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Bellingrath Gardens and Home

In a nutshell

Explore 65 landscaped acres & the Ecological Bayou Boadwalk, Tour Bellingrath Museum Home, Relax aboard Southern Belle river cruise. Magic Christmas Light Display. Gift Shop. Cafe.

In detail: The Story of Bellingrath Gardens and Home

In 1903, Walter Duncan Bellingrath began Mobile’s first Coca-Cola bottling operation. His franchise spanned a 100-mile radius, which he covered single-handedly at first. It was not uncommon to see Mr. Bellingrath walking the train tracks between small towns because he lacked the train fare. His perseverance and warm personality won him many customers and his hard work made him a tremendous success.

By the time the United States became initiated in World War I, Mr. Bellingrath’s Coca-Cola Bottling Company was a major business operation in Mobile. This success, compounded by sugar shortages during the war, took its toll on Mr. Bellingrath's health. In 1917, he was advised by his physician to buy a fishing camp overlooking Fowl River he had been admiring to balance his hectic work schedule with needed rest and relaxation.

By this time, the Bellingrath's home in Mobile on Ann Street was known for its beautiful garden, which the couple graciously allowed drivers to enjoy during the spring. The collection of azaleas was the city's largest and Mrs. Bellingrath began bringing cuttings down to her husband’s fishing camp, which had been named Belle Camp. The conditions were ideal and each spring the collection became more spectacular.

After an extensive European tour of gardens, the couple decided to get professional assistance in the design of their property in 1927. They hired George B. Rogers, Mobile's most prominent architect. Rogers worked continuously on developing the property, as well as the couple's home, until his death in 1945. His plan for the Gardens is still being enjoyed today.

In the spring of 1932, the Bellingraths opened their property along the Fowl River up to a Depression-weary public for a day of azalea gazing. The response was phenomenal, as the roads between Mobile and the Gardens became one long traffic jam. The astounded couple decided to open the Gardens permanently, while charging a fee to assist in their care and upkeep.

The Gardens began to expand as azaleas and camellias were shipped in from across the South. In Mobile, Mrs. Bellingrath was known for her generosity in paying tremendous sums for plants from individual's gardens. The higher demand for the plant normally meant a higher price Mrs. Bellingrath was willing to pay.

The Bellingraths had no children, but they enjoyed the company of their young nieces and nephews. As both were from large families, the need for extra guest rooms moved the couple to have George Rogers design a guest house in 1939. The building also contained a large garage, an intimate Chapel and a laundry. Since 1967, the garage space has served visitors as the Delchamps Gallery of Edward Marshall Boehm Porcelain. The collection is the largest of its type open to the public and contains a wide variety of wildlife art created by the veterinarian turned sculptor.

After Mrs. Bellingrath died in 1943, Mr. Bellingrath continued the couple's plans for their beloved Gardens until his own death in 1955. Mr. Bellingrath had not only created a tribute to the region's natural beauty, but had also contributed much to his community.

Mr. Bellingrath's obituary listed numerous accomplishments, in addition to creating Bellingrath Gardens. He had been a staunch member of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, even writing at least two checks to cover annual deficits. He served as the director of the Mobile Community Chest, as well as its President. A Deacon and benefactor at his church, Mr. Bellingrath was also an ardent supporter of Mobile's Rotary Club and the Mobile Infirmary.

In the business community, he was well respected as the president of the Lerio Corporation, Mobile Warehousing, Inc. and was one of the four founders of the Waterman Steamship Corporation. He served as an officer for several Coca-Cola bottling companies in Mobile, in addition to other cities. He was a director of the First National Bank of Mobile and the Mobile Press Register, Inc.

The Bellingrath-Morse Foundation

At the age of 80, Mr. Bellingrath created the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation to perpetuate the existence of his beloved Home and Gardens for future generations to enjoy. The Foundation is also set up to further the efforts of three church-related colleges: Rhodes College in Memphis, TN; Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL; and Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL. Mr. Bellingrath's church, Central Presbyterian as well as that of his wife’s family, St. Francis Street Methodist, is also beneficiaries of the Foundation. These institutions receive approximately 85% of the Foundation's earnings. There is no doubt of Mr. Bellingrath's sincere interest in education. Having a limited formal education himself, Mr. Bellingrath made certain that many others could further themselves through a college education.

Annual Blooming Schedule

Winter - January 1 through February 28

See Bellingrath's famed Winter Wonderland, including a wide variety of camellias. Stroll through 65 acres and enjoy the blooms of tulips, pansies, snapdragons, daffodils, flowering cabbage and kale, poppies, primrose and paper white narcissus. Join us as for Celebrate Camellias weekend and Rose Pruning Party in February, as well as our Winter Wednesdays programs.

Spring - March 1 through April 30

The wondrous blooms of spring can be found at Bellingrath Gardens and Home! See the nationally-remarked azalea season, Easter lilies, hydrangeas, marigolds, salvia, fuschia, impatiens, delphiniums, geraniums and more! Celebrate a variety of special events, including the Azalea Trail Maid Day, Festival of Flowers, Easter Egg Hunt, the annual Camellia Classic Car Show, the annual Mobile Rose Society Rose Show and other seasonal events!

