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Bellingrath Gardens

There is a Greek myth about the beautiful Garden of the Hesperides. According to Greek mythology, Hercules set out to find the garden so he could get the immortality-giving golden apples and give them to Eurystheus. There is, however, one little problem: the golden apples belonged to Zeus, and were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon named Ladon. After fooling Atlas to get the apples himself, Hercules was able to succeed in his task and give the apples to Eurystheus.

The Garden of Hesperides is just a myth,of course,  but there is one garden that comes close to its beauty. Known as Bellingrath Gardens and Home, this 65-acre botanical garden and mansion is situated in Fowl River, a suburb of Mobile Alabama. And here’s the best news: you wouldn’t have to go into battle with a hundred-headed dragon to get inside.

The garden showcases a wide array of flowers every season — from chrysanthemums in autumn, to roses in the summer, to azaleas in spring, and camellia blooms in the winter. The garden has 250,000 azaleas, hydrangeas, Easter lilies, impatiens, salvia, fuchsia, and Pelargonium geraniums. It also has 2,000 roses, allamandas, hibiscus, copper plants, begonias, ornamental peppers, bougainvillea, caladiums, coleus, vinca, and marigolds. There are also 8,000 bedded, potted and cascading chrysanthemums, hibiscus, and copper plants in the area. (Wikipedia) Each plot in the gardens showcases nature in its grandest form.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home was created by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bellingrath. Initially, Mr. Bellingrath, who was then the President of Coca Cola Bottling Plant in Mobile, bought it in 1917 as a fishing camp. It was Mrs. Bellingrath who started developing the gardens, employing the help of architect George Bigelow Rogers in 1927. The public first took a glimpse of the garden in 1932, when Mr. Bellingrath placed an ad that invited anyone who wanted to see the garden to go to there, free of charge. The response to the ad was overwhelming, which prompted the couple to keep the gardens open for the whole year, starting in 1934.

Visitors who have seen the gardens can also go the Bellingrath Museum Home and take part in a Southern Bell River Cruise (Fowl River). But true to its form, Bellingrath will always be known for its spectacular nature views, especially the Mirror Lake, the Butterfly and Rose Garden, the Asian-American Gardens, and the Great Lawn.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home also has cafe (Magnolia Cafe) that serves sandwiches, salads, and soup together with specialty dishes featured all year-round. It also offers hot apple cider and hot chocolate during Magic Christmas Lights, an event where the whole estate displays over three million lights during the Christmas season. Pet lovers can also get the chance to enjoy the whole tour while their pets are safely and comfortably placed in the Pet Motel, free of Charge.

There are no words to describe the beauty of the Bellingrath Gardens and Home. It has to be seen to fully appreciate what it offers to every visitor who drops by. Mr. Bellingrath once said that “The Gardens are like a beautiful woman with a different gown for each week of the year.” That, itself, more than sums up what the estate is all about.