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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bellingrath Gardens. Theodore, Alabama

Mom-in-law and a friend are visiting us here in Pensacola for a week.  We had decided that this would be our occasion to visit one of our favorite flower spots in the world, Bellingrath Gardens on the western shore of Mobile Bay near the town of Theodore, Alabama.

The 65 acre botanical garden and home was the weekend place of Walter and Bessie (Morse) Bellingrath.  The story goes that Walter started out with a horse, a wagon, and three cases of Coca Cola but was one helluva salesman.  Soon he owned the Mobile Coca Cola bottling franchise and in the early 1900s that was probably better than discovering a gold mine in his back yard.  As for Bessie, well, I guess she really liked flowers and antiques.

Don't miss this side trip just eleven miles south of exit 15 on Interstate 10.

When Walter Bellingrath first started to develop his fish camp on the river, it looked something like this:

I took a picture of the back of the Bellingrath mansion today.

But no picture I take in February is going to compare to the beauty of mid-March (Azalea time) or later spring as shown in this picture that I grabbed from Wikipedia Commons.

The gardens are limited at this time of year but are still worth the visit.  Here are a couple of pictures from the inside of the hot house.
Bellingrath-01 Bellingrath-02

And there are more than just a few spots of color to be seen on the grounds.
Bellingrath-04 Bellingrath-13 Bellingrath-03

If you are at all interested in porcelain and the work of Edward Boehm, there is quite a collection of that in a gallery next to the mansion.  Like Bellingrath, Boehm was another self-educated entrepreneur with a flair for marketing.
Bellingrath-12 Bellingrath-11 Bellingrath-08

One of the connections between Boehm and Bellingrath is found in this Coca Cola advertisement.

Boehm's mother, Elsie, died when he was seven years old but she had been photographed as the model in that ad.  This was the only picture that Boehm had of his mother.

I was surprised to see these examples of Boehm's Egyptian porcelain on display.

Even though the flowers were a bit disappointing to those of us who have visited Bellingrath in the past, all agreed that it was well worth the trip - and it was a perfect day to be in a garden here versus inside in the Twin Cities.

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