Azaleas! - March 15-April 5

Enjoy the blooms of over 250,000 azaleas in an explosion of color that encompasses the 65 acre estate. Varieties include 'Formosa,' 'Daphne Salmon,' 'Southern Charm,' 'Pride of Mobile,' 'G.G. Gerbing,' 'George L. Tabor,' 'Christmas Cheer,' and many more!

Summer - May 1 through September 30

Enjoy the warm days of summer reflected in the blooms of roses, allamandes, hibiscus, caladiums, copper plants, coleus, vinca, petunias, marigolds, begonias, ornamental peppers, bougainvillea and much more. Also, make sure to visit the 2004 Top Public Rose Garden in the United States, as voted by All-America Rose Selections. Participate in our summer Wonderful Wednesdays programs and make sure to show Mom how much she's appreciated at the annual Mother's Day Evening Garden Concert.

Fall - October 1 through November 27

See Bellingrath as it colors transition from the tropicals of summer to the rustic hues of autumn. See salvia, coleus, copper plants, hibiscus, early garden-style chrysanthemums and more! Also, the fall features the nation's largest outdoor display of cascading chrysanthemums at Bellingrath. Mum's the Word at Bellingrath for our Fall Festival! Bring the children out for a variety of family-fun activities including the Balloon Glow at the Gardens and the Mum Festival Family Day.

Cascading Mum Display - November 1 through November 22 As the nation's largest outdoor display of cascading chrysanthemums, Bellingrath's Cascading Mum Display is a site to see! Bedded, potted and cascading mums encompass the Gardens in the fall colors of red, orange, bronze, yellow, white, pink and more.

Holiday - December 1 through December 31

Enjoy the holiday season ablaze with poinsettias in the shades of red, pink, white, yellow, green and marbled effects. See Christmas mums, snapdragons, pansies, flowering cabbage and kale, violas, paper whites and more. Also, a trip to Bellingrath during the holiday season is not complete with Magic Christmas in Lights.

Magic Christmas in Lights

Event opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and closes New Years Eve. It is closed only on December 25th. Normal operating hours of 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM are extended until 9:00 PM throughout Magic Christmas in Lights.

The holiday tradition continues as Bellingrath Gardens and Home celebrates Magic Christmas in Lights. Stroll through over 3 million sparkling lights and over 835 displays throughout the 65 acre Garden estate. The Bellingrath Home is decorated in its holiday finery and poinsettias encompass the Gardens. Nightly choral performances are held on the South Terrace of the Bellingrath Home.
Magic Christmas in Lights opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs through New Year's Eve. Bellingrath Gardens and Home is closed on Christmas Day. A fun family event for everyone, during Magic Christmas in Lights guests can also have their photographs taken with Santa and supper in the Magnolia Café on a nightly basis. The perfect holiday gift can be found for that someone special in the Bellingrath's magnificently stocked Gift Shop.
Experience the entire spirit of the holiday season with hot chocolate or hot apple cider in hand as you walk through the glow of millions of twinkling lights, sure to amaze those of all ages.

Holiday Light display featuring 3.5 million lights, 605 set pieces in 12 scenes throughout Bellingrath Gardens and Home’s 65 acre estate garden.
Major scenes include:

  • Butterflies in Flight
  • Over the Rainbow
  • Peace on Earth
  • Emerald Forest
  • Toyland
  • Candyland
  • Critter Cove
  • Flower Walk
  • Under Water Garden (new)
  • Nativity
  • Lotus Land
  • The Night Before Christmas

Operating Hours

Magic Christmas in Lights is open daily through New Year's Eve from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. and closed December 25th.
Tours of the Bellingrath Home are every hour and half hour until 8 p.m.

Address & Hours

Bellingrath Gardens and Home
12401 Bellingrath Road
Theodore, AL 36582


Garden Only Package: Adults: $10.00, Children: $5.50 (ages 5 – 12), Children 4 and under are free.
Several other Combi Packages are available, like Gardens, Home and Cruise Package (Adults: $26.00, Children: $17.00 (ages 5 – 12)), Gardens and Home Package (Adults: $18.00, Children: $11.00 (ages 5 – 12)), Gardens and Cruise Package (Adults: $18.00, Children: $11.00 (ages 5 – 12)).
Note: Prices may change, please verify on the Bellingrath website.

Hours of Operation

Daily 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Special Extended Hours

Day after Thanksgiving thru New Years Eve. Closed December 25th.

Museum Home Tours

Daily beginning each day at 9:00 AM. Tours are given every thirty minutes on the hour and half hour. Last tour is at 4:00 PM.

Southern Belle River Cruise

Daily from mid February until November - Cruise Times Vary

Bellingrath Gardens and Home Website



Document Information
Source: photo credit: Courtesy of Mobile Convention & Visitors Corporation/City of Mobile; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20081027
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