On Saturday, April 9th, 2016 we officially opened our new Aromi Hybrid Azalea Garden. An extension to our existing Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden, this new garden is filled with Dr Gene Aromi’s native azalea hybrids along with companion planting.

Members and donors were invited. Over 250 people attended the event – which featured beautiful weather, and a glorious display of plants.

Dr Aromi’s daughters, Jeannette and Marilyn, and his grandchildren were present in person AND in the beautiful azaleas named for them. They cut the ribbon and escorted attendees on the first walks through the Garden. Jeanette and Marilyn shared their memories of growing up with their father’s azaleas. Read Jeanette’s Speech Here

Gina Gregory, President of the City of Mobile Council, and representative of District 7, emphasised the benefits of the Mobile Botanical Gardens for the City of Mobile. We are honored to have her support in becoming a world-class garden.

Tom Johnson, Director of Magnolia Gardens & Plantation in Charleston,SC, was pivotal in spearheading the fund raising for the new Gardens, and is a great cheer-leader for us in the world of horticulture.

Terry Plauche, Landscape Architect, and Jeremy Carter of Total Quality Landscape, are to be commended on their thorough and accurate overseeing of the path-laying and plant-placing and installation of the new Garden.

Maarten van der Giessen, our azalea guru, and owner of van der Giessen Nursery in Semmes, AL was THE person with the vision and was the driving force behind the new Garden. He gave a very powerful and thought-provoking speech – something that all friends of the Gardens should read! Maarten’s Remarks at the Aromi Garden Opening (opens in new tab)

For more about Dr Aromi’s work and about his Native Azalea hybrids follow these links:

Video talk – Aromi Azaleas by Maarten van der Giessen (opens in new tab)

Aromi Garden Handout (PDF) -opens in new tab

Aromi Azalea Collection at MBG (opens in new tab)

Catering by Georgia Roussos Catering (opens in new tab)
Photography by Elizabeth Gelineau of Fleeting Moments Photography LLC (will open in new tab)
Also read Elizabeth’s blog about the Opening at www.fleetingmoments-photography.com/blog (opens in a new tab)

Just a few of the photos from the Aromi Azalea Garden Opening Day! These are photos that have been posted to our instagram account. Our thanks to Elizabeth Gelineau of Fleeting Moments Photography LLC (will open in new tab) for the sneak peek photos. – more will be posted soon!

You can click on any photo to see them in a slide show with the instagram captions. Follow us on instagram at mobilebotanicalgardens.

Just a few of the photos showing the Aromi Garden building progress. Posted from our instagram account.

You can click on any photo to see them in a slide show with the instagram captions. Follow us on instagram at mobilebotanicalgardens.

OPEN SATURDAYS ONLY, APRIL 16th through the end of JUNE 9am to 11am

The Market Place features many of the same unusual, interesting, native and hard to find plants featured at Spring Plant Sale, plus new merchandise arriving weekly. Staffed by our volunteers, (many are Master Gardeners) the Market Place provides not only plants, but expert advice for your Gulf Coast Garden.

The Marketplace is open Saturday mornings from 9am – 11 am until the end of June 2016

Located at the far end of the main parking lot in the fenced area.

Tomato Reviews by John Olive

By John Olive, Auburn University, Ornamental Horticulture Research Center, Mobile, AL

There is an assortment of cherry and salad type tomatoes available at Tomatopalooza 2016. Mexico Midget, Black Cherry, Super Sweet 100, and Juliet are available. In addition Sungold, a very popular yellow/orange variety last year will be for sale. For shear yield, Mexico Midget and Super Sweet 100 can’t be beat and both have been dependable producers throughout the summer here on the gulf coast. Super Sweet 100 is, as the name implies, super sweet and even children who normally turn their noses up at tomatoes often enjoy gobbling these up.

To help you decide which ones to try, here are some descriptions and comments on each:

Super Sweet 100: Produces well over an extended season through the summer and into the fall in some plantings. As the name implies, very sweet and I know children who refuse to eat tomatoes, that gobble these up.

Tomato Super Tasty web 500_opt

Mexico Midget: Like Super Sweet 100, Mexico Midget is a heavy yielding variety that often yields fruit all summer with slightly smaller fruit than Super Sweet 100 (in our plantings). Very good tomato flavor.

