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Alabama Adventures: Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest

After hearing about Pinus palustris from several southern botanist friends, I had to see the trees for myself! I had the great pleasure of ...

30 August 2015

Alabama Adventures: Mobile Botanical Gardens

On the way to Dauphin Island, Mobile Botanical Gardens was a much needed rest stop. I've been following their Instagram account for some time, and was excited to see their gorgeous gardens in person.

Located about twenty minutes from downtown Mobile, Alabama, this slice of paradise has an impressive plant collection, with their Rhododendron and Winter Gardens being especially of note. The Longleaf Treasure Forest, open daily from dawn to dusk, has a few trails worth strolling through. There are continuous improvements being made, and many great plans for future development.

Admission is $5, and free for 12 & under as well as members. This public garden participates in the American Horticulture Society reciprocal garden admission program. Hours vary; check their website for more info.

Read more details of my visit below!

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I never thought that Alabama would have anything of interest to me, but boy I was wrong. I wanted to see saltwater, and my best bet before returning home was Mobile County, Alabama. I was encouraged by Liz, MBG social media extraordinaire, to drop by the gardens. How could I resist?

After a long 5-hour drive, Steve and I finally turned into the entrance. I was enthralled at the sight of Pinus palustris; I had yearned to see longleaf pine in person. After the car was parked I scrambled up the path to the office, and was welcomed with a smile by executive director Robin. After receiving a map and suggestions on seasonal interests, we set out on our adventure. 

My legs were sore from the trip and I needed to sit for a spell. Piff Plaza, with tall bamboo and lush plants, was a perfect spot to stretch my legs. Steve and I wandered towards lovely latticework in the Herb Garden. The raised brick beds, water fountain, and corner arbor were pleasant sights to see.

Piff Plaza

Herb Garden

We made our way through the Japanese Maple Garden, filled with gorgeous cultivars such as 'Sango Kaku'. The sunlight filtered through the canopy, providing much needed shade in the unforgiving heat of the deep south.

Acer palmatum canopy

Japanese Maple Garden


 The Fragrance & Texture Garden (damaged by fireworks the day after this visit) was of special interest, with a koi pond and waterfall. Steve and I stood on the red footbridge and observed the fish for some time before moving on to the Rhododendron Garden. We just missed the end of azalea season, but there were a few blooms left to admire, as well as the columns in the centre plaza.

Fragrance & Texture Garden

Cast iron columns

Rhododendron Garden

We continued on to the ReBloom Garden, which was full of colour.  The plants in that area show a variety of plants that can be used in home gardens and landscapes in the Gulf Coast area. I was intrigued by many of these plants, as they wouldn't be able to survive outside in the harsh winters up north -- though I did see one familiar plant: Yucca filamentosa is naturalised in Illinois!




At that point my stomach was grumbling, so we took a lunch break. I made sure to guzzle plenty of ice water and bring some back to the gardens (or I would have hovered forever at the water fountain). Steve wanted to see his favourite plants, so the Fern Glade was our next destination. We crossed the Camellia Bridge, made our way through the Kosaku Sawada Winter Garden, and strolled into the glade.  Steve was delighted and made sure to snap plenty of photos.




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I will end my post with that! I haven't covered the Longleaf Forest yet because I have so much to tell on just that area alone! I also have a few more places to blog about from my Alabama adventures, so stay tuned.

I had the pleasure of meeting Liz. She was kind enough to give me a tour of the greenhouses and tell me more about MBG. Their plants are fantastic! You can purchase them online -- but they are available for pick up only!

After the greenhouse tours, my husband and I had to check into our hotel. MBG was closed for the weekend, so that was unfortunately the only visit we were able to make. I found the staff at Mobile Botanic Gardens to be warm & welcoming! If you plan on visiting the Gulf Coast or are ever passing through, I highly recommend that you see this place. If you live nearby, it is a charming spot to bring out-of-town guests, and a nice area to take a walk!

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