Visit Bellingrath Home and Gardens

Making Friends in Gardens

I have come to love gardening. All the plants, trees and flowers that circle my home – they are my friends. And with any good friendship; hard work, care and love are required to make it grow and last. I now have a great appreciation for gardens around the world and for their owners and caretakers alike.

One such garden caught my eye on a visit to southern Alabama. Southwest of Mobile on the banks of the Fowl River is a 65 acre horticultural treasure called Bellingrath Gardens and Home – named after its owners Walter Duncan and Bessie Morse Bellingrath.

Started as a Fishing Camp

What was once a fishing camp purchased in 1917 by Mr. Bellingrath as a way to relax soon grew into something quite different. Mrs. Bellingrath hired an architect by the name of George B. Rogers in 1927 and by 1932 the gardens were opened for public viewing. The quiet fishing camp that was known as “Bellcamp” for 15 years had been transformed into a beautiful garden that blooms year-round.

By 1935 Mr. Rogers had added a home to the property which became the Bellingrath’s private mansion. The Bellingrath’s loved to entertain and on many occasions Mr. Bellingrath would invite visitors from his gardens into his home for lunch. Mrs. Bellingrath learned to always keep the table set for 16, never knowing how many guests her husband might bring in. Since Mr. Bellingrath’s death in 1955 the house is open to public viewing as well.

Home, Gardens and Riverboat Cruise

It felt like I took a short step back in time. Today the Bellingrath home is much like it was in 1955 and houses a fine collection of antique furnishings, as well as silver, porcelain and cut glass and crystal from around America and Europe. The impressive collection was added after Mrs. Bellingrath died in 1943 – Walter never remarried.

The gardens and home are supported by a foundation Mr. Bellingrath set up to preserve their beauty. The foundation also funds three colleges in the South. As the seasons change so does the garden. Visit their website to see what is in bloom:

Besides the wonderful garden and marvelous home, they offer riverboat cruises on the Southern Belle from February through November. Tickets for the gardens, the home and the cruise may all be purchased separately – and each take about an hour – I recommend you do all three and make a nice afternoon of it.

I really enjoyed strolling through the gardens, gazing upon the fish-filled pools and watching one of the many resident cats dart though the flowers on some sort of mission. And for a moment my thoughts returned to my yard in Michigan, wondering if my cat was on a similar mission among my friends in the garden.

If you go:

Bellingrath Garderns & Home
12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road
Theodore, Alabama 36582


Michael Dwyer is a freelance writer and travel columnist. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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