Tomato Mexico Midget

Black Cherry: People tend to love this one or hate it. Most people love it. Larger than Super Sweet 100, it is very juicy and is delicious. Lasted well into the summer but not as heavy yields as Mexico Midget or Super Sweet 100 but worth growing for the unique look and flavor. (Some people like vanilla and some chocolate!)

Tomato Black Cherry 500_opt

Sungold: This variety sold out last year and has been very popular with Gulf Coast gardeners. It is yellow to tangerine orange and very sweet. We have never grown this one but from the reports I have gotten from many folks at MBG, this is their favorite and I am looking forward to trying it.

Sungold Tomato

Sungold Tomato

Juliet: This is a larger salad type tomato that looks like a sauce plum tomato. It is a very dependable heavy yield tomato for us in Mobile and is a versatile fruit. Can be eaten fresh, used in cooking, canning, and I even dried.

Juliet Tomato

Juliet Tomato

Planning a wedding or special event and considering your venue options? The Gardens have a variety of options for Ceremony settings. The Botanical Center, opening onto the Plaza at the front and the Herb Garden at the rear is a blank canvas for your reception and decorating plans.

Join our Exclusive Venue Managers, Mindy and Nick Dees of Dees Design House, LLC on Saturday, February13th from 1.30pm to 3.30pm for ideas and a view of what we have to offer for your Special Day.

Please contact Mindy Dees at mindy@mindydees.com if you would like to attend. Free to all.

See our Rental Page for facilities and pricing here. Link opens in new tab

Thanks to Jennie Tewell Photography for the photo.

Botanical Art Class II:
Learning How to Work with Colored Pencil – with Derek Norman
How to surprise yourself and amaze your friends!
A Six-Week Course: Fridays 10am – 1pm from March 25th to April 29th
Members: $125
Nonmembers: $150

For those who simply wish to take their drawing skills to a higher level and those who continue to explore the world of botanical drawing and painting – this class is specifically designed for you!

Students will progress through sound accurate observation and the fundamentals of proportional drawing technique to an understanding of working with color and colored pencil. A step-by-step process will allow the
student to more fully understand the application of color and color blending be it colored pencil or watercolor.

As the class progresses each student will engage in drawing plant specimens as they learn to apply color to hot press paper and understand the importance of structure, surface texture and color perspective

About our Instructor –
Derek Norman and his wife, Ursel, are members of MBG and they are new to our Gulf Coast community, having moved here from Chicago. Derek was born, bred and educated in England before he moved to the States. His graphic works, paintings, drawings and botanical works have been exhibited in Europe and America. He has won Gold and Silver Gilt Medals at the Royal Horticultural Society in London and he is represented in many private and permanent collections including the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, the Library of Congress, the British Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Florilegium Society.

Friday Afternoons (2pm -4pm) in the Gardens weekly
Enjoy an informal afternoon of drawing,taking inspiration from the Gardens’ setting.
An open studio with advice and encouragement offered by Derek Norman.
Please bring your own drawing supplies. Come when you can.

FREE to Members
Non-members will pay admission of $5 to the Gardens

Derek Norman was born, bred and educated (mostly by experience) in England (BFA) and America as an exchange student (great experience).

Since arriving on these shores he has learnt to speak American and drive on the wrong side of the road.
With a fine art background and following a career in advertising, marketing and communications Derek Norman found an avocation in drawing and painting the native flora of the Midwest. Finally, avocation became vocation.

A longtime designer, creative director, television producer, educator, teacher, lecturer and faculty adviser at Columbia College, Chicago and at the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, Illinois. Also, founder and former Principal of the Midwest Center for Botanical Documentation.

Co-author (with Ursel Norman), and designer/illustrator of six cookbooks (William Morrow, New York & Harper/ Collins, London). And various newspaper columns – Look & Cook (Pioneer Press, Chicago),
Greenfingers (Chicago Tribune), Woodland Wildflowers, Plants at a Glance and Prairie Plants (Pioneer Press, Chicago).

A former elected member of the London Creative Circle and the Royal Society of Artists and Designers, London. He is the recipient of many design and professional awards. His graphic works, paintings, drawings and botanical drawings have been exhibited in Europe and America. He has won Gold and Silver Gilt Medals at the Royal Horticultural Society in London and he is represented in many private and permanent collections including the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, the Library of Congress, the British Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Florilegium Society.

