Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bellingrath Gardens Christmas Lights

I spent the holidays visiting my family in Alabama, and I've got several posts' worth of photographs. Maybe if I make it my New Year's resolution to post them all, I'll do it.

Now that you've stopped laughing, I hope you can enjoy these pictures from Bellingrath Gardens Christmas in Lights.
Located outside Mobile on Fowl River, the gardens were created by extremely rich Coca-Cola franchisee Walter Bellingrath and his wife, Bessie Mae Morse Bellingrath. They started in 1927, adding paths, fountains, waterfalls, camellias, and azaleas.
In 1932 a national garden club meeting took place in Mobile. One afternoon during the meeting, the Bellingraths decided to invite Mobilians over for a visit. Five thousand people showed up!

I think the Bellingraths were surprised that many people showed up, but being gardeners, they really should have known that no self-respecting gardener would pass up the chance to gawk at another gardener's garden. Two years later they opened the gardens to the public year round.

I vaguely remember visiting the gardens as a child when the azaleas were in bloom, sometime in mid-March through early April. More than 250,000 azaleas cover the 65-acre estate. At the time, I remember being BORED after the first 100 or so azaleas.
Now I would love to visit the gardens in the spring, and in the daylight. Perhaps I've grown a bit more sophisticated in my tastes, or maybe I've just become one of "those people."
The Christmas lights also cover much of the 65 acres. Each area boasts a different theme, and I was excited to see what was around the corner. My niece, who has been there many times, could tell which displays were different than previous years. I was just along for the walk.

This gator in the pond moved back and forth, trying to scare us.
The massive lights show just whetted my appetite to see the garden in bloom. A few plants in the greenhouse were blooming like this hibiscus
and this poinsettia tree. I also knew I was near some blooming plants when I smelled the narcissus before I saw them.
I don't have pictures of several areas of the lights because it rained periodically throughout our stroll. It being Mobile most people weren't fazed by the downpours. We all knew that they would stop as quickly as they started. I do wish I'd had a jacket but my nephew was thrilled. He loves the rain!
Luckily for me, the showers were mere drizzles by the time we hit the seascape.

Maybe I loved these sea creatures because I knew I would be eating some particularly delicious ones after the lights tour.

Of course, Bellingrath Gardens had to have flowers on display. The last acre or two was filled with flower lights:
and of course, camellias.
I've got pictures of real camellias in bloom that I hope to post soon. It's only the first day of 2009, and already I'm sticking my resolutions! This must be a personal record!

Hope the new year brings us all new blooms, or maybe just pictures of old blooms!


  1. Well not my cup of te... but a great fun!

  2. I always love seeing large garden estates like this. I have yet to visit one though. Perhaps I should make it a resolution in 2009?

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Light shows are often delightfully over the top! I do like the big alligator. I think I've been to this garden but can't remember exactly when. Azaleas in the deeper south are something else when they are in bloom...Happy New Year vertie,


  4. Great pictures Vert. We could do that to if we had lots and lots of money. Just think what your garden would look like.

  5. I find it hilarious that you make a comment about "those people" and then follow it with a picture of pink flamingo lights. I did something similar in my post about the 37th Street lights that, now that I think about it, I never actually got around to posting. Oops?

    And I mark myself as such a Yankee hermit by admitting that I've never seen a camellia or gardenia in a garden in bloom. There really seems to be a staggering variety of bloom forms and colors. I can totally see why people would get obsessed.