mobile has been known as the Azalea City for generations and our gardens and outdoor spaces rival anywhere in the country,” says Stacy Hamilton, vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Mobile. “Being outdoors, whether it’s on or near the bay or delta… under the canopy of giant live oak trees or surrounded by ancient azalea or camellia bushes… is an authentic part of the year-round Mobile experience.”
National Public Gardens Day was celebrated on May 12, but groups can celebrate the opulent natural beauty and environmental stewardship found throughout Alabama any day of the year.
Mobile Bay Jubilee—A Bucket List Experience
If you time it just right, your group might be able to participate in a delightful recurring Gulf Coast phenomenon—a Mobile Bay jubilee, in which many species of crab, shrimp, flounder, eels, and other demersal fish leave deeper waters and swarm to a shallow coastal area of the bay.
It all occurs within a few hours and can encompass a 15-mile stretch or just a few hundred feet of beach. Jubilees tend to occur on a summer morning, typically before sunrise with a gentle wind from the east, a calm and slick bay surface, and following an overcast or cloudy day.
Mobile Bay jubilees date back to the 1860s. Most years include at least one, and sometimes several take place. Similar events have been reported in other locations around the globe, but Mobile Bay is the only place where the phenomenon occurs regularly.