Derek Norman together with his wife Ursel, nowadays, are happy to reside in Olde Towne Daphne, Alabama.

Spring Plant Sale: March 18th – 20th – free to all
Friday and Saturday hours – 9am to 4pm
Sunday hours – 11am to 4pm

Hundreds of varieties, thousands of plants! From annuals to herbs to perennials to shrubs to trees – fruit, natives, tropicals – if we could find it, we’ll have it!

The Plant Sale list iist PDF format here – arranged in plant categories (Updated Mar 10) . It will open in a new tab.

The downloadable sortable list is in Excel format (.xls) HERE (Will download to your computer) . This is not a complete list – we often don’t know what we’ve got until it arrives, but it’s a great start to your shopping planning!

Spring Plant Sale Preview Party: Thursday, March 17th from 4pm to 7pm

First pick of the plants, with refreshments!
Tickets: $25 in advance or at the gate

Preview Party Tickets – pay in advance online HERE – Our Online Shop will open in a new tab.

The tickets are available from our online shop at www.rmbgrebloomshop.com look under NON-PLANTS in the menu to find events!

Please note we will NOT be mailing tickets purchased online. We will have your name at the gate. If you are purchasing tickets for other people, please make sure they know the name of the purchaser – or leave us the names in the Special Instructions box just before the Checkout in the online shop. Your confirmation email will be your receipt, but it is not required to be shown at the gate.

WALKING OF THE GREEN, Thursday, March 17th from 8.30am
Walk-through of the sale site with Luan Ackridge, Russell Cker and Bill Nicholas from 8.30. They will share their experiences with some of the plants in the sale. an informal walk and talk. Make notes, ask questions and learn! NO BUYING.

Plantasia Recycling! Our Thanks to Earth Resources Inc whowill be providing recycling services for our Plant Sale this weekend! This is a great curbside recycling service for the Mobile area. Check out their website at www.earthresourcesrecycling.com (will open in new tab)

Back by popular demand, Tomatopalooza 2016 is Saturday, MARCH 5TH from 9am to 12 noon.

22 Varieties of Tomato Plants will be available to buy online (or at the office) for collection on Feb 27th. There is a limited number of some varieties, so order early to get first pick!

Bill Finch has made his selection of great tomato plants for our Gulf Coast Region, and the seeds are sown! From the big meaty beefsteaks to the teeny tiny cherry tomatoes, there’s something for all tastes and yard space.

SHOP ONLINE NOW! Tomato Collection Online (will open in new tab)

See some tomato growing hints and facts on our Shop Blog: Tomatoes in the Mobile & Gulf Coast Region (opens in new tab)

Also in our Shop Blog is an archived column from Plain Gardening by Bill Finch.Tomato Bacterial Wilt from July 2012 (will open in new tab)

Come out to the Gardens on Saturday, February 13th from 9am to 2pm for a Camellia Day!

The program includes:

  • All about Camellias – Brenda Litchfield
  • Saving Old Camellias – Forrest Latta
  • Basic Grafting Methods – Blanding Drinkard & Rick Crow
  • Our Camellia Heritage – Bill Barrick of Bellingrath Gardens
  • After a boxed lunch there will be a choice of breakout sessions:

  • Guided Tour of the K. Sawada WinterGarden with Bobby Green of Green Nurseries, Fairhope
  • Hands-on Grafting Clinic with Blanding Drinkard & Rick Crow
  • Hands-on Waxing Clinic with Brenda Litchfield & Forest Latta
  • Copies of The Camellia Garden Field Guide by authors Forrest Latta and Brenda Litchfield are available for sale – and they will be on hand to sign the books that day.
    You can order a copy from our Online Shop at www.mbgrebloomshop (opens in a new tab) and pick it up on the 13th.

    The Market Place will be open from 9am to 3pm with a good selection of Camellias and other plants for sale


    Members: $15
    Non-members $25 (you can join online now and take advantage of the members price)
    This includes a boxed lunch by Georgia Roussos catering – choice of Chicken Caesar Pita, Ham & Cheese Sub or Roasted Veggie Wrap (please select when registering) with a fruit salad side, and a brownie.