Bellingrath Gardens Continues Success - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Bellingrath Gardens Continues Success

Those planning the "Gulf Coast Botanical Gardens of Beauvoir " envision an attractive mix of history and horticulture. And that's exactly the combination that lures thousands of tourists to Theodore, Alabama each year.

Theodore is the home of "Bellingrath Gardens." The executive director of Bellingrath believes the two attractions would complement one another. He says tourists interested in gardening would likely visit both sites.

They've been enjoying Bellingrath's beauty for the past 70 years.

"This is the garden of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. And so this is a historic garden and a classic Southern garden," explained executive director Bill Barrick.

Bellingrath's beauty attracts some 200,000 visitors a year. The carefully manicured flowers and grounds offer a peaceful getaway.

Bellingrath's longevity and popularity reflect the fact that gardening is the number one leisure activity in America.

"And if you look at the stats for public gardens, more than five hundred million people visit public gardens every year. So it's pretty significant," Barrick said.

Judy and Jack Mock are part of a bus trip from New Jersey. The Mock's consider Bellingrath more an experience than a destination.

"It's actually beautiful. Because it's not just the flowers. It's the water, it's the scenery, it's the trees that you have. The grass. The who atmosphere. It just makes you very comfortable," Jack Mock said.

The director of Bellingrath has one main piece of advice for those planning the gardens at Beauvoir: raise lots of money. It not only takes millions to plant a garden like Bellingrath, it takes millions more to keep it beautiful.

"Our garden operates somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half to three million dollars a year on an annual basis for the cost to operate the garden," Barrick said.

Ron and Lois Bowman consider it money well spent.

"All the gorgeous flowers. The color. The water. It's beautiful, it really is," Lois Bowman said.

By Steve Phillips

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